Wildcats’ Morales tackling leadership role head on

Oct 2 2012 - 7:55pm

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(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner)
Weber State linebacker Anthony Morales (44) tackles Eastern Washington's Jordan Talley (20) at Stewart Stadium in Ogden earlier this season.
Anthony Morales
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner)
Weber State linebacker Anthony Morales (44) tackles Eastern Washington's Jordan Talley (20) at Stewart Stadium in Ogden earlier this season.
Anthony Morales

OGDEN -- Junior linebacker Anthony Morales shaved his beard after Weber State lost its first four games.

That didn't do the trick.

The Wildcats' loss to UC Davis last Saturday dropped them to 0-5, but it will take more than a passing superstition to reverse Weber State's fortunes, Morales knows.

"We've got to stay positive, try to get that first win, forget everything (in the past)," he said. "We've got to play four quarters and execute our technique."

The Wildcats have struggled to get out of the gates and have been outscored 110-12 in first halves this season. Their second-half play is an incremental improvement, but it's been too little, too late for winless Weber State.

The Wildcats have faced two FBS teams and two Top 25 FCS teams in its first five games. and another Top 25 team is coming to town Friday night at 6 p.m. at Stewart Stadium. Cal Poly is undefeated at 4-0 and ranked No. 20 in the most recent poll.

"(The schedule) is tough, but ... that's what you get in (the Big Sky Conference)," Morales said. "There are no weeks off. That's what's great about this conference, the competition."

The league had five teams in the Top 25 last week, though Montana dropped out. Montana State (No. 2), Eastern Washington (7), Northern Arizona (18) and Cal Poly (20) remain.

Morales ranks sixth in the conference in tackles per game (9.5) and his season total of 38 is one behind team leader Tony Epperson despite Morales missing one game due to injury. His 16 tackles against Eastern Washington is the highest single-game total in the Big Sky this season.

Weber State interim coach Jody Sears has focused on building leadership in the team.

Morales, one of four team captains, said he can do better.

"One thing I know for myself I need to work on is being a more consistent leader. When I'm doing good, when the team is doing good, it's easy to be a good leader," he said. "When things get bad, when there are down times, that's when I need to work on being a leader -- not 80, not 60 percent of the time, but 100, whether we're 0-5 or 5-0."

Most of the players on the team have never been in this situation, never played on an 0-5 team, he said, even in high school.

"We actually had a conversation as a unit. We've worked hard this offseason, probably harder than ever before, but we haven't really gotten the rewards yet," Morales said.

He is taking it as a life lesson.

"You can put everything on your plate the right way and still not get everything you want," he said. "A lot of people work hard but get laid off or don't get what they work for, but it's what happens after that that matters."

Despite WSU's record and inability to qualify now for the FCS playoffs, Morales isn't conceding anything.

"We still have a chance to go 6-5 -- 6-5 is night and day from 0-5," he said; it would mean a whole new feeling around the program and the university.

"We've got to keep playing hard, even for next season."

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