Rudder vs. Elgin football

Rudder defensive lineman Desmond Murphy tackles Elgin quarterback Daniel Gonzales in the second quarter Friday at Merrill Green Stadium. Rudder overcame a two-touchdown deficit to beat Elgin 43-42 and grab its first win under coach Eric Ezar.

You can read more about the matchup here.

Desmond Murphy is a senior defensive end and tackle for the Rudder Rangers, currently leading the team in total tackles, tackles for loss and sacks, but if you ask him, playing football was not always in his plan.

“I did not like football at first,” Murphy said. “I like baseball. I wanted to stick with baseball. I did not want to play football. My mom was like ‘just give it a try,’ and it’s been uphill ever since.”

Now a three year varsity player, Murphy said he likes seeing how he’s matured on the field since his freshman year and how he’s grown into a team leader.

Rudder head coach Eric Ezar said Murphy takes a different approach when it comes to leading his teammates, because he naturally has a calm demeanor.

“He’s very intense on the field, but he leads by deed. He shows people ‘this is how you do it,’” Ezar said. “And he’s not a real fiery leader guy, but he’s a guy who just does the right thing all the time, and that’s why I’m so proud of him. He’s not just a good football player; he’s a good person.”

While he enjoys spending time with teammates off the field, Murphy said he also plans to get more involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes during the offseason.

“It’s good to be an athlete, but I’m more than just a number, and I want to get my relationship better with God in the offseason,” Murphy said.

The Rangers (5-4, 3-3) will play for their playoff lives against the Huntsville Hornets (6-3, 4-2) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Merrill Green Stadium. Rudder will clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win — what would be the Rangers’ first playoff berth in football in school history.

Murphy’s game plan is to remain focused on the task at hand — for himself and for his teammates.

“I can’t get down, because everybody is looking at me when things are going good and bad,” Murphy said. “My body language says a lot about how I am as a leader. I have to make sure I’m good, so I can benefit my team.”

So far this season Murphy has 42 solo tackles, 79 total tackles, 24 tackles for loss and five sacks. But Murphy said the numbers don’t mean as much to him as giving it your all.

“It’s something that I’m passionate about,” Murphy said. “I take it very serious. If you take something serious, you want to put your best effort into it. I try not to pay attention to the stats. It’s something nice to look at, but I try to just go out there and have fun.”

Murphy said he wants to continue to play football after high school but is still trying to find a college. He plans on majoring in kinesiology and said if football doesn’t work out, he wants to be a personal trainer and work in sports medicine.

Ezar said any college would be lucky to have Murphy on their team and is confident that wherever he ends up he will be successful.

“He was a sophomore on varsity the year before I got here,” Ezar said. “For a sophomore to play on varsity, that says something. He’ll always persevere and do the right thing. He’s one of those guys you don’t have to worry about making it in life, because he’s going to make it.”

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