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Heath Hotzler, Published October 08 2009

Montplaisir's improvement pays dividends for improving Shanley football team

Reminders of the Fargo Shanley football program’s historic success surround the current Deacons on a daily basis.

The brand new stadium is named after legendary coach Sid Cichy, who took the team to 16 North Dakota state titles from 1948-77. Members of Cichy’s teams often come around before home games to tell players about the days Shanley was a national power.

Junior quarterback Myles Montplaisir is amazed by all of it.

However, he’s hoping to build a new tradition.

“We talk about it all the time,” said Montplaisir, who leads the

4-2 Deacons into a Class 2A battle against 5-1 Lisbon at 7 p.m. Friday at Sid Cichy Stadium. “When you think about it, winning 16 state championships in 30 years is pretty ridiculous. It’s something to think about.

“But we don’t want to be the old Shanley. We want to become a new Shanley.”

With help from the improved play of Montplaisir, the Deacons are well on their way to making their mark.

After a couple of lean years, Shanley has again become a playoff contender with a move down to Class 2A this season.

The Deacons lost to No. 1 and undefeated Wahpeton 14-7 just days after the death of teammate Nick Bailey in Week 4. The team’s other loss was to Class 3A participant Grand Forks Red River to open the season.

In his second year as the starter, Montplaisir looks like a different player than the guy who piloted last season’s 2-8 team.

He’s bigger, stronger and faster.

“He’s put a lot of time in the offseason into throwing the football, working on his mechanics,” Deacons coach Steve Laqua said. “But he’s really put a lot of work into improving his speed. That probably happens because he was ribbed by his teammates a little for turning a touchdown run into a 30-yard gain.”

Montplaisir isn’t getting caught from behind much anymore, Laqua said.

Montplaisir is also taking more of an interest in the Deacons’ game plan and in finding ways to exploit opponent weaknesses.

Laqua said Montplaisir often comes to the coaching staff with suggestions and plays he thinks will work.

“He wants to know why we’re doing each thing,” Laqua said. “What are we attacking? What’s the reason for it? He’s really taken on that leader role of not just a player, but like another coach.”

Montplaisir said he spent time with the Deacons receivers this summer to perfect timing and work on his mechanics.

He’s thrown for 899 yards and eight touchdowns, and rushed for 306 yards and six scores.

“It feels like it’s more his team now,” junior receiver Josh Rodenbiker said. “This year all of the balls have been accurate. He’s getting the ball to the receivers when they’re open, and he’s running a smooth offense.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562