MORRIS — Last season, the Morris football team traveled to Washington in the second week of the year and beat the Panthers, 21-10, at a time when Washington was ranked No. 2 in Class 5A and Morris was No. 6 in 4A.
This year, Washington will come to Morris, and again, both teams are ranked in their classes, albeit a little higher. Washington is currently the top-ranked team in Class 5A, and Morris is No. 3 in 4A.
Washington returns a bulk of its starting lineup from last season, including quarterback Caleb Fisher and wide receiver Cole Ludolph, who connected for 11 receptions and 122 yards in last year's game. Fisher, a third-year starter for the Panthers, threw for two touchdowns, ran for one and returned an interception for a TD last week in a season-opening 52-7 win over Mahomet-Seymour. Ludolph caught one of the TD passes, and running back Sam Walter had 154 rushing yards on just six carries, including touchodwn runs of 61 and 66 yards. The Washington defense, meanwhile, collected seven sacks.
"Washington is very good," Morris coach Alan Thorson said. "They are big on both sides of the line, their quarterback is a three-year starter who has been good for the last two years and is now a senior. Their running back [Walter] has a lot of speed.
"It's always a good game whenever we play them, and I don't expect anything less this year."
Morris, meanwhile, got 144 yards and a touchdown from Chatten Dryfhout in a 21-7 win over Coal City, while quarterback Mitchell Mayberry completed 4 of 7 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown.
"We hope to make some strides from Week 1 to Week 2," Thorson said. "Watching the Coal City film, we did a lot of good things. There were a few little mistakes that cost us big. Our focus all week this week has been cleaning those things up and doing what we do best."
Thorson is interested to see how his team responds after the emotional opener against its neighboring rival to then playing a team ranked No. 1 in the state. One thing he feels that will be to the Redskins' advantage is the home field.
"We have played Washington four or five times since I have been here," Thorson said. "I think all but one of those games has been down there, so it will be nice to have them come up here. You always want to have that home field advantage, and our teams always play well at home.
"Washington will be very balanced. They didn't need to throw much last week, but when they did, they did it well. They have always been a good running team, but they throw it enough that you can't load up against the run, kind of like we like to be. We feel good throwing the ball, too, with Mitchell and some of the receivers that we have. We hope to be able to take advantage of that."