BOX ELDER — The Box Elder Bears practiced with heavy hearts on Monday.
Before they hit the field, the team attended the funeral of 15-year-old Reece Morsette – a friend and classmate who passed away last week after suffering a seizure while playing basketball.
Several of the Bears served as pallbearers Monday morning before strapping on the cleats and running drills. Football served as their escape.
“Just having everyone together really helps out,” said head coach Neal Morsette Jr. “Each and every one of these guys were close to the young gentleman but getting back out here makes us all fell a lot better.”
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Senior tight end Pernell Morsette was a member of Reece’s extended family. The loss hit him hard, but he’s taking it upon himself to lead his team through this stretch of adversity.
“He was like a brother to me,” said Pernell. “But I’m just trying to be the best leader I can for everyone with everything that’s going on right now.”
And the Bears need leadership now, more than ever. Gone are the stars of last year’s state title team. Brandon the Boy (Rocky) and Jerrod Four Colors (MSU-Northern) are off playing college hoops – Shane Ketchum is starting his first year of cross country at Rocky Mountain College.
It’s up to seniors like Morsette & running back Lane Caplette to set the example for younger Bears. The success of the 2015 team led to an uptick in participation. A record twenty players came out for fall camp which left a surprised head coach needing to order more equipment.
“Last year is what brought out the great numbers this year which is what we strive for,” he said. “We want these kids our here doing something. Being part of a team, staying active. If we can end (the season) with 20 guys that’s the ultimate goal. We’re excited for it.”
Excitement is a theme around this team. Last year, the Bears featured one of the most explosive offenses in the 6-man ranks, perhaps only surpassed in energy by their state championship basketball team later that winter. They pulled off a thrilling 42-40 semi-final victory on the road at Hot Springs to advance to the 6-man title game. This year’s week one opponent? Those same Savage Heat making the trip to “Box City”.
“They’re coming here and it should be a good home opener,” said Rosette. “The fans will come out and bunches and I think the boys are going to come out excited and fired up.”
No matter the outcome on Saturday, the Bears will feel like they’ve lost something. But the team believes the best way to honor the memory of their friend is to compete with all their hearts.
“Win or lose – they’re going to honor him by coming out,” said Rosette.
The Bears face Hot Springs on Saturday, Aug. 27th. Kickoff is slated for 1p.m.