By Rory Sharrock
Mt. Zion head football coach Jarrett Laws took over in 2007 with a goal of a revised offensive strategy to spread the defense thin and with an increased awareness on discipline from his players.
His team experienced some difficulty during his first year on the job, but if Friday night's result was any indication of things to come, he and the Bulldogs should be in for a fun season.
Laws' former secret weapon, sophomore running back Quartterio Morgan, let the cat out the bag about his flashy speed as he ran for 132 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns to give the Bulldogs a 28-21 triumph over Lovejoy at Twelve Oaks Stadium Friday night.
"We're building this thing the right way. Too many people want to build a program with a quick fix and they don't get into the deep-rooted problem of the program," said Laws. "Are they going to class on time? Are they showing up to workouts on time? Are they taking care of the little things? Anybody can scheme up, but are they taking care of the little things. That is the difference between the group I coached in the past and the group now. They are detailed oriented and I love them for that."
Mt. Zion jumped out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter and it was all smiles for the canine faithful sporting the red and black.
But those smiles turned into concern after botching a punt deep in Lovejoy territory. The turnover put the Wildcats on the 15-yard line and on the ensuing play, sophomore quarterback Vic Hardison found fellow classmate Trey Washington in the corner of the end zone, cutting the deficit to 14-7 at the break.
After the halftime show, Mt. Zion came out the gates blazing with Morgan taking the second half kick-off 97-yards score. However, the celebration was short-lived due to a holding call that nullified the score, putting the Bulldogs at midfield.
Nevertheless, five plays later, Morgan showed off his durability by blowing past the defense for a 12-yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
Later in the quarter, Morgan's offensive line created a hole as wide as Interstate 75 and ran up the middle with ease for his second score, giving Mt. Zion a 28-7 advantage.
In the fourth, Lovejoy made it interesting following a fumble recovery for a touchdown, which put it behind by seven.
The Wildcats had one last chance late in the game, however, Hardison's fourth-down pass was picked off by Kelvin Morgan to seal the contest for Mt. Zion.
Lovejoy's massive offensive line, which features five stud athletes, including All-State player Andre Harris, was man-handled by Mt. Zion's defensive front. The Wildcats were unable to move the ball with any fluidity and it led to their demise in the season opener.
"My defensive line took it as a personal challenge," said Laws. "In every magazine, in every newspaper and on the Internet, all they heard was how huge their (Lovejoy) line was. Andre Harris will have a great career in college, but these boys took pride in playing against the best. When you play against the best, you're going to rise against the best."