Morris title trip a team effort
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media November 17, 2012 11:02PM
Morris’ TE Danny Friend (7) is mobbed by his teammates after catching a touchdown pass against Sacred-Heart Griffin in the fourth quarter at Morris, Saturday November, 17, 2012. | Ray Luna ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 19, 2012 1:35PM
The celebration that ensued on the Morris football field Saturday night after the Redskins’ 30-20 Class 5A semifinal victory over Sacred Heart-Griffin was much like the team’s come-from-behind win.
Everyone was involved.
From quarterback Zach Cinnamon, generously listed at 5-foot-11, to end Danny Friend, an imposing 6-5, 250-pound two-way starter, to the offensive line making room for several running backs, Morris used all of its parts to advance to the state championship game to face Montini, a last-minute 40-37 winner over Joliet Catholic.
The announcement of that final score brought a cheer from the Morris crowd in the first half, but nothing like the feeling the Redskins had when their game ended.
“It’s hard to put thoughts into words,’’ Friend said. “This is something we’ve dreamed about since we were little kids. I’m walking on air right now.’’
“I couldn’t ask for anything better, a great family behind me, a great team,’’ said Cinnamon, whose 56-yard run through traffic put Morris ahead for good 17-13 with 7 minutes, 44 seconds left in the third quarter.
Morris (12-1) held Sacred Heart to three-and-out on its next possession, including Collin Grogan dropping Tavion Whitaker for a 3-yard loss on first down.
Morris then mounted a 14-play, 81-yard drive that culminated with Friend leaping between two defenders in the zone for a 24-yard touchdown. That gave the Redskins a 24-13 lead with 9:13 left in the game and proved to be the winning margin.
“The catch Danny made in the end zone was unbelievable,’’ Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “He’s such a special player for us.’’
“The line gave good protection and Cinnamon was able to throw it up,’’ said Friend, an Indiana recruit. “He did a great job of putting it up where I could go make a play on it.’’
Center Preston Miracle, guards Craig Claire and T.J. Layne and tackles Drew Aldrich and Brian Henry opened holes for Grogan (1-yard TD run), Reese Sobol (20 carries, 123 yards) and Jeff Perry, whose 62-yard run put Morris ahead 30-13 with 6:13 to play.
“Usually I’m lead blocker for Reese,’’ Perry said. “That was pretty successful, and then they started stopping that. So they gave it to me and, I took it down the sideline.’’
Morris led 10-7 at halftime after a second-quarter interception by Friend set up a 28-yard field goal by Fernando DelToro.
Sacred Heart (11-2) opened the second half with a 20-yard scoring pass by Gabe Green (11-of-20, 166 yards) for a 13-10 lead. Morris responded with three unanswered touchdowns.
“When it came down to it, it’s let’s line up and see who wants to go to state more,’’ Thorson said. “The whole senior class is amazing. They’ve only lost three games in four years. They’ve been on a mission to get down to state.’’
“My class, since we’ve been little, we’ve had so much heart, so much dedication,’’ said Perry, a 6-3, 220-pound senior. “Eighth grade we went 11-0. We knew we had something special — same with freshman and sophomore year going undefeated. We were just waiting until today, to get this done and go to the championship.’’