Moorhead HS football preview
There was supposed to be a learning curve for last year’s Moorhead football team. The Spuds lost 31 seniors heading into 2013, including running back and linebacker Chase Morlock, who rushed for 1,820 yards and averaged 11.74 yards per carry.
Moorhead had every reason to be mediocre, but the Spuds found themselves in the Class 5A, Section 8 title game – a place coach Kevin Feeney has led them to all four seasons he’s been at the helm.
The game ended with Moorhead throwing an interception in the Sartell-St. Stephen end zone, trailing by five. This after the Spuds trailed 24-7 with 8 minutes, 59 seconds to go.
With four straight trips to the section title game, two section titles and two trips to state, no excuse is worthy of giving up on a season for the Spuds. It doesn’t matter how many players graduated.
“We just needed one play,” Feeney said. “Now that our program is what it is, our kids expect to win and expect to compete for championships. We feel like we’re very close, but there’s a handful of plays last season that went wrong and we had to play with a sense of urgency. Those can’t happen.”
Moorhead has the formula for a special season. Jim Gotta Stadium has been redone with new field turf, the Spuds return running back Jade Lawrence – who ran for 827 yards and nine touchdowns on 121 carries last season – and, for the first time in his time at Moorhead, Feeney has returning offensive linemen.
“Isn’t that crazy,” Feeney said of never having returners from the offensive line in his four seasons at Moorhead. “We’ve basically had to start over every year. We feel like we’ll be able to accelerate our offensive scheme. I don’t think we’ll have to take time on the offense because we have such good experience up front.”
Moorhead has three starting offensive linemen returning in Ethan Marquart, Brady Emerson and Brandon Bundgaard.
Feeney doesn’t see any reason for growing pains like Moorhead had last year when the Spuds opened the season 2-2. They won three of the next four, but the youth could be seen in a 26-23 overtime loss to Brainerd in which the Spuds led 20-0 at halftime.
“We lose in overtime to a Brainerd team and they ended up playing in the state championship,” Feeney said. “Our goal is to compete for a championship, but there’s a process to that, and I think that the team knows that. It’s got to build every week. We aren’t going to think about championships. Right now, it’s about playing Alexandria.”
Feeney says the Spuds are ready, especially with the excitement surrounding their new look to their home stadium.
“It’s amazing the feeling just because the change in grass between your feet,” Feeney said. “It’s hard to explain until you actually have gone through it. I think this team feels like we have the depth we haven’t had in years passed. That was problem for the last few seasons. We’ve felt like we ran out of gas.”