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Note: Park City finished with a 3-8 overall record and was 3-2 in Region 10 in 2011. It lost, 34-14, to Desert Hills in the 3A first round of the 3A playoffs.
PARK CITY — It was a jack-in-the-box season for the Park City football team last year. No one — the media, coaches, players, parents, boosters, cheerleaders, dogs or cats — expected a losing season.
But that's exactly what happened. The Miners stumbled out — strike that — fell out of the gates with an 0-5 start in preseason play en route to the school's first losing season since 2005.
“I think it was a surprise to everybody,” said Park City coach Kai Smalley. “It took us a lot longer to mesh together to form that team unity than it should have. This year, I feel like we’re on top of that. They have that bad taste in their mouth from last year and they don’t want it back.”
Park City, typically revered as an upper-echelon contender in the 3A ranks, started to calibrate towards the end of the 2011 campaign. In Region 10 play — aside from a 44-9 loss to powerhouse Juan Diego — the Miners outscored their region foes 172-77 (though they did also give up 14 fourth-quarter points in a loss to Judge.)
“I just hopin’ that our kids come out and pick up where we left off last year. We had a slower start and finally got the ball rollin’ towards the end of the season,” Smalley said. “We played a great team in the playoffs with Desert Hills but I think we still played some pretty good football down there. Our kids continue to feed off that.”
With five returning starters back on both sides of the ball, Park City believes that the winning ways will shine brightly once again.
“We had a lot of young players by the end of last season that were gettin’ a lot of experience,” Smalley said. “Hopefully we have more of those veteran players coming back and being able to lead the younger kids (is) kind of what we expect on the field.”
Right now, with a week until their opening-week matchup against Spanish Fork, the Miners are working out the necessary kinks.
“We’re getting to that fourth day of doubles and our kids are startin’ to brain cramp as much as they’re leg cramping. I’d rather have those mistakes happen on the practice field than in a game,” Smalley said in reference to a confusion-filled practice. “It’s good to see our coaches are on top of them. That’s one thing that I’ve been happy with this year. We have coaches that are intense about it and are working hard to make sure our players get better.”
Park City Miners at a glance
Coach: Kai Smalley has a 9-12 record after two years at the helm of the Park City program. He’s a graduate of Oregon University.
(5 returning starters; Spread offense)
Commonly when fans hear the word "spread" associated with football — it can only mean a couple things: finger food spread across the table or a specific type of offense. Dealing with the later, a stigma is attached to the offense — that it's an air-it-out way of life, i.e. the Mike Leach, Rich Rodrigues and Mike Gundy-like play-sheets.
Smalley takes a page out of his alma mater’s philosophy at Oregon.
“To be able to hopefully establish our run game and be able to balance that out with our passing game,” Smalley explained when asked what his intentions are on offense. “I don’t like the concept of being an air-raid offense. I don’t want to pass it every time. I want to have a run game and establish that first.”
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