After finishing his career as one of the school’s most prolific passers, Morgan Dirickson’s ready to make the same impression on the college gridiron.
Dirickson, who quarterbacked the last three seasons for the Greenwave, will join three former teammates as he heads north to play for Mark Samson’s Montana State University-Northern this fall. Brennan Lewis, Trent Tarner and Dakota Schelling signed their letter of intent in April to play for the Lights, an NAIA program that competes in the same conference (Frontier) as well-known powerhouse Carroll College.
“I decided to go to Montana mainly because my friends (Tarner, Schelling and Lewis) were going there,” Dirickson said. “I originally planned on going to college for academics. But after a few weeks of working out with the guys, I decided to give the coach a call and he had a place for me still so I decided to take his offer.”
Before leading Fallon to the state championship game last season, Dirickson made a name for himself in the NFL’s Pass, Punt and Kick competition.
“I’m not sure it had a huge impact on my football goals, but it taught me that if there’s something I want bad enough I have the tools, work ethic and ability to accomplish them,” Dirickson said about the PPK competition.
Dirickson scored well enough to advance to the sectional in five of his seven years and eventually succeeded in making the cut for the national round. He qualified for nationals after the 2005 sectional in Oakland and participated in Indianapolis and was invited to the AFC Championship between the Colts and Steelers in January 2006.
Dirickson almost returned to the final stage after winning the sectional in Oakland in 2011 but his 10th-place total distance didn’t make the cut. Dirickson advanced to the sectional in Oakland in his final year of eligibility and was invited to the Raiders’ game in 2012.
Jump to the high school season and Dirickson became the starter as a sophomore and led Fallon to the state semifinals in 2011. The Greenwave came one pass away from upsetting Truckee and advancing to the title game.
“My sophomore year when I won the job was one of my proudest moments,” Dirickson said. “I’m not sure I’ve done anything else to be able to say I did everything I could have done. Losing in the final game to Truckee in heart-break fashion was also one of the most influential moments in my football career. I’ve never been so sad and motivated in my life.”
Dirickson’s maturity continued to grow in his junior season despite Fallon losing in the first round of playoffs and missing state. The 2013 season was not only Dirickson’s best, but one of the best Greenwave seasons in the last 30 years.
Dirickson, who was named Division I-A and Northern I-A Offensive Player of the Year, and the Greenwave nearly finished last season undefeated before Lowry upset Fallon in the regular-season finale. Fallon, though, came back stronger the following week, knocking off Fernley in the playoffs and then taking down Moapa Valley in the opening game of the state playoffs. The Greenwave, though, fell short in the championship game against Faith Lutheran.
“Our loss to Lowry may have been the best thing for us,” Dirickson said. “It showed us we weren’t invincible and we still had several areas to improve on. The week leading up to state practice felt different. We knew it would be our last week and at the same time I didn’t feel as prepared as I normally did.”
Dirickson’s strong and accurate arm, coupled with a speedy receiving corps, gave coach Brooke Hill a potent attack in the air. The team’s signal caller finished with 2,314 passing yards and 32 touchdowns as he completed 100-of-211 passes. His biggest performance came against rival Elko at home when he threw seven touchdown passes and accumulated 440 yards in the air.
Dirickson will have competition when he plays for the Lights as they signed a quarterback, Jess Krahn from Bush Prairie, Wash., earlier this year and have senior Travis Dean returning.
Dean backed up Derek Lear, a four-year starter and two-time all-conference performer, who graduated last year.
Krahn was a four-year starter and four-time all-conference selection at Hockinson High School who amassed 3,700 passing yards and 30 touchdowns in his last two seasons.
“We still have some veterans, but we also have a lot of young guys,” Dean told the school’s website during spring workouts two months ago. “A lot of guys don’t have that game experience, and we are still trying to build that camaraderie and get better every day.
“We have a lot of young receivers on offense, and we have some defensive guys moving around. But we are getting the hang of things, and once we get more live situations behind us, we will have a better idea of what we need to continue to work on.”
Northern won three straight games to begin last season and climbed into the NAIA national rankings at No. 18 by the end of September. The Lights, though, ran into a tough stretch and finished with only one win for the rest of the season as they ended with a 4-6 record after losing to Rocky Mountain College, 49-28.
The Lights open the season on Aug. 30 in Butte, Mont., when they take on Montana Tech. The home opener is on Sept. 6 against Dickinson State University.