MOORHEAD — Moorhead Spuds head football coach Kevin Feeney started to change his offensive DNA near the end of last season, committing to a pass-heavy spread offense.

The radical move was a departure from the play calling he’s implemented since he became a high school head coach in 1999.

“I’ve definitely been a run-first guy as a play caller ever since I got into this,” Feeney said.

The Spuds have been an aerial juggernaut this season, averaging around 300 yards per game passing, while averaging more than 100 rushing yards per contest.

Moorhead quarterback Trey Feeney fends off Brainerd's Kouper Seidl on Thursday, Nov. 5, at Jim Gotta Stadium in Moorhead.
David Samson / The Forum
Moorhead quarterback Trey Feeney fends off Brainerd's Kouper Seidl on Thursday, Nov. 5, at Jim Gotta Stadium in Moorhead. David Samson / The Forum

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“In high school football, we don’t have the luxury of recruiting kids,” Feeney said. “We have to adapt to the talent that we have.”

Spuds senior quarterback Trey Feeney threw six touchdown passes in the first half to spark Moorhead to a 48-0 victory against Brainerd on Thursday, Nov. 5, in Minnesota Class 5A football at Jim Gotta Stadium.

"Our wide receivers did a great job of getting open and our offensive line did a great job of protections," Kevin said. "Trey was doing a good job of getting the ball to the guys on time and allowing them to make a play after the catch."

Trey Feeney has been piling up the passing yards this season, with more than 1,400 through five games with 27 touchdowns and one interception. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 263 yards and seven touchdowns against Brainerd.

Moorhead (5-0) remained unbeaten, while recording its third shutout this fall. The Spuds have allowed 18 points through five games.

"Our speed defensively has been a real positive for our football," Kevin said.

The Spuds scored on six of their seven possessions in the first half Thursday. Trey threw three touchdown passes to Blake Walthall and one each to Jacqui Fitzpatrick, Connor Heinsch and Brady Walthall over the first two quarters. The Spuds scored 21 points in the first quarter and 21 more in the second quarter to build a 42-0 halftime lead.

Trey didn’t envision running a pass-dominated offense based on watching his dad’s coaching career before the senior QB became a varsity player.

“It was sure run-first, growing up watching him,” Trey said. “I didn’t think I was ever going to pass this much in high school.”

Moorhead's Brady Walthal turns upfield against Brainerd on Thursday, Nov. 5, at Jim Gotta Stadium in Moorhead.
David Samson / The Forum
Moorhead's Brady Walthal turns upfield against Brainerd on Thursday, Nov. 5, at Jim Gotta Stadium in Moorhead. David Samson / The Forum

Coach Feeney said the Spuds committed to throwing the ball during the final game of the regular season last fall, a move that helped Moorhead make a run to the Class 5A state quarterfinals. Elk River scored on the final play of the game to earn a 58-55 victory to advance to the state semifinals.

“We had to figure out what was the best way for us to keep advancing in the playoffs,” Kevin said of changing the offense.

The philosophy adjustment was dictated by personnel, starting with Trey, who has committed to play football at the University of North Dakota. The Spuds also have a collection of talented senior wide receivers that includes the Walthalls and Fitzpatrick.

Senior running back George Nyanforh is the team’s leading rusher with 230 yards in five games.

“Late last season and early on this season, it was not uncommon for us to have less than five rushes in a half,” said Kevin, who is the son of legendary Bismarck High School coach Bob Feeney, who died in 2012. “I would say that would have been 100% opposite of what my dad would have back in the day.”

Moorhead's Brady Walthal grabs a reception against Brainerd on Thursday, Nov. 5, at Jim Gotta Stadium in Moorhead.
David Samson / The Forum
Moorhead's Brady Walthal grabs a reception against Brainerd on Thursday, Nov. 5, at Jim Gotta Stadium in Moorhead. David Samson / The Forum

Brady Walthall has 40 catches for 611 yards and nine touchdowns this season. He had seven catches for 68 yards and two TDs on Thursday. Blake Walthall led the Spuds against Brainerd with eight catches for 126 yards and three touchdowns.

“It’s always nice to play with Trey because obviously he is a great quarterback,” Brady said. “He’s just a smart quarterback in general. He knows the game so well and he reads defenses like no other quarterback in the state. … He knows where to throw and when to throw it. He makes me a better player as well.”

The Spuds run most of their plays out of three, four and five receiver sets. While a conventional running game isn’t featured, Kevin said some of the passing plays are an extension of the run game. Short patterns are designed to give receivers a chance to gain additional yards after the catch.

“It’s just getting the ball out quick and getting them into space,” Kevin said. “We’ve just got guys who can make plays with the ball.”

Kevin said there has been a learning curve in play calling with a scheme he hasn’t run much during his coaching career. In a run-first offense, it’s more figuring out the defense’s front seven. This season, Kevin said it’s been more trying to figure out what the back seven players on a defense are doing.

“It’s reenergized myself on learning a whole different style of football,” Kevin said.

“I’m grateful that I get to pass this much,” Trey said. “I know a lot of quarterbacks don’t get to do it, but I’m grateful that I can.”

Kevin Feeney said transitioning to this offense has helped the team get more skill players out for football, in particular basketball players. He added the Spuds passing game has similarities to the basketball court.

“It’s very similar to basketball concepts as far as finding green space and finding open spaces on the floor,” Kevin said.

While the Spuds have found success with the spread offense, coach Feeney isn’t certain the move will be long term.

“It’s hard to say that because coming down the pike, we don’t know if we are going to have this type of skill players and maybe our strength is going to be in different areas,” Kevin said. “Right now this is the formula for success.”

BHS 0 0 0 0—0

MHS 21 21 6 0—48

MHS—Fitzpatrick 15 pass from Feeney (Allawi kick)

MHS—Blake Walthall 2 pass from Feeney (Allawi kick)

MHS—Heinsch 7 pass from Feeney (Allawi kick)

MHS—Brady Walthall 2 pass from Feeney (Allawi kick)

MHS—Blake Walthall 14 pass from Feeney (Allawi kick)

MHS—Blake Walthall 4 pass from Feeney (Allawi kick)

MHS—Brady Walthall 17 pass from Feeney (kick blocked)