Morgan Park quarterback William James absorbed a crushing blow from Robeson’s Hakeem Washington on a second-quarter incompletion Thursday night.
The big hit did little to shake James’ confidence.
Two plays later, he stood tall in a collapsing pocket and delivered a strike to Greg Howell for a 35-yard touchdown as Morgan Park went on to beat Robeson 22-8 in a Public League playoff at Gately Stadium.
“Army came up a few weeks ago and offered (James) a scholarship,” Morgan Park coach Terry Atkins said. “They commented on how tough he was and I think that’s really pushed him over the top. Now he’s taking on a tough-man mentality.”
James flexed his muscles and finished 6-for-12 for 90 yards and two touchdowns. He added an 11-yard TD run in the third quarter to give Morgan Park (6-3) a 22-0 lead.
“At the beginning of the season I had a problem with trying to make every play perfect, and my coaches were getting on me for being too hard on myself,” James said. “I wasn’t forgetting the last play. But you can’t worry about that and you’ve got to keep moving on. My line was doing a great job. I have faith in those guys.”
James jumpstarted the scoring on a 42-yard TD pass to Antonio Alsup midway through the first quarter. Alsup used his big frame to make a contested catch in traffic before his speed led him to the end zone.
“We had a few distractions earlier,” Atkins said. “Before the game started someone pulled the fire alarm and kind of frazzled the guys as they were getting prepared, so I’m happy they were able to regain their focus and play a solid game.”
With just 18 players hitting the field, Robeson (5-4) hung tough but wore down as time went on. Two-way starters Robert Woods and Washington kept the Raiders competitive.
Woods had an interception, caught a 19-yard touchdown and added 90 yards from scrimmage. Washington recorded a tackle for loss and two sacks on consecutive plays, the last of which resulted in a safety to put Robeson on the scoreboard.
“I wish I could have those guys another year, but they’re seniors,” Robeson coach Fabray Collins said. “One of our best players (Darren Williams) got hurt, so I needed leadership from those two. They really stepped up.”
But Washington wasn’t the only defensive lineman showing flashes of dominance.
Morgan Park’s Jawon Denton had a batted pass, a sack and a tackle for loss in leading an attacking front seven. Atkins said Denton, a sophomore, is leading the team in sacks.
“Monday through Thursday we’ve been practicing hard,” Denton said. “It’s a family. We’ve just got to keep working and wrapping up tackles.”
Morgan Park running back Darius Burse had 107 yards on 18 carries.
Jordan Lay and Jarred Edwards converted 2-point conversions for the Mustangs.