MORRIS – Coming off a big win on the road against Washington, the state’s No. 2-ranked team in Class 5A, the Morris football team must hit the road again, traveling even farther to take on Quincy Notre Dame on Friday, Sept. 8.
But for this group of Redskins, the lengthy road trip is beginning to be the norm.
“We went to Triad in the playoffs last year and we went to Washington last week,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “These kids have the routine down pretty good for these long road trips.
“We will stop about halfway, get off the bus, get them fed and let them stretch their legs and then get back on the road. These kids are comfortable with the routine.”
The Redskins were fired up to take on Washington, knowing that the Panthers were highly ranked in the state polls.
Thorson doesn’t see any signs of his team experiencing a letdown this week, even though the game is against a team that they beat 48-7 last season.
“They are a much improved team from last year,” Thorson said about the Raiders, who finished 4-5 last season and are 1-1 so far this year. “They have a lot of starters returning from last year, especially on the line. They have a receiver [Reed Hyer] who has three touchdown catches in their two games and he is a real good athlete.
“Our kids know that they won’t just go down there, show up and win, especially on their field. We celebrated the win on the way home Friday night, but when we came in to watch film Saturday, the kids were focused on what we needed to improve.”
Thorson said that Quincy Notre Dame, which beat Hannibal, Missouri, in Week 1 and lost to Rock Island Alleman last week, likes to run a power running offense, but noted that they are not afraid to put it in the air as well.
The Morris defense had a good deal of success stopping the Washington running attack last Friday, allowing just 56 yards on the ground.
Meanwhile, the Redskins ran for 193 yards and junior quarterback Mitchell Mayberry completed 5 of 7 passes for 56 yards. In two games, he has completed 9 of 13 for 177 yards and has not been intercepted.
“Mitchell is gaining more and more confidence,” Thorson said. “It was nice to see him perform well against a good team like Washington. If he can continue to play like that, it will keep defenses honest and that will open things up for our running game.”
Kameron Dransfeldt saw most of the carries Friday night, but Thorson said he wants to get more players involved in the offense.
“We have some talented kids that just haven’t been able to get the ball much,” he said. “We only ran 32 plays last week, so things were pretty limited. We want to get the ball in the hands of some of our other guys at the skill positions, because we know they can do good things with it.
“The main thing is that we have come out of the first two games healthy. These kids want to get to work every day. They know it’s a long season and we are far from done working.”