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Prep football: New roles spark Park City's offense

Published September 19, 2012 3:29 pm

Prep football • Ian Moritz has thrown for 578 yards and six scores.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Park City • Ian Moritz hits Trevor Kelsch for a 30-yard score, a bright spot in an otherwise ugly loss to Snow Canyon.

It's the first touchdown pass for Moritz at Park City, and the first person to greet him for a celebration in the end zone is not Kelsch. It is not an offensive lineman or senior running back Alex Boyle.

Alec Wing, the junior starting-quarterback-turned-wide-receiver who ceded the job to Moritz because of injuries, sprints down the field to celebrate with the kid who took his job. The two embrace and exchange high-fives, the beginning of an unlikely quarterback-receiver relationship.

Coach Kai Smalley turns to Ian's father, assistant coach John Moritz, on the sideline.

"Don't say 'I told you so.' "

The Miners had been outscored 109-7 before the touchdown throw. They were about to be 0-3. Something wasn't working. Opposing defenses were loading the box, daring Park City to test them over the top.

Smalley converted Wing — one of Park City's most versatile athletes and the team's best defensive back — into a deep-threat receiver midway through the loss to Snow Canyon. Smalley handed the keys to the offense to Moritz, a transfer from rival Wasatch.

Moritz has thrown for 578 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception since the quarterback switch. Thirty-five percent of his completions,including five for scores, have gone to Wing.

Now Park City is 1-1 with Moritz under center and Wing on the perimeter.

"It's a match made in heaven for us," Smalley said. "They do a good job of feeding off each other, and they're both talented athletes. We need them on the field at the same time."

The two were embroiled in a quarterback battle that lasted much of the summer. They fought to remain friends, at times pushing their competitiveness aside and at times watching it take over. When Wing won the position entering the season, it would have been easy for Moritz to sulk. The same is true when Moritz took back the job. Wing could have withdrawn into a shell. Neither happened.

Players and coaches agree that Wing's command of the locker room hasn't diminished since the move. He has served as a mentor to Moritz and routinely calms him down after mistakes or provides instruction on how to combat a blitz. Wing and Moritz were co-captains in last week's 34-27 win over Delta.

"I look at it as us winning together instead of, 'This guy took my spot. I'm so mad at him. I'm going to lie down and give up,' " Wing said. "We're using each other as weapons, and we want to do whatever makes sense for the team. Right now, this is making a lot of sense."

The two have a chemistry that appears to have been built over several years, not months. They've attended quarterback camps together and always seem to pair up in practice drills. They even finish each other's sentences.

Above all, they attribute their effectiveness to both knowing the quarterback position inside and out.

"He'll see something that I might not see from where I am, and he'll tell me," Moritz said. "We run it and it works."

Take last week's practice, for example. Wing runs a post route. A scout-team cornerback bites hard on Wing's head fake. Right on cue, Moritz floats the ball perfectly into Wing's outstretched arms in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.