2013 high school football preview: Park City Miners turn to the past in hopes of creating a brighter future

Published: Friday, Aug. 9 2013 1:15 a.m. MDT

Deseret News: Park City 2013 football preview

The Miners tried to emulate an Oregon-like offense over the past three years, and simply based on personnel it was doomed from the start. When Park City has been successful in the past the offense hasn’t been entirely complicated.

“We’re going away from that fast speed spread — three-and-out and taking 15 seconds to do that just really doesn’t work well,” Shepherd said.

The Miners return to the hybrid-fly Shepherd ran previously. It features multiple formations and provides an option to either run or pass.

“We’re maybe not that big, but we have some pretty good athletes,” Shepherd said. “It has worked in the past and the kids can look at our game film and see. They’ve bought in.”

Quarterback Ian Moritz once again will be under center after starting as a sophomore. “He’s got a pretty good arm. I wouldn’t say he’s the best passer around, but he’s got a good arm,” Shepherd said. “He’s a really good runner — he’s strong — and he’s good leader, maybe not the raw-raw kid, but everyone believes in him and will follow.”

Shepherd pegged Alec Wing as a player that needed to be involved extensively after watching film of last year’s team. “We’ve moved him to a hybrid position, which is sometimes receiver and sometimes running back. We’re going to try and get him the ball in different scenarios and let him be an athlete.”

The offensive line, with the addition of beefed-up ex-soccer players, has steadily progressed throughout the offseason. However, Shepherd noted that the offense doesn’t rely too much on power blocks because of the frequency of sweeps, counters and traps.

Defense

(3 returning starters)

The only way is up for Park City's defense at this point in time — although Charlie Weis muttered the same sentiments before his first year at Kansas last year, and the Jayhawks lost one more game under his direction. However, it's highly unlikely Park City will allow the most points in the state again this year.

“We’re going between a 4-3 and a 3-4 — we’re going to run both,” Shepherd explained. “We have a really good linebacker corps. It sort of depends on how the defensive line progresses. If we can get four good down linemen we’ll probably be in the 4-3 a little bit more. Regardless we’re not going to choose one over the other — we’re going to rotate situationally between the two.”

The heart of the defense is senior middle linebacker Konnor Andersen. He’s a powerful, instinctive run-stopper. He had 90 tackles as a junior and added weight to his frame in the offseason.

Jonathan Hockman, a 200-pound ‘backer who was all-region in Seattle last season, joined the program this season and should make an immediate impact.

Moritz, Wing and Dustin Landis patrol the secondary at safety positions. All three will start on the offensive side of the ball and rotate between possessions on defense.

Coaches preseason 3AA North straw poll: Fourth

Deseret News 3AA North prediction: Fourth

Bottom line: Park City's program was in complete disarray in 2012. At the end of last season the Miners were down to nearly 30 players remaining in the program and were forced to cancel sophomore and JV games. It wasn’t working. With Shepherd’s hiring — along with many former and experienced coaches — the excitement and more importantly the discipline and organization have returned to a very respectable program. Park City should improve dramatically this season.

Park City coaching history

2013 — Mike Shepherd (0-0)

2010-2012 — Kai Smalley (10-21)

2005-2009 — Brandon Matich (39-18)

1998-2004 — Mike Shepherd (53-28)

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