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Hi-Line Athlete Profile: Alec Wagner, Lights Football

Bandaged and bruised, veteran Alec Wagner leads the Lights into the future

 

September 5, 2018

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern linebacker Alec Wagner chases a play during last Saturday's game against Rocky Mountain College at Blue Pony Stadium. Through a slew of injuries, and some tough seasons, Wagner is not just a veteran leader for the Lights, he's one of just a handful of seniors helping Northern and new head coach Andrew Rolin into a brighter future.

Continuous effort and continuous improvement are the two things head coach Andrew Rolin has preached since his first day at the helm of the Montana State University-Northern football team, and no player has bought into that mindset more than senior Alec Wagner.

Wagner, a senior linebacker from Laurel, came to the Lights back in 2015. He said one of his goals was to help turn MSU-N around and he said under the direction of Rolin, he feels that change is starting to happen.

"I knew Northern wasn't a top-notch team when I came here," Wagner said. "But we have made some improvements over the years. I wanted to help change the program."

And after 1-1 start to the season, Wagner believes that the turnaround is happening, despite the 51-7 loss to Rocky Mountain College last Saturday.

"As long as we are continually improving, the record really doesn't matter a whole lot," Wagner said. "And obviously it has since coach Rolin arrived in January. It is growing more and more and becoming a winning culture. I wanted to see the program turn around, and I believe we are well on our way to doing that."

While Wagner has always wanted to help the Lights grow their football program, he also plays college football because he loves the game, even though it hasn't always been easy, especially with all the injuries he has sustained over the course of his career.

"I tore some ligaments in my ankle," Wagner said. "I've got a torn labrum in my right shoulder, a partial left in my left shoulder, a partial AC joint tear in my left shoulder and I have had two surgeries on my left arm, one in high school and one while I was here."

Even in the face of all that, Wagner said he couldn't imagine giving up football.

"I just love the game too much," Wagner said. "I really can't imagine life without it. I want to coach after I play; I just couldn't imagine life without football."

Wagner, who is studying to become a teacher, has put together a solid individual career at Northern, one that started in 2015, when he started one game and played in four total. He finished with 15 tackles and three tackles for loss. In 2016, Wagner played in nine games for MSU-N and racked up 59 total tackles and one sack, and last season, he finished with 48 tackles, a sack and three tackles for loss. Wagner also has eight tackles in the first two games of the season to go along with a pass breakup.

Over the past four seasons, Wagner has been a consistent presence at linebacker for the Lights, and he will continue to be all season long and again this Saturday as Northern travels to Dillon to take on Montana-Western. The Lights and Bulldogs will be do battle at 6 p.m., but before Wagner and MSU-N hit the road, the Havre Daily News caught up with him for five questions.

HDN: What do you think you guys learned from the loss to Rocky?

Wagner: "Obviously, it was a bit of a wake up call for us. But there are still some positives to take away from it. We had great effort and as long as we get that, we will continue to get better."

HDN: You guys seem to be more opportunistic this year on defense and have forced five turnovers so far, what do you think is the reason for that?

Wagner: "Probably the effort actually. There is no doubt about it; we are giving great effort on every single play, and if you are doing that, something good is going to happen for your defense."

HDN: What has been the biggest change brought in by coach Rolin?

Wagner: "It all comes back to continuous effort and continuous improvement. He has pounded that into our heads since he got here. Trying to get better and have continuous improvement every day is what we are doing to change this program."

HDN: What has been your favorite memory as a player?

Wagner: "Beating Carroll my sophomore year is one and just seeing the growth of this team from when coach Rolin came to now. That has been the best part of being here, the last seven months and watching this team grow."

HDN: What have you enjoyed the most about playing for Northern?

Wagner: "Definitely the community. The people of Havre are just so great. Havre is such a sports town. I love that because Laurel was such a great sports town and having that is pretty cool to me."

 

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