Salina’s Wyatt Murphy – Athlete of the Month Presented by Red Crown Credit Union

By John Tranchina

Even though he is going to be just a sophomore this upcoming season, Wyatt Murphy is already taking on a leadership role for the Salina football squad. It’s a role he takes seriously, recognizing how important it is to the team’s fortunes.

“Train hard – training is the main thing,” Murphy said. “If you see other people pushing it, then they’re going to want to push too, so pretty much, you’re competing with your other athletes in practice, just to get them going.”

While he plays both inside linebacker on defense and left tackle on offense, Murphy enjoys playing defense more, primarily because he likes being the one to initiate contact with opponents.

“I like defense,” said Murphy, who also competes on Salina’s wrestling team. “It’s just that I’m hitting somebody. On the (offensive) line, I’m just blocking, I’m just slowing somebody down, but on defense, it’s more of a thrill, it’s like every play, you’re going downhill.”

Murphy noted that he has been working on improving his conditioning during the summer’s off-season training period, doing a lot of jogging, to help him better handle the load of lining up on the field for just about every play of the game.

“Mainly conditioning,” he said, referring to his off-season focus. “I’ve only gained 20 pounds since last year. A lot of jogging, a lot of running. (During games), halftime is hard, because your blood slows down and then you go back out there and you’re feeling all your pain and you’re just stuck there hurting, so the next half is tough.”

Murphy helped the Wildcats go 5-6 last season, reaching the Class 2A playoffs before losing in the first round to eventual state champion Sperry. He believes Salina is primed for another post-season appearance this year.

“I think it will be all right,” he said of his team’s outlook. “I think our goal is to get to playoffs this year, and we’ll see from there.”

Besides wrestling in the winter, Murphy is also involved in the Future Farmers of America at Salina, showing sheep, chickens, geese, ducks, and cows.

Salina coach Justin Brown points out that as skilled as Murphy is on the field, perhaps his biggest contribution comes from his character and leadership.

“Wyatt is a very good player,” Brown said. “He started last year as a freshman and he will be one of the biggest leaders on our team as a sophomore. As good as he is as a player, he’s a better person. Any coach in America would take a team full of Wyatt Murphy clones in a second.”