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'Survive and advance' has different meaning for Morgan

Josh Morgan had bigger fish to fry in the offseason but had a huge season for the Panthers.
Plymouth State athletics photo 

Framingham State, Endicott and Gallaudet are getting ready for the playoffs. Plymouth State linebacker Josh Morgan is getting ready for his cancer treatments.

Morgan was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in February. He had his thyroid removed in May. And he was a standout on both sides of the ball for the Panthers in September, October and November.

He could have taken the season off. But it was his senior year.

"The first question out of my mouth for my doctor was whether I would still be able to play football or not," Morgan said.

Oh how he played. A couple of weeks ago he was the Panthers' leading rusher and made 11 tackles in the same game. How many players do that anymore? A throwback.

Now, he will adhere to a special diet to get ready for the treatments.

"I'll have the treatments over the holidays," he said.

The Panthers won but two games this season, but Morgan savored those victories. He wishes there could have been more of them, but he would not trade the Plymouth experience for anything. He is appreciative of the support he received from the coaches, players and entire football family.

"They were always calling me and asking me what is happening next," Morgan said.

Now, it's holiday time and cancer treatment. Not most people's idea of the season, but Morgan has a great outlook.

"I am looking at it pretty positively. I'm looking at it as something you have to go through," Morgan said.

He has reason for optimism. The doctors have told him they believe they got all of the cancer when they removed the thyroid.

Plymouth coach Paul Castonia spoke to the team about Morgan's situation and his courage after the season finale against Fitchburg State. He made a conscious effort not to talk about it during the season.

"He came in here as a quarterback and we made him a running back," Castonia said. "We moved him to linebacker two years ago and he made second team all-conference as a junior. He was all over the place. He also plays on special teams.

"He wants to be out there all the time. If we had 22 of him we would win every game."

Castonia said Morgan wants to be on the field all the time. Defense, offense, special teams. He will do whatever it takes to help the team.

"It just shows what kind of a person he is," Castonia said.

"I've just got to kick this thing in the butt," the criminal justice major said.

Opponents who have seen his meddle as a linebacker or running back have no doubt he will do just that.

Bison, Gulls and Rams move on

Endicott and Salve Regina were in a winner-take-all game. The NEFC title was on the line and much of the pregame hype was Salve Regina's stout defense against Endicott's prolific offense.

"I think it would up being the other way around," Endicott coach J.B. Wells said. "Our offense didn't do anything...

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Columnist

Tom Haley

A seven time Vermont sportswriter of the year, Tom Haley has been with the Rutland Herald since 1987. He was inducted into the Castleton State College Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the Contributor to Football Award from the National Football Foundation's Vermont Chapter.

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