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Morris football team impresses coaches in scrimmage

MORRIS – All things considered, Morris football coach Alan Thorson thought of Friday night’s intrasquad game was a success. The Redskins were able to run through some plays in front of a crowd of fans in the stands, and no one got hurt.

“It all went well,” Thorson said. “We had no injuries, and I felt like we looked real good on the field.”

With as many returning players as Morris has this year – seven on offense and six on defense – one would expect the club to look pretty sharp. Looks can be deceiving, but Thorson was more than pleased with the look of things when he viewed the tape of the practice.

“We looked at the film,” Thorson said. “And honestly, we did look good. Last year, we looked at the film and spent two hours going over things with the kids the next day. This year, we looked at the film and we looked real sharp and gave them the day off from practice Saturday.”

Not only were the Redskin coaches impressed with the returning starters, there were several newcomers to the varsity who put forth some impressive performances. Thorson said juniors Joey and Jacob Webb played well at wide receiver, and running back Tommy Balentine showed good speed. Thorson also was impressed with sophomore Keagan Sobol’s showing at linebacker and fullback, where he split time with senior Matt Feiden.

“We expected our returning guys to put on a good show,” Thorson said. “We were really impressed with a lot of the younger guys, too. Those were the guys we were really keeping a closer eye on, and they did real well.”

It also was the first practice of the season in which there were officials on the field calling penalties, and Morris came through with flying colors in that regard as well.

“The officials actually complimented us on how well-disciplined a team we are,” Thorson said. “They pointed out some things that are going to be points of emphasis this year, like targeting and other things; but penalty-wise, we really came out of the scrimmage pretty clean.

“That’s definitely something you like to see coming out of a scrimmage like this one. We cleaned up a lot of things that hurt us last year in that respect. Now, we have to continue to do that when the season starts for real.”

Morris starts the season for real Friday night when the Redskins travel to Minooka. The Indians beat the Redskins last year, 21-14, marking their first win in the series since 2000, and the first time ever that they won in Morris. The next week sees Morris hosts perennial downstate power Metamora, which the Redskins defeated, 17-14, last year.

Thorson also was pleased with the public turnout for the scrimmage, as it let the team get the feel of playing in front of a crowd.

“It’s nice to get these kids in front of a big group of fans,” he said. “They have been working so hard all off-season, and to have people cheering for them again was real nice.”

The players enjoyed that aspect of it as well.

“We have lifted weights and practiced all alone since last season ended,” senior captain Robbie Meucci said. “It’s nice to get out on the field in front of the town of Morris. That’s what this is all about.

“But, we’re ready to stop hitting each other and hit someone with another colored jersey.”

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