MISSOULA — After six years of leading the Missoula Hellgate football program, including bringing the Knights back to the Class AA varsity level, Mick Morris is moving on to a new chapter in life.
Morris told MTN Sports on Wednesday that he is resigning as Hellgate's football coach after he accepted the assistant principal job at Helena Capital High School. Morris let his team know of the move on Wednesday afternoon.
"I want to sincerely thank the Hellgate community for the past six years," Morris told MTN Sports. "I want to thank our administration: Judson Miller, Nick Laatsch, and Susie Bageant for their unparalleled support both professionally and personally. Hellgate is such a special place and I'm lucky to have called it home for the past six years. What we accomplished in bringing Hellgate football back to respectability would not have been possible without an amazing staff: Brian Salonen, Joe Slemberger, Jeff Dohn, Bob Schenk, Sean Hogan, Chris Woldstad, and RL Boyles.
"I want to personally thank Paul Capp, our athletic trainer, for his commitment to our student athletes. He is unrivaled. And lastly, I want to thank all our current and former players. I feel blessed to have coached such a fine group of young athletes; their dedication, commitment, and accountability was never questioned. KAK!"
Morris, a Butte native, took over the Hellgate program in 2016 after the Knights forfeited their varsity schedule due to numbers. Hellgate played a junior varsity schedule that year as Morris and Co. began building the program back up.
Behind Morris' leadership, in 2017 the Knights made their return to the Class AA varsity ranks and went 0-10, but in 2018, Hellgate snapped a 57-game losing streak on Sept. 21, 2018 against Great Falls CMR for their first varsity win since Oct. 5, 2012. That losing streak includes the 2016 forfeited season.
The Knights went 2-8 in 2018 and in 2019 started the year 3-0 before finishing 3-6 and losing to Billings Senior in the first round of the Class AA playoffs. The Knights went 1-6 in 2020 and 2-6 in 2021.
While the program has grown, numbers of players out have continued to be an issue for Hellgate's team, but Morris' groups were still competitive with some of the state's best despite what the season records were, especially in recent years. The talent within the program continued to grow, too, as athletes who were standouts in other sports started to play football as well, with former Hellgate star Rollie Worster leading the team at quarterback and linebacker from the onset of the program coming back, to recent talents like Ian Finch (Montana), Tommy Nilson (Montana State), Jacob Sweatland (Carroll College) and Layne Cooney (Montana Western) all bound for college programs after this year. Plus, returners like Connor Dick and Leo Filardi have the future bright for Hellgate's team.
A 2000 graduate of Butte High, Morris spent three seasons as the head football coach at Conrad from 2013-15, which included a Class B semifinal run in 2014. Morris is currently the dean of students at Hellgate and will finish out the school year before beginning his new position at Capital in August.