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Community support helped Morlock deal with the death of his father

FARGO-The best thing, Chase Morlock was told, was to get right back into a routine and that's what he has done. Every day, the North Dakota State senior running back goes to class and heads over to football practice-life as he's known it for four...

NDSU captain Chase Morlock leads the Bison football team during the tunnel walk before play against South Dakota State on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016.David Samson / The Forum
NDSU captain Chase Morlock leads the Bison football team during the tunnel walk before play against South Dakota State on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016.David Samson / The Forum

FARGO-The best thing, Chase Morlock was told, was to get right back into a routine and that's what he has done. Every day, the North Dakota State senior running back goes to class and heads over to football practice-life as he's known it for four years now.

That doesn't mean it's always easy.

On Saturday, Oct. 29, when the Bison play at Northern Iowa in a key Missouri Valley Football Conference game, it will have been three weeks since his father, Paul Morlock, passed away after a battle with cancer. In the weeks before and the days after, the community support was something out of this world , Chase said.

"It's been crazy, times like these, the way this program and all of Bison nation has been there for me and my family, it's pretty remarkable," he said. "As well as the Moorhead Spuds community and all of Moorhead and my friends. When things like this happen, it's cool to see and it's made it a lot easier just to deal with everything. I have support all around here and it's another reason why this community is so special."

Morlock signed with NDSU out of Moorhead High and played immediately as a true freshman in 2013. Paul made it to every FCS national title game in Frisco, Texas-even last year when he wasn't feeling so great.
The goal was for his father to make it through this season, Chase said, but the news around the end of September wasn't so promising. Chase spent every minute he could in the first week of October at the hospital.

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He said head coach Chris Klieman made at least a couple of visits. A few other assistants dropped by.

He didn't travel with the team to Missouri State on the weekend of Oct. 8, and the news of Paul's death hit the team after the game. The memorial service was that week on Wednesday night and the funeral was Thursday afternoon.

"At the funeral, every single player came through and hugged my mom and family," Chase said, referring to his mother Jean Morlock. "There was just tons of support, from coaches' wives and all the players and friends of mine. It was good for her. She needs it. All the support she's gotten is pretty spectacular."

There was little doubt Chase was going to play that week against South Dakota State. He was seen at player meetings on Tuesday afternoon. On Saturday afternoon, he led the team in the tunnel walk onto Gate City Bank Field.
"My dad would have killed me if I missed another game so I knew I would be out there," he said. "It didn't make it any easier. It was just tough being out there knowing he wasn't there and it was tough being on the road last week without him. I don't think that will get any easier for however many games. He was going through hell the last year, just the pain and stuff from cancer, so I'm glad he's not in pain anymore."

This Saturday would have been a Paul Morlock game. A standout wrestler at Moorhead High, just like Chase, who wrestled at Concordia College, a rough-and-tumble rivalry game with UNI would have been up his alley.

"He was a tough-minded person with a wrestler mentality," Chase said.

If you talk to anybody on the Bison football team, they would tell you the same thing about the captain who wears No. 25.

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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