Friend shines on both sides of ball

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Danny Friend is not one to take a side. He is instinctively great wherever he plays.

The 6-5, 250-pound two-way standout relishes the chance to do whatever is necessary to put Morris over the top.

His 24-yard touchdown catch secured the Redskins’ 30-20 victory over Sacred Heart-Griffin in the Class 5A semifinal and set up their clash with three-time defending state champion Montini at 10 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

Friend’s first-half interception provided a spark for the Redskins (12-1), securing Morris’ first state-final appearance since the 2007 team lost to Metamora 17-14.

“If I had to choose between scoring on a touchdown pass or getting a pick, I’d have a hard time because I like them both,” Friend said.

Morris coach Alan Thorson said Friend is a magnet around the ball.

“He’s a competitor who just gives it everything he has,” Thorson said of Friend, who is set to play tight end for Indiana.

Friend has caught 13 passes, averaging 21 yards per catch. He has a team-best four touchdown catches.

His blocking keys the Redskins’ dominating running game, highlighted by senior running back Reese Sobol (1,450 yards, 18 touchdowns).

“I try to do the best I can,” Friend said. “We’re primarily a running team, but our quarterback, Zach [Cinnamon], throws great balls. When we need them, I can go up and make the catch.”

The Class 5A title game is a showdown of prestigious programs. At Morris, football has an almost mystical attraction. Morris has reached nine state championship games, winning four. Friend said the team is focused on capturing the school’s first crown since the 2005 team, which went 14-0.

“Playing in the state championship, I can’t put that feeling into words,” he said. “This is something all the seniors have dreamed about since we were little kids.”

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