From the backyard to under the bright lights, Moorhead senior quarterback Trey Feeney has hit one of the Walthall brothers in stride time and time again over their lives.
That’s why it was only fitting that Feeney found one of his best friends on a beautifully placed ball for the final touchdown of his standout career. On a 4th-and-25, Blake Walthall got a step on the defense up the middle of the field. He reached high to tip the ball with one hand before hauling it in and going 49 yards for the score in the fourth quarter. It put the finishing touches on a dominant 63-7 win for the Spuds over Alexandria that wrapped up a perfect 7-0 season.
“I’ve grown up playing basketball, baseball and football with those two,” Feeney said of the Walthall twin brothers. “They just have a crazy natural talent for the game. It’s a chemistry you can’t teach or coach. It’s just natural. I loved having them.”
Feeney said there was no disappointment heading into this game knowing the pandemic was about to cut their season short with high school sports being put on a four-week pause at 11:59 p.m. Friday. He focused on the positives of getting to play one last game with his high school teammates before going to the University of North Dakota to play next fall.
Feeney didn’t waste his final night in a Spuds uniform. He had a hand in all nine Moorhead touchdowns, with seven throwing scores and two rushing. He completed 27-of-38 passes for 372 yards. His favorite target was Blake Walthall, who finished with 11 catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns.
“Whether it was summer workouts or whatever it was, this was a together team,” Feeney said. “I haven’t been a part of a team like this where you know the guy to your left and the guy to your right is going to do their job. That makes your job easier. It started in the summer, and we knew it was going to be a special year. We just needed to go out there and execute.”
Moorhead scored on its very first offensive play when Feeney found Brady Walthall on a 30-yard strike. The Spuds scored touchdowns on their first six possessions before time ran out in the first half. It led to a 42-7 lead at the break.
“They’re a very good football team,” Alexandria head coach Mike Empting said. “You look at them, and it’s tough to find a weakness. I feel like we had a great game plan on both sides of the ball, but they got dudes, man. They’re a really good club. No doubt about it.”
Moorhead put up gaudy numbers all season long. The Spuds held opposing teams to just 5.4 points-per game defensively. Alexandria’s only touchdown on Friday came on a trick play where Zach Gundberg caught a pass from Aaron Stotesbery behind the line of scrimmage and then threw to a wide open Will Heydt for a 52-yard score in the first quarter.
Offensively, the Spuds were almost unstoppable all year. They averaged 44.7 points a game, led by Feeney’s 1,973 yards, 38 total touchdowns (36 passing, 2 rushing) and just one interception. Brady Walthall had 55 catches for 799 yards and 14 touchdowns in the seven wins, and Blake Walthall grabbed 37 catches for 582 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“Not like that. Not with the way they throw the ball,” Empting said when asked if he has coached against a team with the offensive efficiency of this year’s Moorhead team. “Trey is a really smart quarterback. He has receivers who are very good athletes who are very good route runners. They’ve got nice route combinations, and they put defenses and individuals in quandaries out there in space. It’s almost like they’re just reading where it’s, ‘OK, if he goes there, we’re going to do this.’ Then they’ve obviously played together for a long time.”
There were tears shed by both teams after the final whistle blew on this game. Moorhead was left wishing it had a chance to compete for a state championship.
“I definitely think we could have competed for a state title,” Feeney said. “It would have been really cool to play in U.S. Bank (Stadium) for it, but this is really special too. It’s going to last a lifetime.”
The Cardinals were left looking back on a season filled with memories too.
This wasn’t the ending Alexandria wanted, but this group did what it had to do off the field to get in every game on its schedule this season during a year plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Cardinals finished 4-4 with some big games along the way. Their wins came in dominant fashion after a couple of 49-14 finals against St. Francis and Brainerd around 50-0 and 42-0 wins over St. Cloud Apollo.
Empting lauded the way his seniors guided Alexandria through the season and how younger players followed their lead during a year with so much uncertainty.
“I hope they remember how they came together as a team,” Empting said. “I hope they remember everything they had to go through to even have a season and the way they needed to come together on and off the field. They needed to sacrifice things for each other off the field. I hope that’s something they take with them, that selflessness and giving of themselves for the good of the team so we could keep playing.”
(Eric Peterson of the Forum News Service contributed to this story)
Alexandria 7 0 0 0— 7
Moorhead 21 21 14 7—63
SCORING - MHS—Brady Walthall 30 pass from T. Feeney (Allawi kick)
MHS—Fitzpatrick 7 pass from T. Feeney (Allawi kick)
A— Will Heydt 52 pass from Zach Gundberg (Myles Sansted kick)
MHS—Blake Walthall 7 pass from T. Feeney (Allawi kick)
MHS—T. Feeney 2 run (Allawi kick)
MHS—T. Feeney 20 run (Allawi kick)
MHS—Brady Walthall 5 pass from T. Feeney (E. Feeney kick)
MHS—Nyanforh 65 pass from T. Feeney (Allawi kick)
MHS—Kainz 6 pass from T. Feeney (Allawi kick)
MHS—Blake Walthall 49 pass from T. Feeney (Allawi kick)