Murray’s football team isn’t exactly used to having success on the field, but 2014 was the start of something different. After several unsuccessful years, the Spartans finally made a playoff appearance which is something they hope they can build into more success in the coming years.
“Things went very well for us this year,” head coach Mike Richmond said. “Coming into the season… we had a kind of cautious optimism that we had a good football team, but you never really know until the ball gets kicked off.”
The Spartans ended their regular season 6-3 and tied for second place in their region.
“We made the playoffs, which I think it’s been 10 to12 years since Murray has made the play-offs,” Richmond said. “All things considered, we had a very successful year, especially considering the challenges the program has had the last few years.”
Murray’s road to the playoffs was tough, but they dug deep and found a way to get themselves there. “The team we were tied with beat us head to head (that was Skyline). We were given a three seed in our region which meant we had to go on the road,” Richmond said. “We went up to play Sky View and lost in the first round. The final ended up being 42-14. We lost on the road, but looking back, all things considered we are very satisfied with our season this year.”
Part of the Spartans’ success was inspired by a teammate’s personal tragedy which helped put things into perspective for the team.
“[Junior] Devon Ross came out and joined us late last spring [for his first year of football],” Richmond said. “Great kid, great family and shortly after working out with us, his little brother [Carson] was diagnosed with a brain tumor and has just had a tremendous fight on his hands going through chemo and radiation. It’s been something that really brought our team together.”
Murray’s football team participated in a 5K run to help raise funds for Carson’s treatment as well as shaving their heads after Carson lost all of his hair through his radiation treatments.
“There’s funny life lessons you learn through football, but I think this really gave our team an opportunity to pause and take a look at how precious life is and how quickly things can change,” Richmond said. “Those days at practice where things are tough and maybe they’ve had a bad day, maybe they’re at school and aren’t feeling well and now they have to go to practice, I think a lot of kids on the team said, ‘Hey guys, we aren’t going through anything.’”
Those life lessons learned this past season will only help Murray players as they strive to grow and progress. Richmond feels his team has the ability to take the next steps but says it’s contingent on how hard they are willing to work for it.
“It’s going to take a tremendous amount of hard work,” he said. “We really attribute a lot of our success to our graduating senior class. They made a commitment several years ago that they were going to make a difference at Murray High School. They were going to be the graduating class that would be the group that turned our program around. Yes, we can use this as a building block. We have a lot of people that are going to have to make a commitment in the offseason and put in the work in order for us to continue to have that success.”