Play of lines helps team hit high notes
The message at the other end of the line announces: “This is Mike Morgan, athletic director, band director and head football coach here at Colfax. Sorry I can’t get to the phone …”
Football and band coach? Morgan said the music in the band room is so loud, at times he can’t feel his cell phone vibrate.
Vibrations are good for the man who performs the unusual double with administration thrown in. The band director/coach will lead a trombone-playing lineman, trumpet-playing linebacker and drumming strong safety onto the artificial turf at the Tacoma Dome Saturday afternoon in search of his second state football championship.
He will return to lead a five-band school concert Monday.
Sports and music were ingrained in him as a youngster. They went hand-in-hand from fifth grade on, with his background a combination of bluegrass and football turf.
“All the guys on our football team at one point have been in my bands,” he said.
Starters Sam Mellor, a 225-pound lineman, middle linebacker Stetson Steiger and Morgan’s son strong safety Kellen, con? tinue to play.
Their emphasis now, however, is on football. The undefeated Bulldogs play the unbeaten Adna Pirates at 4 p.m. Saturday for the 2B championship in Gridiron Classic, the six-game, two-day state title extravaganza in the Dome.
Much of Colfax’s success has hinged on the play of offensive and defensive fronts, including seniors Mellor, Tyler Morse, Ryan Conrad and Tuffy Hickman. Morgan said that because of their dominance, they demand double-teams which have freed up the linebackers and his son, Colfax’s leading tackler, to make plays.
Morse, a two-way all-league performer, is a cerebral athlete with textbook form, Morgan said. His answers in conversations are measured.
“Let’s put it this way,” he said when asked about the role of the quartet. “Everything starts with the line, if you think about it. If you don’t get blocking, the play doesn’t go anywhere.”
Still – and this is what Morse said he likes about football – it isn’t just about the linemen or backs, but about the sum of the parts.
“It’s like the parts of a bicycle or a car,” he said. “We might be the engine, but without the steering wheel you’re not going anywhere.”
After last season ended with a semifinal loss to Asotin, Morse and his teammates took out their frustration in the weight room. At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, he didn’t add or subtract beef as some of the linemen did, but they all became stronger and more determined.
“I think that having a lot of starters back really did help us,” he said. “We know how to fit together.”
The line and most skilled positions returned, including quarterback Alex Teade. New running backs have filled in seamlessly.
Morgan said that after Ethan Smith and Joe Cammack graduated, he knew that Tyler McNannay, Steiger and Alvin Li would be solid replacements.
Like a band concert, players working together hope to make beautiful music this weekend on the football field.
“I was excited and really happy to put in one more week playing for a state championship,” Morse said, indicating he didn’t want the season to end. “We’ve had great memories already, but I’d be even more satisfied with one more win on Saturday.”
Playing on the road in the Northwest League is never easy.
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