Park City • Jack Skidmore and his friends have been winning championships since they were as young as 9 years old.
The senior quarterback for Park City High School, along with about a dozen other seniors, have all played football together since before they became Miners — some even for nearly a decade. They won four championships with the local youth football program before they stepped foot on the high school’s campus.
It’s that championship mettle — and the tight bond the group has formed — that’s made the 2019 iteration of the Miners so formidable. It’s also what they hope will propel them to the school’s first-ever state football title when then play Sky View in the 4A title game Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“The connection we had back then sticks with us all the way through high school,” senior receiver Brady Baumann said during practice on a snowy Wednesday evening. “And it shows on the field now.”
The group that’s been together the longest, Skidmore said, consists of him, Baumann, James Williams, Nicky Kraus and Nick Sylvester. Chase Johansen joined the youth program in seventh grade, while Dylan Bauer and Andrew Pederson joined in eighth, Skidmore said.
Junior Kirby Baynes is also in that group despite being a year younger, and may have even won more than four youth championships, Skidmore said.
“Looking back on it,” Skidmore recalled fondly, “it’s kind of sick.”
FRIDAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP GAME SCHEDULE
At Rice-Eccles Stadium, University of Utah
Park City vs. Sky View, 11 a.m.
Orem vs. Timpview, 6:30 p.m.
Corner Canyon vs. American Fork, 2:30 p.m.
Baumann said that even before the group entered high school, they had a refuse-to-lose demeanor. And while the football is certainly different as a 9-year-old compared to a 17- or 18-year-old, there are certain things that never change.
“I think the winning mentality, the love for the game doesn’t change,” Baumann said. “And if you have that at a young age and you put forth the work throughout your entire years all the way to high school, good things will happen and the results that you want will provide itself.”
The results have definitely been there. The Miners enter their title game with an unblemished 13-0 record. Skidmore has passed for 1,705 yards, Bauer has rushed for 1,881 yards, and McCurdy has 969 receiving yards.
On the defensive side, Johansen leads the team with 140 tackles. The next closest amount comes from Baumann, who has 88.
Park City made it to the semifinal round of the state tournament last year, but lost to Dixie High School. Going into this season, fourth-year coach Josh Montzingo had a feeling his team would make a run, prompting him to name the theme of 2019, "Swing the Pick.”
Montzingo said the thinking behind that phrase comes from silver mining — the bedrock Park City was founded on — and the tedious, repetitive work it takes to reach the reward. The mantra is an example of the culture he has instilled since taking the head job four years ago after spending three as an assistant.
One of the first tasks Montzingo completed when he took over, he said, was to connect with the local youth football program. Even in his days as an assistant, he identified the talent those teams had and made a point to make them feel like part of the high school program when he got the opportunity.
It’s clear that Montzingo taking some time with Park City’s little league teams stuck in the minds of the seniors on his team now.
“He knew us, we knew him, we trusted him, he trusted us,” Baumann said. "That connection that we had with him, it grew and it solidified itself.”
Both Montzingo and Baumann admitted that winning the school’s first state championship would be immensely important to them, the team and the community of Park City. The team as a whole is confident that goal will come to fruition.
Sky View will present a challenge. It’s only lost one game all season and has had a relatively easy run to the title game.
But many of the Miners have been in this position before.
“We’re just winners,” senior receiver Mark McCurdy said.