Under the crisp November sky in Pocatello, Idaho, nearly 11,000 fans gathered to witness a historic moment: the final game of the Ricks College Vikings.

The atmosphere was electric, charged with the bittersweet anticipation of a legacy’s end.

The Vikings, donning their iconic blue, stormed the field with an unyielding resolve, determined to etch their names into history. As they clashed with the undefeated Lackawanna College, the stadium roared with every play.

The Vikings’ relentless spirit culminated in a resounding 49-21 victory, a triumphant farewell that echoed through the hearts of players and supporters alike. As the crowd began to disperse, all that remained of the Vikings were 82 years of tradition and memories.

With an all-time record of 391-248, Ricks College football officially became extinct.

Coach Ron Haun, his voice thick with emotion, dedicated the victory to every soul who had ever worn Viking blue, encapsulating decades of dedication, dreams and indomitable Viking pride.

Twenty-three years later, Scroll talked to one of the last Vikings about the final season as well as the rest of his football career after that fateful game.

Shawn Murphy knew heading into the 2001 season as a freshman that the future was uncertain for Ricks football.

The BYUI field

The BYUI field Photo credit: Caleb Herrick

The year prior, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced that Ricks College would transition into a four-year institution, BYU-Idaho. Unfortunately, intercollegiate sports would not be included in the transition.

As an excellent defensive end at Lone Peak High School in Highland, Utah, poor grades precluded Murphy from more prestigious recruitment. He took a chance on Ricks knowing that even though this was the last year of football, Ricks had a storied past, and there would be opportunities to excel in front of scouts for larger schools.

“The team had a do-or-die attitude,” Murphy said. “We wanted to win that season not just for us but for the coaches and fans in the community that cared so much for the program.”

Another worldwide event that impacted their perspective was the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center that occurred during the season.

“The 9/11 attacks honestly brought us closer together as a team and united us as well as the country as a whole,” Murphy said.

The Vikings went on to have a stunning season, only falling once — a loss to Dixie State University in overtime. Murphy remembered the feeling of winning the last game.

“Everyone was celebrating, but I remember looking at the coaches’ faces and seeing them crying,” Murphy said. “The football program was huge for the community, and it was a loss that you could tell everyone felt.”

After the season ended, Murphy served a mission in Brazil, where he lost some of his enthusiasm for football.

“On my mission, I lost a lot of weight and really kind of lost my passion to play anymore,” Murphy said. “After I got home, I actually decided not to play anymore until my dad took me to a BYU-Notre Dame game. Being in that atmosphere brought it all back for me. In that moment, I knew I wanted back on the field.”

Shawn Murphy with the Denver Broncos

Shawn Murphy with the Denver Broncos. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Murphy went to Dixie State, where he played for a year. While there, he transitioned from defensive end to offensive lineman.

After a year at Dixie State, he transferred to Utah State, where he was able to show off his talent at a higher level. Even though the team as a whole struggled, Murphy was able to stand out to NFL scouts with tenacity on the line.

Murphy was selected in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins.

“I knew that I had attracted some attention from some teams,” Murphy said. “My family had a party. We all thought it would be the fifth or sixth rounds. When the call came in the fourth round I was stunned. It was such a huge moment.”

After struggling to secure a starting position in the NFL and battling injuries, Murphy played just one game in the NFL. He concluded his NFL career in 2011 and has since transitioned to work as a software engineer in California.

“I loved my time in Rexburg,” Murphy said. “I really think it’s a shame that they discontinued the football program. It really meant a lot to the community. If there was a petition to bring back sports, my name would be the first on it.”