MOOSEHEART – After losing a strong senior class, the Mooseheart football team was unsure if it would be as competitive this season as it was in years past.
But the Red Ramblers have competed at a high level and are closing in on what would be their fourth playoff berth in the past five seasons. With a convincing 48-0 win Saturday against Christian Liberty Academy, Mooseheart is just one win away from becoming playoff-eligible.
The Ramblers are off to a 4-1 start, their lone loss being to Luther North. The Ramblers are in second place in the Northeastern Athletic conference behind unbeaten Ottawa Marquette, which Mooseheart will face Oct. 11.
In their four wins, the Ramblers have outscored their opponents, 194-23. The quarterback play of senior Willie Nicholas has been a pleasant surprise for the Ramblers. In past years, Nicholas has played linebacker and receiver.
“It has been great,” Nicholas said of the position change. “I am familiar with a lot of these guys since we have been going to school together since middle school. Being able to play alongside them is great because we really get to see how far we have come.”
Mooseheart’s defense, meanwhile, has given up a total of 36 points in five games. This past weekend against Christian Liberty, the defense recovered three fumbles and intercepted two passes. Senior defensive end Brandon Gadson has liked the way the unit has played so far.
“Our defense has been pretty strong; we have a lot to work on here and there,” Gadson said. “We try our best to bring all 11 guys to the ball and play as a team.”
Special teams has played a large role for the Ramblers. Eric Vogeler returned a punt for a touchdown in Saturday’s game. Coach Gary Urwiler realizes the importance of being strong in this facet of the game.
“Any chance that we get to advance the ball we’re going to try to do. We look at these plays on special teams as moments that can change the game,” Urwiler said.
As homecoming approaches Saturday, Mooseheart is getting ready for a big conference showdown with longtime rival Alden-Hebron at 1 p.m. As a Mooseheart graduate, Urwiler knows how important homecoming is to the Mooseheart community.
“A lot of family and alumni come to the football game and want to see the strong tradition. We’re looking forward to playing a competitive game against our well respected rival, Alden-Hebron,” Urwiler said.
These next four weeks of the season will be crucial for the Ramblers. Each remaining opponent currently has a record above .500.
“Our next four weeks of conference play will be pretty critical as we are facing some strong teams here that all have winning records; it will be a fight for the next four weeks,” Urwiler said.