After allowing 33 points to Kaneland in a Week 9 loss, Morris turned its attention to shoring up its defense in the week heading up to Saturday’s Class 5A first-round game against Rich East.
The added attention certainly paid dividends.
The Redskins defense surrendered 98 total yards while the offense took advantage of prime field position to drub Rich East 44-0 in Morris.
The No. 2 Redskins (9-1) play the winner of No. 6 East Peoria and No. 3 Urbana in the second round. Rich East finishes at 6-4.
“The coaches did a great job preparing against these guys (Rich East) and it showed on the field,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “I liked the way we responded after last week’s game. We came out angry and we proved a point. We’ve said all year that the defense is the strength of this team.”
Thorson would get no arguments from the Rockets in that regard, though the Redskins offense and special teams weren’t too shabby, either.
Credit the special teams for pretty much hand-delivering the first 31 points of the game.
On Morris’ first five series, the Redskins started drives at the Rich East 12-, 38-, 18-, 18- and 23-yard lines.
With the exception of the second series, when the Redskins’ Mike McNelis pounced on a fumble at the Rocket’ 38, it was the punt return unit, led by return men Jake Hogan and Kyle Hill, doing much of the work.
“Our special teams play was very good,” Thorson said.
Hogan first return, covering 48 yards, set up a 12-yard TD run by Jeff Perry for a 7-0 lead after the first of five point-after kicks by Fernando DelToro.
Reese Sobol’s 38-yard TD run, set up by McNelis’ fumble recovery, made it 14-0 at 8:10 of the first quarter.
After a three-and-out by the Rockets, Hill took the ensuing punt 43 yards to the East 18. Two plays later, Sobol barreled in from 11 yards out for a 21-0 lead.
DelToro added a 30-yard field goal, set up by a 32-yard return by Hogan, for a 24-0 lead after one quarter.
The second quarter was just four seconds old when the Redskins increased their lead to 31-0 on a 4-yard run by Collin Grogan.
“All three backs had outstanding games,” Thorson said of Perry, Sobol and Grogan, who combined for 187 yards and six touchdowns. “If we wanted to pass, we could have. We throw when we have to.”
That wasn’t necessary on this day.
“Field position and special teams killed us,” Rich East coach Barry Reade said. “Physically, we couldn’t match up.”
The Rockets produced just 41 rushing yards, with Kenneth Naylor leading the way with 25.