Lydon Murtha talks playoffs and Gophers

6-8, 320-pound tackle Lydon Murtha of Hutchinson was the first player to verbally commit to the Gophers for next season. The outstanding tackle is having another terrific year, despite being slowed by an early-season shoulder injury. Hutchinson (9-3) defeated Farmington 34-18 victory in last Friday's Class 4A state semifinals at the Metrodome. They will play for the Class 4A state championship versus 10-1 Totino Grace. Golden caught up with the Hutchinson tackle after Friday's win.

Murtha helped open big hole for Star Tribune Metro Player of the Nathan Swift as he carried 47 times for 219 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Swift has rushed 77 times for 483 yards and nine touchdowns in the Tigers' state-tournament victories over Minneapolis North and Farmington and enters the state championship game with 2,349 yards and 28 touchdowns.


Hutchinson started the season 2-2 and finished the regular season 5-3 with quarterback and fellow Gopher commitment Tony Mortensen sidelined for four games before winning four straight playoff contests. This was much different than last year when the Tigers were undefeated going into the state tournament before getting knocked off by Mahtomedi in the semifinals on a late field goal.


I know that you had some injury problems early in the season, but how do you think that you guys are playing going into the championship game?


"Our team is playing at its peak. It could not be any better than it is right now. At the beginning of the year, we started out slowly. We had some young, inexperienced players, but they have all come together and we are playing at our optimum right now. We've had a few injuries. Tony hurt his knee. I hurt my shoulder. Those injuries can affect the way you play. You just got to overcome them. We've all come together and you couldn't come together at a better time.


With Tony sidelined for four games with the knee injury, Hutchinson went even more to a running attack. The running game has really paid off in the postseason. Do you think in a way that it has helped you that you had to run even more with an inexperienced quarterback and now that running game is really dominating your opponents?


Our running game is one of strongest things. We got Nate (Swift) as running back and also as a receiver. He is an athlete. He is everything that you could ask out of a back. We've got a quarterback who is going to the "U" next year with me. We are a dual threat. We can run or throw. Our running game is strong right now. Our line is coming together and we are just clicking together.


Have you been able to get to many of the Gopher games?

I've been to five of their games so far, all home games. We might go to Iowa (last weekend's game versus the Hawkeyes) tomorrow. We'll see what happens. They are a great team. This year, their rushing attack has been awesome.


Much like you guys, the Gophers have an excellent running attack with Barber and Maroney. Do you feel that this is going to be a great situation for you to step into with that running attack?


That's great. I have a great running back in high school and I can step right in college and have even better running backs than anyone can imagine. He's (Coach Glen Mason) has done wonders for the Gophers. We'll see what happens the first year. If I'm redshirted, that's fine.


You obviously have one more game left and then you play in the high school All-Star Game in San Antonio. Talk a little about that honor?


It is the top 78. They choose 400 players and then they review. The board members come together and select the 78 that are all-Americans and you get to travel down there, all expenses paid to San Antonio to play on TV. It is a great atmosphere. I'll be playing with everyone my skill level and it will be a great experience. The game is on January 3rd on NBC.

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