PREP FOOTBALL: Red River coaching staff ponders Derek Murph's role on team

The discussion of incorporating Derek Murph more into the running game didn't last long when it came up within the Grand Forks Red River High School football coaching staff. "We considered using him as a runner more," Roughriders coach Vyrn Muir ...


The discussion of incorporating Derek Murph more into the running game didn’t last long when it came up within the Grand Forks Red River High School football coaching staff.

“We considered using him as a runner more,” Roughriders coach Vyrn Muir said. “Derek has shown some nice things when he’s had to scramble. He’s got some speed and some shake-and-bake ability.

“But we don’t want to take the chance of him getting hurt by running the ball more.”

That’s because Murph has become too valuable to the offense of the 2-3 Roughriders with his passing ability.


The first-year starting quarterback has completed 63-of-96 passes (65.6 percent accuracy) for 733 yards. The junior has completed at least 50 percent of his attempts in each game. His low passing yardage in a game is 84. Otherwise, he’s thrown for 119 or more yards in every game and has been intercepted just four times.

His 63 completions include 12 touchdowns - one less touchdown pass than Chad Bartosh, the all-state quarterback Murph replaced, threw the entire 2013 season.

“If somebody had told us in August that he’d have those kinds of numbers, we would have been pleasantly surprised,” Muir said. “But now it is what we’ve come to expect from him. He’s an integral part of what we’re doing on offense.”

Part is a key word. Murph has been helped by a talented receiving corps. Braedan Hanson leads the EDC in receptions (28) and is second in receiving yards (312) and touchdowns (six). Austin Reynolds is third in catches (17) and fifth in receiving yards (211). Ty Straus (8-113) was a top receiver before being injured.

Last Friday, Hanson wrestled a pass in the end zone away from a defender for a touchdown in a win against West Fargo Sheyenne. Reynolds took a 20-yard pass, split a pair of defenders and outran another for a 56-yard TD.

“Murph has been accurate,” Muir said. “He’s put the ball where our receivers can make plays. And they’ve had a big part (in the passing game). They’ve made some nice catches. We’re throwing more short passes to our tall and athletic receivers.”

But the passing game is triggered by Murph. “His play is above what we probably would have anticipated at the start of the year,” Muir said.

Red River faces a proven throwing combination when it hosts Fargo Davies in a 4:30 p.m. game today. The 5-0 Eagles are led by twins quarterback Aidan Hartness (39-77, 842 passing) and receiver Tristan Hartness (23-572, 24.9 yards-per-catch average). Both were all-staters as juniors last season.


“They’re pretty good,” Muir said. “They are just two great athletes. And the thing with Davies is that they have some good complimentary pieces to go with those two.”

In other Greater Grand Forks football games this week:

Roseau (1-4)
at EGF Senior High (0-5)

Both teams are looking to break loose on offense when they meet at 6 tonight.

Senior High has scored 39 points this season, most of those in a 40-26 loss to Thief River Falls. Roseau, shut out in its last three games, opened the season with a 21-6 win against Warroad and has scored six points since.

“They don’t throw much,” Senior High coach Ryan Kasowski said. “They give you different looks. But they will run the ball. It’s power football. We’ve been OK defending the run, but it’s a different offense than we’ve seen all year.”

Kasowski hopes to counter with a run-oriented offense behind backs Brady McDonald and Jordan Young.

West Fargo (3-2)
at GF Central (1-4)


Quarterback Kaleb Binstock has been Central’s most productive offensive player, with two 100-yard passing games and a 100-yard rushing game this season. The Knights will be without the senior when they host West Fargo at 7:30 tonight.

Binstock suffered a concussion last Friday against Fargo Davies and isn’t expected to be available. Junior Cody Aarvig will start in his place.

“Kaleb is a dual threat, a runner and a passer,” Central coach Bill Lorenz said. “Cody is a different type of quarterback. We’ll roll him out to pass. He’s more of a shifty, running type of quarterback.”

Stopping the Sam Olsen-led Packers running game is Central’s main concern. “They’re big and physical. They come right at you,” Lorenz said. “And we’ve had some trouble matchup up physically with teams.”

Northern Freeze (1-3)
at Polk Co. West (1-4)

The running is the strength of both teams, who meet at 7 p.m. Saturday. Colby Wagner leads the way for the Freeze. Riley Wavra has rushed for 80 or more yards in four straight games for PCW.

“Riley isn’t flashy,” PCW coach Darrin Byklum said. “He’s a hard worker who sees the field, takes what is there for him and can break tackles.”

Byklum said a strong start is a key for his team. In its four losses, PCW has trailed after the first quarter by scores of 13-0, 15-0, 23-0 and 28-0. “We just haven’t started well,” Byklum said. “And it’s tough trying to dig out of a hole against the tough teams we’ve played so far.


“We’ve played with teams over stretches. We have to put four good quarters together. Than’s been a problem.”




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