There is a new man in charge of the Minnesota State University, Moorhead football program. Steve Laqua was introduced Jan. 28 as the 17th head coach in program's 92-year history. He spent the previous four years as head coach at Fargo Shanley High School, where he led the Deacons to consecutive state titles in 2009-10.
Laqua's introduction to the college coaching ranks will offer a much stiffer challenge. The Dragons are just 6-27 since 2008. It's a task that requires a special kind of enthusiasm, something Laqua carries in great supply.
Q. We were here this winter and you were very fired up about the job. What’s the process been like the last couple of months? Are you still fired up?
A. It's been a whirlwind. I kind of feel like a lot of days you get thrown in a washing machine and spun around and you get thrown out at the end of the day. But it’s fun making order out of the chaos, and I think we’ve made a lot of progress so far.
Q. Is enthusiasm a big part of it?
A. Any time you have energy from coaches, that just rubs off to players. And I think it’s felt within the Dragon community, and I think the players are excited to take on the next season.
Q. There were some wide gaps in some of those games last year. Do you look at it like you’re going to win those games this year, close the gap, or what’s the philosophy?
A. Any successful team doesn’t necessarily have their focus on the scoreboard. You’ve got to focus on the things you need to do, and then the scoreboard takes care of itself. We’ve got to take care of the little things as far as taking care of the football on offense, being able to establish a run game, which we’ve struggled with in the past. On the flip side, we’ve got to stop the run and we’ve got to be able to get takeaways.
Q. Your job is not just a football coach, but also going out to the community and getting it involved. How do you go about doing that?
A. It’s been really good to get the local coaches on our side. Coming from the high school ranks, I’ve known a lot of them, and our staff is built of a lot of local guys. And to be able to have those area coaches behind us, I think that creates an enthusiasm with the local players to come watch and the fans. So us adding in this recruiting class and local players certainly will increase that fan base and the excitement.
Q. How good has the NSIC gotten in football?
A. I think it’s one of the premier, if not the premier league in the nation. When your national champion comes out of it and you’ve got teams that are taking them down to the wire, just to get out of the league to get to the finals, you know that you’ve got a high bar. And I think that’s the great thing about being in this league. You know where the bar is. You’re not going to get to the playoffs and be surprised. You know what it’s going to take to win a championship.
We'll get an early look at the progress that coach Laqua and company have made when they play host to perennial NSIC contender Winona State on Sept. 10. The Warriors buried the Dragons 58-3 in Winona, Minn. last season.
- Sept. 10: Winona St. vs. MSU, Moorhead, 12 p.m.
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