By Christopher Tenpenny
Morgan Selemaea was looking forward to a big senior season for the Pittsburg State Gorilla football team, Pittsburgh, Kansas.
The former Harrisonville Wildcat football star is one of the premier defensive players in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA), coming off three consecutive seasons on the All-MIAA team and an NCAA Division II All American selection in 2018.
Then football looked like it was going to be put on hold as the country continued to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. First it was announced there would be no National Championship game. Then the MIAA announced it would start a couple of weeks late before putting the season on hold completely. Finally schools were able to schedule games as long as the teams followed strict protocols. Pittsburg State was the first team in the MIAA to schedule a game.
The constant schedule changes and uncertainty of the season put a lot of stress on the teams.
“It was unlike anything I’ve been a part of,” Selemaea said. “We try to have no setbacks, but between testing every day and hoping other teams stay healthy, it was difficult.”
The Gorillas were able to schedule five games, but only played in four. Their first game wasn’t until Halloween, nearly two months after their normal start time. They went 2-2.
Selemaea didn’t miss a beat from his normal self as he ended the season tied for the team lead in tackles with 30. He had seven or eight tackles in every game and was consistent for the Gorillas during the short season. He credits Pittsburg State’s new head coach Brian Wright and his staff for his continued success this season.
“This coaching staff has really pushed me,” Selemaea said. “They never let me settle and continue to make me the best player I can be. It’s pretty exciting.”
While it could’ve been a tough way to end a senior season, the NCAA came out and said no players would be credited for a year of eligibility in 2020. Selemaea is coming back for his senior season, again.
“Not everyone is going to be able to come back next season because of life reasons,” Selemaea said. “I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can return next year. We have a lot of talent on this team and I’m excited to push for a national championship.”
Selemaea had set goals for the 2020 season, but most of them have been pushed back for the 2021 season.
“No. 1 goal is always to go out there and have fun. You never know when your last football game will be,” Selemaea said. “Goal two is to get this team to the playoffs. Individually, I want to be named an All-American and potentially get a camp invite at the next level.”
Having the extra year with a new coaching staff could allow Selemaea to grow even more as player. His hope is to be invited to an NFL summer camp when his colleges days are over, but for now, there’s another season to prepare for.