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By Jake Hull
Whitman County Gazette 

Colfax Football head coach retires after 32 years

Morgan helped lead 13 teams to playoffs, holds 172-95 record as coach

 

November 30, 2023

Courtesy of Colfax School District

Long-time Colfax High School Football Coach Mike Morgan.

COLFAX - After 32 years of being on football sidelines, including 26 years as a head coach, Colfax football coach Mike Morgan is letting go of the Bulldog's leash.

Morgan spent the last 26 years as the head football coach for the Bulldogs, with a record of 172-95 in his head coaching career, including a state championship title in 2001.

"When you coach 26 years they're all memorable," said Morgan.

Doug Curtis was the head coach of the Colfax football team before Morgan.

Morgan started at Colfax in the fall of 1992 as an assistant.

Morgan said that when he took over, the 1998 team were young freshman, who would go on to win the state title as seniors.

"I took over when they were freshman, we went 1-8 over the season. By the time they were sophomores, juniors, they were playing for me... "None of the kids on my first team had ever started a varsity football game before. Our only win that year was Springdale," said Morgan.

The 2001 team was special for Colfax on-and-off the field, they grew together through success, failures, and uncontrollable disasters in the world.

"We went through 9/11 together. I remember talking to them on the practice field saying our lives will change forever," said Morgan.

Morgan and the 2001 football team would win the state championship by 40 points.

Besides the state championship, Morgan coached back-to-back second place finishes in 2009-10, and finished third in 2000, 2008, and 2011.

Morgan made the playoffs with 13 different teams, and six years coached a team that won academic state championship, including this past season.

"I owe a lot to the Colfax community and parents for all of their support over the years and for them producing such wonderful young men to work with," he said.

Morgan mentioned that he hears from his former players all the time, and can not remember how many weddings he has been invited to over the years.

In the last season under Morgan, the team finished 2-8 on the season.

When asked how he has changed as a coach over the years, Morgan said he is much calmer than he was when he started.

"The last few years I've been calm, there's better ways to do it than the huffing and puffing," said Morgan.

For his decision to retire from football, Morgan said "It's time for some new blood to run this program and for the coaching staff to chase grandchildren around. I will still be at the ballgames running the pep band so I will be cheering on the Bulldogs from the bleachers."

Seth Lustig, quarterback for the Bulldogs during Morgan's final head coaching season, talked about their 2023 season, and how much Morgan means to the Colfax community.

"We're all gonna miss him, but I'm happy for him because he could spend more time with his family now. He's like a dad figure for all of us," said Lustig.

Another member of the 2023 football team was JP Wigen, who talked about his relationship with Morgan, as well as Morgan coaching Wigens' father.

"He taught us about life and was a great role model for each and every one of us, and Igot to share the experience of him coaching with my dad as well when he was in high school," said Wigen.

John Largent finished his second season with Morgan as his head coach in 2023, he would break his leg this season, but John's father, Whitman County Commissioner Michael Largent, could not be more thankful for Morgan.

"Watching your son go through the experience of breaking his leg at an away game without his parents four hours away was a demonstration of what coach Morgan developed...Very heartwarming to bring him to the hospital in Colfax and have the coaching staff and players at his lowest point of the season support him, it was more than touching," said Largent.

Jacob Brown played for Colfax during the COVID-19 seasons, and was a member of the last playoff team for Colfax.

"He always had a great game plan before games and could see things I never did on the field. Not only did he coach boys to be football players but also taught them how to be men," said Brown.

Brown is currently playing football at the College of Idaho.

Scott Parrish, Colfax Baseball Head Coach, played for Morgan during the 1998 season, the first head coaching year for Morgan.

"Replacing Coach Doug Curtis, who has a similar resume, had been here for a very long time, had a ton of success and also had a distinct style of play that kind of defined Colfax football for many years. Throw in the fact that we played in the State Title game in 1997, finished 2nd in state with a 12-1 record and lost all 22 starters from that team, made the job come with a level of uncertainty moving into that season. For that, I'll always commend him for taking the reins when we needed it most," said Parrish.

Parrish also said that he will be missed on the sidelines representing Colfax football and ensuring the program represents the community at a high level.

Jeff Pittman, Colfax Body Repair owner, was with Morgan as a player in 1998 during Morgan's first official season as head coach. Pittman played four years, including winning the state championship in 2001.

"He came in and set the tone that things would be run his way... Definitely ran a tight ship," Pittman said.

Pittman also said that Morgan was about the team, not individuals.

"He taught us a lot more than how to play football. He taught us to be good people whether it was football, in school or the community," said Pittman.

Pittman said the only expectation of the team his senior season was to win state, which they did.

"I'm glad that I got to experience him being my coach. I'm thankful for everything that he taught me about football and life. I'm appreciative for everything he taught me," said Pittman.

Tyler McNannay played for four years under Morgan, graduating in 2011. He had a lot to say about Morgan's character and heart.

"I thought Mike was a great person, great coach. He was a staple in the community, all about the community," McNannay said.

McNannay shared a story about the sense of humor of Morgan. McNannay described how at the time, the Colfax quarterback was not showing up to watch film, so he and the team convinced the quarterback that Morgan would be at the next film session. The quarterback was one of the first people in the film room the next day. McNannay also said a memory of Morgan as a coach was that he would always make him run because he refused to cut his hair.

"I just wish him well and thank him for all he did for the guys on our team and for Colfax. It takes a lot of commitment for every hat that he wore," said McNannay.

Dr. Brady Ellis, dentist at Whitman Family Dental, played for Morgan from 2009-2012. He shared his thoughts on Morgan as a coach, as well as his retirement.

"I love Coach Morgan. He always pushed us to be the best we could be. Always willing to work hard in the film room with the other coaches," said Ellis.

Ellis, like so many others in the Colfax community, could not fully describe the impression Morgan has left on the community. Ellis said that Morgan is the type of person that you can come to outside of practice and have a great conversation with.

"He was always warm and welcoming, always good to me and my brothers," Ellis said.

Ellis finished by saying that he always hoped Morgan would still be coaching when his boys were in high school playing football, but is really happy for the hard work he put into the program, and "We hold a place in our heart for Mike."

 

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