Leave them wanting Moerkerke: Senior brings multidimensional talent to Dickinson State football squad
Of the four touchdown passes in Dickinson State's 51-0 win over the University of Jamestown on Saturday, Sept. 1, one stood out.
With three minutes and 42 seconds remaining in the third quarter, junior quarterback Hayden Gibson hurled the ball into a high arc. It spiraled 24 yards against the wind before dropping into the waiting hands of senior receiver Seth Moerkerke.
"When the play started, I had a feeling he was going to throw it my way. He kind of looked a little longer than he normally does. I can kind of sense when he's going to throw it," Moerkerke said. "The (defensive back) kind of backed up to the middle of the field, the corner did, so I tried to run at him, stem him a little bit then break outside. The ball actually looked like it was coming more towards the middle then it ended up drifting to me."
While he fits in flawlessly with the other targets, Moerkerke has seen more time on the other side of the exchange, as quarterback. In high school, he was primarily a quarterback, but when his family moved from Montana to Gillette, Wyoming ahead of his junior year, Moerkerke stumbled upon a stolid starter, so he saw time at both QB and receiver. Nevertheless, he was recruited by Dickinson State as a quarterback.
His freshman year, Moerkerke started a handful of games when then-starter Kaler Ray broke his collarbone. In 2016, with Gibson and Ray vying for the top spot, Moerkerke became the No. 3 guy, which began his transition to receiver, where he's played ever since.
"I think coming from quarterback to receiver was a blessing," he said. "I'm used to what a quarterback sees and how he wants the field to look and how he sees it. That helped me out. The challenges were probably the stance. I didn't know how to do a stance really."
The touchdown was Moerkerke's only reception so far this season, but in 2017, he caught five passes for 98 yards and a touchdown.
"A couple years ago we asked him to make that move because he's a guy that in high school played a couple positions as well, a good all-around athlete," head coach Pete Stanton said. "We thought by doing that, we gave him the best possible chance to help us on the field."
Since moving over to a new slot on the field, one thing hasn't changed, as the 6-foot-4, 210-pound redhead still punts for his team. He started his first year at DSU as quarterback, as the team didn't have a punter. Over his three full years and the sole game this season, Moerkerke has 117 career punts for 4,181 yards. On Saturday, his five punts averaged 34 yards, just shy of his 35.7 yard career average.
"The key to a good punt is being consistent every single time," Moerkerke said. "Catching the ball in the same spot, dropping the ball in the same spot, hitting it with the same part of your foot. I've learned a lot from (junior kicker) Cody Johnson."
Of all his skills, Stanton said his guidance and encouragement as a captain is an obvious strength.
"(He has) tremendous leadership skills. Obviously, the guys elected him captain. He's a guy that does things we want to be done on the field, off the field," Stanton said. "He's done a great job in the classroom, great job in the leadership activities on campus. He's worked with our alumni foundation. He's a very personable person and a guy. ... His ability to lead people, and inspire people is a great strength of his."
His vocal leadership, combined with his degree in Communications, will soon lead Moerkerke to his next challenge in life: becoming a pastor.
"I used to want to be a teacher. I still have that dream, but my goal is to be a pastor when I graduate," Moerkerke said while donning cleats with bible verses on them.
Every week last season he added a different verse in Sharpie. This year, he is leaning towards simply having one, but said that could change.
Whether in the receiving corps, or the team as a whole, Moerkerke is a face to look to as he begins his fifth year on campus and fourth in a blue and white uniform.
"I think I've led in the past with just my character and my play and the way I hold myself on and off the field," he said. "But I want to be more vocal with that and lead these guys and get them ready for the game. Tell them what we need to do and point out specific things that we need to do fix. ... I know what a winning team is. We won a conference championship the past three years, so I know what it takes."