Laqua Named NSIC Coach of the Year

BURNSVILLE, Minn. (MSUM Athletics) — Minnesota State University Moorhead head football coach Steve Laqua has been named the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Coach of the Year, the league announced on Thursday.

It is the first time in Laqua's career he has received the honor. He is the first Dragon football coach to earn the honor since 1994 when Ralph Micheli won the award. Since 2015 MSUM has had coaches of the year in men's basketball (Chad Walthall, 2015), women's basketball (Karla Nelson, 2017) and now football. MSUM is one of only three league schools to have Coaches of the Year in those sports during that time.

MSUM sophomores Jake Richter (wide receiver) and Darius Woods-Steichen (defensive line) were named All-NSIC North Division First Team selections. Senior linebacker Michael Strand, senior offensive lineman Andrew Erickson, senior safety Aaron Doan, junior offensive lineman Nathan Belisle, sophomore receiver Grady Bresnahan and sophomore running back Zach Simons were named to the All-NSIC North Division Second Team selections.

All-NSIC North honorable mention selections were junior cornerback Deiondre Taylor and defensive lineman Matthew Domek.

Laqua guided the Dragons to an 8-3 mark in 2018, the most wins in a season for MSUM since 1991. He led the team to its best finish in the NSIC (tied for third) since the league expanded to 16 teams in 2012. Laqua, now in his eighth year as MSUM head coach, has led the Dragons to 20 win over the past three years, their best three-year stretch since 1991-93.

Richter had a big season for the Dragons, catching 64 passes for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was second in the NSIC at 95.6 yards receiving per game and fourth in receptions per game at 5.82. He had four 100-yard receiving games, including a career-high 234 yards at Bemidji State. Richter was third overall in receiving yards in the league. It is his first All-NSIC honor.

Woods-Steichen also picked up his first All-NSIC honor after recording a team-best 8.5 sacks this season. He had at least a half-sack in seven games this season and had two games with two sacks (vs. Minnesota Crookston and UMary). He also had two forced fumbles and 26 tackles.

Strand picked up the third All-NSIC North second team honors of his career. He had 78 tackles, including 10.5 for loss. He had 40 solo stops. Strand also had two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He had a season-high 10 tackles three times during the season.

Erickson earned the All-NSIC North honors for a second straight year. He started all 11 games this season at right tackle and has played all 44 games the past four seasons.