PARK CITY — Park City’s offense and special teams put on a show in the first half on Thursday night, and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
Park City rolled past Tooele in its home finale, 42-21, thanks to multiple big plays in the first half, and combined with Stansbury’s surprising loss at Bonneville the Miners earned themselves a share of the Region 11 championship.
It’s the first region title for Park City since the program won three straight titles from 2008 to 2010.
With a young team coming into the year nobody outside of Park City believed this team was capable of such an accomplishment, but coach Josh Montzingo said he’s had young players step up all season.
“They’ve grown. At this point there’s no sophomores, juniors, seniors, it’s just a team and they’ve all played a lot of games and they fight. They really work hard and they love each other and it’s fun to watch play,” said Montzingo, whose team improved to 6-3 with the win.
Park City and Tooele both had plenty to play for heading into Thursday’s game, with a first-round home playoff game a realistic goal for both.
Tooele got off to a dream start on a chilly Park City night. It marched 80 yards in 12 plays on the game’s opening drive, with Nukuluve Helu capping it on a 4-yard TD plunge for an early 7-0 lead at the 6:56 mark.
It was a sign of things to come as Tooele committed defenders to slow Park City’s speedy ball carriers.
Following a Tooele punt, Park City took a 14-7 lead with 9:42 remaining in the second quarter on a 2-yard TD run from Brady Baumann. The big play was a 29-yard completion to McCurdy on third and two.
The Skidmore-to-McCurdy connection struck again at the 6:47 mark, this time on a 70-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 21-7.
“They were willing to load the box up a little bit and if you’re going to give us a chance with Mark we’re going to take a chance on it, and he usually makes us right when we do,” said Montzingo.
McCurdy’s big night wasn’t over either. After a promising Tooele drive stalled near midfield, McCurdy returned the next punt 85 yards as he raced up the sideline untouched to stretch the lead to 28-7.
“That’s a big one. Anytime you get that, on top of the offense driving, what are we going to do next,” said Montzingo about breaking Tooele’s spirits on the punt return. “I’ve been on the other side of that and that’s a hard feeling, and it’s tough to recover.”
Park City capped the spectacular first half with a two-play drive that featured a McCurdy 34-yard reception and a Paul Baynes 40-yard touchdown catch for the 35-7 halftime lead.
Skidmore finished the first half five for five for 194 yards and three touchdowns as the Miners scored an incredible 35 points despite running only 17 offensive plays.
Tooele’s defense finally got a stop on Park City’s opening drive of the third quarter, with the offense capitalizing on the field position as Austin Meono caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Kulani Iongi trimming the deficit to 35-14.
Park City went back to work offensively though with Dylan Bauer scoring on a 6-yard run to put the game out of reach.