Last year, the best offense for Mike Morgan and his Colfax Bulldogs was – literally – a good offense.
This year, Morgan’s young offense will be a direct result of good defense. Just how good will soon be on display when the Northeast 2B football season opens Friday and the four-time defending league champions prepare to go after a fifth title.
“It’s the $64,000 question every year,” Morgan said. “I don’t mean to be cliché, but I think we will be contenders again. I’ve said that pretty much every year, but not in the sense that I think it’s ours because we’ve won it before.
“There are some really tough teams to get through, and defending this league title will be no easy task.”
But thanks to a strong core of senior linemen, Morgan’s Bulldogs might just be up to the challenge, with a different approach than in years past.
The Bulldogs lost several key skill position players to graduation – including a 1,000-yard rusher, a core of all-league receivers and a veteran starting quarterback. Morgan has a total of seven seniors and four juniors among 38 total players.
“We are a very young team and we’ve had to kind of go back to more basic stuff from that standpoint,” said Morgan. “When you have 11 upperclassmen, you know sophomores have to see playing time. Depth will be a concern for us.”
But Morgan did retain a handful of senior linemen that he expects to anchor his new-look team.
At the head of the senior class is two-way player Jon Mellor, an offensive lineman and middle linebacker with three years of varsity experience.
“He’s our brains out front,” said Morgan. “His knowledge of the game is pretty crucial to us.”
Another critical piece to Morgan’s puzzle is senior Cole Neu, a returning all-league player on offense and second team defensive pick. Neu brings size and speed to the Bulldogs, and another three years of varsity experience.
“We don’t have guys that are 200 pounds, and Cole is pushing that number,” Morgan said. “He’s 5-foot-8 and just a big brick house.”
With all-league quarterback Justin Berarducci graduating last season, Brady Ellis has been handed the task of leading Colfax’s offense this season. Ellis has backed up Morgan for three years and spent time last year as a receiver and defensive back.
Now he’s stepping into the role his brother, Levi Ellis, held in 2007.
“It’s his turn,” said Morgan. “He’s excited about taking over, and I’m excited for it too. He runs the option really well for us, he’s quick, he’s got a good arm, and he understands what his role is and what he’s doing out there.”