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Voyageur's Best Sports of 2004

Anthony Pierce

Racing to the record book
 
Anthony Pierce completed a record setting season
 
by John Grones  | November 23, 2004
 

There have been several great running backs in McGregor football history, Clint Zimpel, Zac Brown, Rob Reed, Joe Larson, to name a few. Now there is another name to add to the list, Anthony Pierce.

Anthony is now the all-time leading rusher for yards in a season. He set the record by chewing up 1,531 yards on 257 carries for an average of 6.0 yards per carry. According to his coach, Bob Staska, Anthony’s big play capability was very important to the team. “When Anthony was able to get through the line, he was fun to watch,” said coach Staska. “He has great cut-back ability and he sees things that you just can’t teach.”

Bob was also impressed with Anthony’s durability. “Anthony was getting the ball 20 to 25 times a game early in the season,” he said. “Later, he was carrying the ball 30 times.”

“When Caleb (Sorensen) went out with an injury in the Isle game, I ran the ball 43 times,” Anthony recalled. “I could feel it after that game.”

In addition to setting the single season rushing record at McGregor, he also set a new single season touchdown record of 20. The previous mark was held by Zac Brown (2001) and Clint Zimpel (1995) with 16 each. Anthony scored a total of 130 points. In addition to the 20 touchdowns, he kicked four extra points and converted three 2-point conversions.

Anthony felt the reason he was getting these records was the play of his line. “Without them it wasn’t possible,” he said. “I would look upfield and see them five to 10 yards down-field and still blocking.”

Two of those linemen have been with Anthony since seventh grade, Brock Hayes and Erik VanGuilder. “Brock is a great player,” commented Anthony. “Doing what he did after his leg injury was outstanding.”

Two year starter, Erik VanGuilder was also a force on the line. His development as a player is probably a story in itself. According to Anthony, Erik made remarkable improvement from his 9th grade year to 10th grade. “Erik got in the weight-room and changed his ability,” concluded Anthony.

Anthony also commented on another significant senior, quarterback Michaa Aubid. Michaa and Anthony worked together as a quarterback/running back combination in 7th and 8th grade. They would get the chance to do it again as seniors. “Me and Michaa really click,” he said. “We always know what the other is doing. One of his biggest strengths was how he carried out fakes. We were looking at the tapes after games and we realized he would fake out up to five guys.”

Anthony also added that Michaa learned his fakes from watching Peyton Manning, an NFL quarterback who plays for the Indianapolis Colts. Peyton Manning is also Anthony’s favorite NFL player. If he had to choose a running back it would be Priest Holmes who plays for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Two high school players that Anthony enjoyed watching were McGregor Mercury running backs Zac Brown (2001) and Ron Wyttenback (1998). “They both impressed me with their open field speed.”

Overall, McGregor got off to a good start competing in a 9-man conference and Anthony felt the team was much more competitive. The team started the season with a 4-2 record, but hit the skids after a home loss to Nevis on Oct. 15. “We didn’t play that bad and lost by two,” said coach Staska. “One of our biggest problems was creating turnovers. We only forced two in the final three games.”

Next year, they will be in the Great Northern South with AlBrook, Cromwell, Wrenshall, Isle, Floodwood and Cotton. Bob is encouraged by his first year. He realizes that he had to spend a lot of time working on the Xs and Os of 9-man football. Next year, he plans on having more time to work on technique.

One thing is for sure, McGregor will have some big shoes to fill. In addition to losing Anthony, the team loses a very good quarterback in Michaa Aubid and two outstanding linemen, Brock Hayes and Erik VanGuilder.

This article first appeared in the November 23, 2004 issue of the Voyageur Press.