Malta has high expectations in 2020 after returning a handful of starters from a Class B football playoff berth in 2019.
Back are all-conference selections quarterback Kooper Oxarart and running back Rex Williamson, but it's the Mortenson brothers that are the engine that powers the Mustangs' football team. The physically imposing seniors play in the trenches on both sides of the ball, but delivering the blows ahead of Williamson and his running mates is a little more enjoyable.
“It’s really fun, especially pulling around and hitting the (linebackers) or hitting the end. I like lead blocking for them, it’s a good time,” said Parker Mortenson.
“It’s just a lot of fun, especially lead blocking. You get to get out there as fast you can and knock someone. You just try to hit them as hard as you can and try to get them out of the way, I guess," Pierce Mortenson said.
Parker and Pierce Mortenson have been competitive since birth, whether that be hunting, roping, or racing their dirt bikes against one another. That competitiveness has bled onto the football field and is rubbing off on their teammates.
“Always is, always has been. In the weight room especially. Parker used to have a bigger bench than me, but he pushed me and pushed me," Pierce Mortenson said. "We’re pretty good now. We used to put in a lot of dogfights out on the practice field, too. It’s just a lot of fun.”
"At times we’ll line them across from each other in practice just so we have a good guy to go against, and they’re super competitive," Malta head coach Nick Oxarart said. "It doesn’t come to blows but it almost comes to blows, and that’s what you need, is competition in practice. Those two bring it every day. Good to have.”
Playing up front, neither brother is accustomed to having the ball in their hands. Pierce recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown this past weekend in Malta's 50-6 win over Roundup and admittedly froze a little.
“The ball just ended up in my hands. Kind of had to look at it, think about what to do. Just weird,” Pierce Mortenson said.
But if Oxarart has it his way, the Mortenson brothers will be paving lanes for stud running backs Williamson and Cash Salsbery.
“(Williamson is) pretty strong and has pretty good speed, same with (Salsbery). He’s got that strength and he’s hard to bring down. That’s what we kind of plan on doing, is trying to wear down a team by the end of the third, fourth quarter, just wear on guys to where they’re sick of seeing those two coming at them," Oxarart said. "We like to run behind those big guys. It doesn’t happen all that often, so we’ve got to take advantage when we do have those guys up front.”
“It really just starts with all the linemen. We’ve just got to be locked in together. It’s a special brotherhood," Parker Mortenson said.
The Mustangs take on Conrad this Friday night in search of a 2-0 start.