O’Brien: Morgan Park, powered by underclassmen, routs Orr

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Morgan Park didn’t get to play a game Week 1. Steinmetz, the Mustangs’ scheduled opponent, ended up forfieting. The Silver Streaks didn’t have enough players to field a team.

That meant that the Mustangs’ talented underclassmen had to wait an extra week to finally line up against an actual opponent. They didn’t waste any time displaying why they are considered one of the Public League teams to watch this season, dominating Orr 48-0 at Gately Stadium on Thursday.

Morgan Park quarterback Benjamin Little, a junior, was 9-for-10 for 173 yards and three touchdowns.

“I felt good, just went out there and got in the rhythm,” Little said. “Everything felt very comfortable.”

Little connected with eight different receivers, most of them underclassmen as well.

“It makes my job much easier, having all those guys to throw to,” Little said. “I just let them go to work. They tell me to just give them a chance and believe in them.”

Little started two games last year before getting injured and missing the rest of the season. Junior running back Maurzel Smith (six carries, 41 yards) was a contributor on varsity last season. He scored a two-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.

“It just felt good being back out here after the long off-season,” Smith said. “It was kind of frustrating just scrimmaging last week, so we were ready to play.”

Sophomore Kyel Grover, a 6-3 wide receiver, was an eye-opening talent. He caught two passes for 47 yards, including an 18-yard TD.

“[Grover] has a lot of energy and a lot of aggression,” Morgan Park coach Terry Atkins said. “We are trying to capitalize on that, let him go after some jump balls and make himself more recruitable.”

Atkins, a 2001 Morgan Park graduate, led the Mustangs to a 7-4 mark last season. The losses were all to quality teams: Richards, Thornton, Mount Carmel and North Lawndale.

“The future is very bright,” Atkins said. “When you have a very talented group of young players like we do, you want to get them so reps, get them some game experience. We have it on offense and defense. Some seniors are in key positions on defense, but we make sure to rotate the younger guys in.”

Tight end/defensive end Steven Hawthorne and running back/cornerback Donavon Earls were two other standout sophomores for Morgan Park (2-0).

“A lot of our juniors played varsity last year,” Atkins said. “And our sophomore team went undefeated last year and played Mount Carmel very well. From that alone I knew they could do somethings for us on varsity this season.”

Orr (1-1), which beat Hyde Park 28-14 last week, was led by senior quarterback Shamari Wilson (11 carries, 37 yards).

Morgan Park will have one of its toughest tests of the season next week against Curie. The Condors have been one of the city’s most successful and consistent teams over the past few seasons.

“I think we’ll be comfortable against them, we just have to practice hard,” Grover said. “I like the bigger games. It’ll help us know where we stand.”

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