2012 record: 6-3
By PATRICK SLACK
Heading into last fall, Royalton had a lot of spots to fill, and not many veterans to fill them.
One of those holes was at quarterback and, looking for a dynamic playmaker who could also operate the team’s read-option offense, head coach Jamie Morford turned to then-sophomore Brady Moulzolf.
“Last year, we went into our first game and he had saucers, he was wide-eyed and ‘Oh my goodness, what am I getting myself into?’ By game four, he was ready to take charge,” Morford said.
Moulzolf was asked to pass some, throwing for 492 yards and four touchdowns for the 6-3 Royals. But his greatest asset, one this year’s team hopes to capitalize on even more, is making the proper reads so that he or senior running backs Tony Gadacz and Cade Stang can run with the ball in space.
“I think if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Morford said. “We were 6-3 last year. I don’t want to try and reinvent the wheel here. Let’s just let (Moulzolf) grow into this position. We might throw the ball a little bit more, but again it’s about letting Brady do what he does best and he’s a good runner, so we’ll allow him to run the ball too.”
But while being able to take occasional shots downfield through the air is nice, being able to break down defenses on the ground with the option is a far more essential trait at quarterback in Royalton’s system.
“Most definitely,” Morford said. “He’s very good at it. We teach it a pretty simplistic way, but he really has it and he understands what we have to do and what we need to do to get there. He’s really starting to grasp the offense … growing into a much more veteran leader than maybe a wide-eyed sophomore.”
Defensively, Stang and Moulzolf will line up in the secondary and Gadacz will start at linebacker.
The Royals will also bring back starting seniors Jesse Popp (wide receiver/defensive back), Caleb Jasmer (offensive/defensive line) and Austin Schmitt (offensive/defensive line) and juniors Jake Wentland (tight end/defensive line) and Kyle Billmeyer (running back/linebacker).
Senior Nate Scofield (wide receiver/defensive back) and juniors Jordon Smieja (offensive line/linebacker), Matt Fountain (offensive/defensive line) and Austin Popp (running back/linebacker) are expected to play more significant roles as well.
“We were very young last year and we hope to see that pay off this year,” Morford said. “We lost some key players … but we had some younger guys get some significant playing time in those positions.”
Morford expects the Prairie Conference to once again be very challenging for Royalton.
Traditional rival Upsala-Swanville Area is back on the schedule, with the Morrison County Milk Jug traveling trophy being introduced, Oct. 17.
“We are very excited to have them back on the schedule,” Morford said. “It’ll be a fun rivalry, not an intense, mean rivalry. It’s a really good rivalry and we’re excited to get to play them again finally.
“I’m not making any predictions, but what I am going to say is that we’re going to go out every night and compete,” he said. “That’s our goal, to go out every night and try to get a ‘W’ on the board. You can’t overlook anyone in this conference at all. So we have to take it one step at the time.”
Royalton opens the season at Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, Thursday.