Having just completed the best two-year stretch the program has seen since 1985-86, Mooseheart’s football team finds itself missing quite a few familiar faces.
The Red Ramblers went a combined 19-3 the past two seasons, reaching the second round of the Class 1A playoffs in each season. But stars like three-year starting quarterback Jon Hart, Oumaru Abdulahi and Sahr Mahoney have moved on to graduation.
“I don’t want to say what our success is going to be, I don’t know,” Mooseheart coach Gary Urwiler said. “We have 41 players, and 26 of them are freshmen and sophomores. We do have some guys that are talented and can do some things for us, but we need to grow and mature fast. I can’t guarantee how fast that maturation process is going to occur.”
He points out that the biggest key will be sorting out the starting quarterback question. Urwiler said that as many as six players were in the mix for the starting quarterback spot, but that he has narrowed it down to two or three. Senior Willie Nicolas and junior Abdul Yusif are the two players duking it out this week; with last year’s junior varsity quarterback David Serrano also vying for time.
“We’ve been blessed the last three years to have a quarterback that has taken us to some successful times,” Urwiler said. “Now we’re trying to replace that.”
On the outside, JJ Odunsi and Hameed Odunewu bring some size to the receiver position, regardless of who the starting quarterback winds up being.
Abdulahi and Mahoney were key playmakers that need to be replaced, as well. It looks like junior Joe Feemorlu will be the guy getting the bulk of the carries. The sturdy back from Columbus, Ohio put on 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason and is ready to carry the load.
“He’s going to be the workhorse,” Urwiler said. “He’s a thoroughbred. He’s fast. He may be faster than some of the guys we’ve had in the past. He’s very strong. He’s had to mature into the role and I think this may be his breakout year. He’s come to camp this year ready for that.”
Feemorlu said that he was able to learn quite a bit from the skill position players that dominated the team the past two years and is displaying some humble traits when discussing his role on the team.
“I don’t really consider myself the centerpiece of the offense,” Feemorlu said. “It’s everyone putting in their work. I’ve got guys blocking for me. I just have to make sure I run the ball as hard as I can.”
Among the younger players, the Red Ramblers have some intriguing size, led by 6-foot-6, 240-pound freshman Charles Walsh. Sophomore Freddie Okito figures to get some time in the backfield with Feemorlu. Senior linebacker John Ranum will spearhead the defense.
There will be some new faces on the turf at Mooseheart this fall, but he team is ready for the challenge.
“We’re moving along as best as we can, putting in a lot of work to rebuild the team,” senior Brandon Gadson said. “It’s hard work. We’re just going to use what we’ve got and put in the work we can and play with our hearts.”