Morris football headed to state again
Morris' football team about to board the Champaign Train once again.
Defending Redskins Field in the Class 5A semifinals against visiting Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin, Morris bounced back from an early 7-0 deficit and rolled to a 30-20 win.
"I can't believe it honestly. Since the fifth grade when I started playing football, all the coaches have ever talked about is making it to the state championship game and hopefully winning it," Morris running back Reese Sobol said. "We're making the most of it right now. We have to keep the train rolling."
Sobol spearheaded a rushing attack by the Redskins that amassed 369 yards rushing in 58 carries — mostly out of their vaunted T-formation.
The Cyclones opened with a 38-yard TD pass from quarterback Gabe Green to Malik Turner and the kick by Kenny Rowe made it 7-0.
However, Morris later answered with a 12-play drive that was capped by a 1-yard TD run by Collin Grogan and Fernando Del Toro's kick tied the game with 6:10 before half. The Redskins then went into the locker room with a 10-7 lead thanks to a 28-yard Del Toro kick as time expired in the first half.
The Redskins utilized the I-formation and some spread in the early going, then turned to their ever-reliable T-formation to get the offense going.
"We came out in I and it wasn't really working like we thought it would," Sobol said. "So we moved into T and started running the ball all over them."
"That's us just going all old fashioned," Morris quarterback Zach Cinnamon said. "Us putting two hands in the dirt and pounding it."
"The T is used when we want to kill everyone," Morris senior Collin Grogan said. "You can't stop the T. It's a powerhouse."
Morris coach Alan Thorson said that credit goes to SHG for their defense limiting the Redskins outside of using the T-formation.
"We saw some things in I-(formation) that were there, but credit a great Sacred Heart team. It's a semifinal game, it was an awesome atmosphere. They did a good job of shutting our I down," he said. "We did some things that worked in spread, too, but when it came down to it, it was old school football. It was grind it out in T and it worked."
Sacred Heart took a brief 13-10 lead after the intermission on a 20-yard TD pass from Green to Mitch Trees but the PAT kick went wide left. Three plays later, Cinnamon bolted 56 yards on a keeper up the gut and Del Toro's kick gave the Redskins a 17-13 lead — one that they would not relinquish the rest of the day.
"They really weren't covering the A-gaps. I went through, a kid hit me and I just kept on driving. It worked out," Cinnamon said. "We saw it on film. We knew they weren't going to play A-gap and we thought the QB sneak would be there the whole time."
Morris then built the lead to 30-13 on a 24-yard TD pass from Cinnamon to Danny Friend and then a 61-yard TD romp by Jeff Perry. The second PAT attempt failed.
Perry compiled 116 yards in 10 carries for the Redskins.
"They started to stop (Sobol), so they gave it to me and I took it down the sideline. It was a 34-double lead," Perry said. "My two running backs told me to just follow them. It was on the inside and the line blocked great. I read the fullback's block, went inside and took it all the way."
"Jeff was running all over the place," Sobol said. "That's what you've got to do. When one guy is having a good game, you have to keep giving him the ball."
SHG capped the scoring on an 8-yard TD run by Green and the PAT kick accounted for the 10-point margin of victory.
"It's awesome. There is not even another word I can say. I am so happy for these kids and the coaching staff," Thorson said. "The amount of work that these kids have put in for us as a coaching staff — we have asked for so much out of them and this is the payoff. I couldn't be prouder of this team."