Morgan Maroon, a Jr. Pee Wee Football team coached by Rusty Hurd and his team of assistants, returned to the Mini Bowl Championship game for the third time in three years. In 2016, the team won the Jr. Mite title over Clearfield Gold, 18-0. The following year, 2017, they returned to the Mitey Mite championship, but lost to Clearfield 19-12. This year, in an epic defensive battle that spanned all of regulation and moved into overtime, Morgan Maroon reclaimed the title from Clearfield with a 7-0 victory.
Morgan Maroon reached the championship game in dramatic fashion. With only 58 seconds remaining in their semifinal match up, they were down by eight points. They moved the ball 70 yards and scored with no time on the clock to force double over time when Morgan Maroon was finally able to prevail over Kayesville Black 26-20.
Clearfield advanced to the championship game with a 30-12 semifinal win over Morgan White, Morgan County’s other Jr. Pee Wee division team. “There are a number of great athletes this age,” Coach Rusty Hurd noted. “Morgan White played a great game against Clearfield. Clearfield had not lost a game in two years coming into the Mini Bowl and was averaging 35 points a game. It would have been great to have played all all-Morgan Mini Bowl Championship.”
In the championship game, Morgan Maroon didn’t allow Clearfield a first down the entire game. “Defense was big,” Hurd noted. “If I were to give a defensive player of the game, it would definitely have gone to Tyson Pace. He played the best I have ever seen him play. He was flying all over the field.”
The score remained tied at 0-0 as time expired in regulation. In overtime, Morgan got the ball first and soon found themselves facing 4th and goal from the 8. Quarterback Jack Hurd then connected with Bracken Saunders in the end zone to give the Morgan the 7-0 lead. Morgan prevented Clearfield from scoring and celebrated their second championship in three years.
“On the last play of our Mini Bowl game, we had an overall complete team effort. All 11 kids on the field did their jobs perfectly. It was amazing to watch,” Coach Hurd recalled.
Hurd, who is in his 11th year as a head coach for the WFFL and third year with this team, praised his players and fellow coaches alike. “This group of boys are the smartest, most heady group of players. They run and understand a very complex offense, and all of this is possible because we have such amazing coaches who dedicate so much time.”
Hurd is the head coach and offensive coordinator with Joe Hansen as defensive coordinator and Rob Saunders managing the offensive and defensive lines. Special teams are coached by Tony Peterson, Ryan Nye works with the defensive backs, and Cody Williams is the statistician.
“It sure is rewarding and fun to work with the kids,” Hurd concluded. “It’s great to watch the kids grow and learn life lessons and have success. It’s great to see the success the younger kids are having translate into success in the high school programs. It takes a community effort to build our programs.”