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Eric Peterson, Published January 19 2011

Fargo Shanley coach sells local ties regarding MSUM football job

Steve Laqua believes he has one quality that gives him an edge in his quest to become the next Minnesota State Moorhead football coach: He knows the area.

“I’m a local guy who grew up in this area. I was a Division II football player,” said Laqua, who is the head coach at Fargo Shanley. “I have a dog in this fight. I want to see this program be successful for other guys that were me 15 years ago.”

Laqua, 32, was on campus Tuesday, the first of four finalists to interview for the position. Laqua also took questions from media and the general public in an open forum at Alex Nemzek Hall.

“I like his passion and his excitement because it is definitely going to take a lot of energy to turn this thing around,” MSUM athletic director Doug Peters said. “The fact he is known and trusted within the region helps.”

Laqua – from Cavalier, N.D. – played quarterback and linebacker at North Dakota State (which was in Division II at the time) from 1997-2000. He started his coaching career at NDSU in 2002 as a graduate assistant.

Laqua spent the past four seasons at the head coach at Shanley, leading the Deacons to back-to-back North Dakota Class 2A state championships.

Prior to that, he was an assistant coach at NDSU (2005-07) in his second stint with the school. He was an offensive coordinator at Minnesota-Crookston and an assistant coach at St. Olaf College.

“He’s recruited locally for Minnesota-Crookston, St. Olaf and North Dakota State and that is important,” Peters said.

During his forum, Laqua said he would focus on getting more kids locally involved with the program.

He feels his local ties and coaching on the high school level the last four years will help him execute that philosophy.

“It’s critical that in our recruiting efforts we win this 150-mile recruiting radius,” Laqua said.

Laqua said re-connecting with the alumni is also important when it comes to increasing funding for the program. MSUM offers around 9½ scholarships and Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference limit will be at 27 next fall.

“I think it’s important that we put the processes in place to raise those scholarships,” Laqua said. “While that’s getting done, we can’t take the, ‘Woe is me,’ attitude and say we can’t do anything about it. We need to sell players on the coaching staff on the program and get them to buy into us as people regardless of the scholarship situation.”

Laqua said he would run an offense that emphasizes establishing the running game, but would be flexible to fit the skills of current players. On defense, he would favor running a “Tampa 2” style defense, much like NDSU runs.

“I’m a firm believer in it and I think it’s a great resource having NDSU across the way to be able to continue to stay on the cutting edges in the changes in that scheme,” Laqua said. “I would lean toward that as long as it fits our players.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com