Time is of the essence at Morrow
Mustangs still feeling slow on offense

By Brian Paglia


There goes Jarell Alexander. He found an opening along the offensive line, flew through it with few bodies in his vincinity to halt his touchdown run, something Morrow accomplished just six times all last season.

But his running wasn't over. As he crossed the end zone, a cacophony of whistles burst forth, led by head coach Larry Mortonson.

Every Mustangs coach implored players to keep moving, to maintain a tempo close to what they'll experience Saturday in Morrow's scrimmage against Spalding.

Tempo, Mortonson says, is his offense's biggest challenge in Mortonson's second season at Morrow.

"Our timing is just not right," he said. "We're not coming off the ball like I think we should. We're trying to really pick up the tempo getting in and out of the huddle. We're just not at game speed yet.

"Even though we're into our 13th practice, we need to be a little better coming off the ball, getting in and out of the huddle and back to the line of scrimmage."

With a staff of just five coaches, including Mortonson, repetitions during practice are a commodity. Only a consistent tempo will do.

At one point during practice the offense lingered in the huddle, seemingly lost at what came next.

"Come on guys," Mortonson said, "you're costing us reps right now."

Morrow went 1-9 last season for the fourth time in five years, scoring just 41 total points in 10 games. And they are trying to improve with just four returning starters and a quarterback who played wide receiver last season.

Asked what concerns Mortonson as the season approaches, he thinks of the offense and hesitates.

Asked what he is most anxious to see from his team this season, Mortonson quickly starts talking about his defense.

Though it returns just one starter, though it surrendered the most points in Region 4-AAAAA last season, Mortonson believes the Mustangs' defense should played markedly better.

"I'm looking forward to what our defense can do," Mortonson said. "We struggled last year. And coming in we were not very aggressive at times, and our tackling was just very poor. We've tried to concentrate on that a little more this season and get ready for it.

"So I'm really anxious to see what happens and see if the defense is going to respond; see if they're going to be flying around like we're expecting them to."

Mortonson seems well aware of the challenge before the Mustangs, that a program mired in 10 straight losing seasons is hoping to break that streak with a team that has just five starters returning.

But Mortonson is optimistic that all the returning players have enough playing experience to take a step forward in year two.

"Fortunately, we had enough of the guys coming back that had playing time," Mortonson said. "They've got experience. They didn't get the No. 1 reps, but they did get playing time.

"We feel pretty good with the nucleus that's coming back. They have a concept. We're excited about it. We're looking forward to the challenge."