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Shouldering the load for Warroad football team

Spencer Musgrove

WARROAD—Spencer Musgrove isn't big by football standards. But a lot of weight has been put on the shoulders of the 160-pound Warroad High School junior.

Musgrove has been the workhorse in the offense as Warroad has jumped to a 4-0 start this season.

"Spencer's a strong kid. He has broad shoulders,'' Warriors coach Gabe Richards said.

A first-year starter, Musgrove has rushed for 604 yards on 117 carries. In the run-oriented offense—quarterback Tristan Johnson has attempted just 24 passes, completing 11 for 158 yards—the next-busiest running back is Dylan Cain. The senior has 40 carries for 213 yards.

"I love it,'' Musgrove said of the average of almost 30 carries per game. "It's so much fun, the excitement of getting the yards and being able to thank your linemen for their great blocking.

"I'm usually a little sore and banged up after every game. I'm tired and exhausted, ready for bed.''

Musgrove has become the centerpiece of an offense that last season relied on the balance of the passing of Beau Wilmer and the running skills of Noah Herron and Tommy Villayphone.

All three graduated last spring. Cain (63-491) was the top returning rusher. Musgrove had only four carries.

"Spencer's been successful,'' Richards said. "This isn't necessarily what we'd planned. We like to move the carries around to different backs. Dylan is a good back, too. He's a physical guy. With his blocking ability, Dylan has been been able to break Spencer open for yardage.''

Musgrove has reached the 100-yard mark in all four games, two of which were played in rainy conditions that made Warroad more run-oriented.

"I feel good having the ball with our backs and our line,'' Richards said. "Dylan gets hard yards. He drops his shoulder and goes straight ahead into the defense. Spencer is more using his vision and speed. He runs inside, sees a hole, makes his cut and goes for it. He has good speed.

"Our defense is playing well. And when you're controlling the ball and the clock, good things happen.''

Warroad allows an average of only 8.3 points a game with a defense led by Kip Knutson, Max Gausen and Mack Boulianne. The offense averages 21.5 points, with Musgrove accounting for seven of the team's 11 touchdowns.

"We knew Dylan and Spencer would be a pretty good backfield,'' Richards said. "Did we know it would work out exactly like this? No. But it is the way it has worked for us.''

Probably nobody is more surprised by Musgrove's workload than the junior.

"I didn't think I'd be getting this many carries,'' he said.