LaSALLE – Coming into Friday night’s game against LaSalle-Peru, the Morris football team was playing for pride. The Redskins came in with a 3-5 record and the playoffs were not a possibility.
After a steady rain fell during most of the sophomore game, which Morris won, 20-0, the Redskins went out and doubled up the sophomore team, using a steady diet of power running and a punishing defense to end the season with a 40-0 victory and a 4-5 record.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the kids,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “This might be the most bittersweet victory I have ever had as a coach. I know in my heart that this is a good football team, and the way they came out and showed that tonight speaks a lot about their character.”
The Redskins were a little banged up coming into the game, as starting safety Michael Cryder and starting offensive lineman Brennan Goff were out. But their replacements stepped in and made a difference.
With Cryder out, regular cornerback Payton Bruyn moved to safety and junior Austin Dearing took Bruyn’s spot at corner.
With Goff out of the lineup, fellow sophomore Nathan Korte started in his place on the offensive line, and the Redskins began a methodical march to the end zone. Running out of the T formation with running backs Michael Gerischer, Kegan Sobol and Michael Feeney behind quarterback Ricky Del Favero, who was getting his first start of the season, the Redskins ran the ball on all eight plays of the drive, with Sobol scoring on a 22-yard run. Dallas Hastings added the extra point kick, and the Redskins took a 7-0 lead.
Morris’ defense did not allow another first down until it owned a 40-0 lead in the fourth quarter.
Late in the first quarter, Morris took over at the Cavs’ 40 after a 10-yard punt return. On first down, Del Favero faked a handoff, and tight end Delaney Stutzki got behind the L-P defense. Del Favero hit the wide open Stutzki near the 20-yard line and Stutzki ran it in for a 40-yard touchdown and the 13-0 lead.
After another LaSalle-Peru punt, Morris started at the L-P 41. Five plays later, Del Favero faked another handoff and ran a bootleg the other way, avoiding a tackler in the backfield and running 10 yards for another touchdown.
Luis Luna’s kick made it 20-0 with 7:05 to play until halftime. The Morris defense forced another punt, and Dearing returned it 16 yards to the L-P 32. On the first play, Tommy Balentine ran for a 14-yard gain, and a personal foul on L-P moved the ball to the 8. Another run lost six yards, and a false start put it back on the 19.
After a two-yard run by Will Ringer, Del Favero threw deep to Jake Webb, who outjumped the L-P defender in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown and a 26-0 lead, which Morris took into halftime.
Morris got the second-half kickoff, and L-P attempted an onside kick that went out of bounds, setting Morris up at its own 43.
Sobol, who finished with a team-high 103 yards on nine carries, scored from 24 yards out for a 33-0 lead, and the Redskins capped the scoring when Gerischer (12 carries, 83 yards) scored from nine yards out on the next drive.
“Our offensive line was outstanding tonight,” Thorson said. “We had planned to run the ball a lot tonight, and when the rain came, it made it that much better for us, Nathan Korte stepped in and did a good job, our tight ends blocked well and our backs did a good job of lead blocking.
“It was nice to see the defense get a shutout. [Assistant] coaches [John] Courter and [Keith] Anderson do a great job with the defense. Our defense has been very good all year. In some of our games, our offense put them in bad spots, but we didn’t tonight and you saw what a difference that makes.”