MORGAN -- Kade Carrigan is one tough football player.
During his junior season at Morgan High School, he was the team's second-leading rusher with 474 yards and five touchdowns, most of which came while playing in excruciating pain as a result of a fractured hip. In fact, his best game of the year -- a 114-yard, one touchdown effort against Stansbury -- came just two weeks after his initial injury.
There were weeks during the season in which Carrigan could barely walk after games. Eventually, he got a proper diagnosis and ended up missing four games.
"In the first region game against Grantsville, I took a helmet straight to my hip," Carrigan said. "It felt like a really bad side ache, but at halftime it still hurt. After that game, I didn't think much of it and our trainer thought it was maybe just a deep bone bruise, so I kept playing on it. Over time, the growth plate on my hip actually popped off and it fractured it. When I went to the doctor, the doctor said I'd been playing with a hairline fracture for four weeks. It was a rough deal to play on it."
Between his junior and senior seasons, Carrigan worked extremely hard to get healthy and stronger and it definitely paid off, resulting in Carrigan leading the Trojans to the 3-A state semifinals and being named the 2013 Standard-Examiner All-Area most valuable player.
In 12 fully healthy games this season, Carrigan rushed for 1,010 yards and 19 touchdowns on 146 attempts - an average of 6.9 yards per carry. He added 429 yards in pass receptions and six more touchdowns - all team highs. A two-way player who also played linebacker, Carrigan made 33 tackles, including three sacks, while recording a pass deflection, an interception and a fumble recovery.
"Kade isn't the biggest kid, but man he just competes," Morgan coach Kovi Christiansen said of his star running back, who is listed at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds. "There were a number of times where Kade should have been down, but he came out of piles. He's just gritty. He won't allow himself to be taken down by one tackler. He's going to try to power through and find a way to persevere.
"Because of his stature, the kid's busted his butt in the weight room," Christiansen added. "He is a solid kid. He got to where he is by working in the offseason and finely tuning his body to be a good football player."
Carrigan, who hopes to play either football or baseball in college, had six games this year in which he rushed for at least 100 yards, including a season-high 155 yards against Emery on Sep. 20. Twice he rushed for four touchdowns in a game, and on Sep. 27 he had a three-touchdown receiving game against Carbon.
Most teams expected Carrigan to run the ball and often changed their defensive schemes in an attempt to slow him down. But his ability to catch the ball separated him from the average running back.
"He caught some balls he probably shouldn't have," Christiansen said. "(Quarterback) Ben (Saunders) had a lot of trust in him thahe could throw the ball somewhere near him and he'd get it. He's definitely not just one-dimensional. We've got a couple of kids that wanted the ball and Kade, especially, was one of those. He wants the ball on third down and fourth down and we like to have the ball in his hands in those situations, as well as on first and second down. He was kid we could utilize in a lot of different ways. Just an unbelievable tool to have."
Playing football for Morgan involves a lot of discipline, but Carrigan is one who understands the value of effort and commitment.
"We require a lot out of those kids and they get beat up pretty good," Christiansen said. "But that's probably the most rewarding to them as well. When they're done and they're sore, they feel like they've actually accomplished something. They understand what it takes to work hard and play hard and to get knocked down. Hopefully these guys learn that life is exactly that way. If you give up the first time you get knocked down, you're going to have a real long, hard life. Kade is one who understands that hard work and perseverance eventually pays off."
The Trojans finished the season at 9-3, including 4-1 in the 3-A North region, but were disappointed at not getting to the state championship game and a chance at payback against Judge Memorial, which beat the Trojans for the region title. But Carrigan otherwise has no regrets and is grateful for the opportunity he's had to play at Morgan.
"What I've heard from kids moving into Morgan is that there's nothing like it," Carrigan said. "There's nothing as close as we are. We see each other as a family. We would do anything for any of the other players or the coaches and the coaches are the same way. I know I could go to any player or coach on the team for anything and they'd help me out. It's kind of like my second home."