MORRIS – For the first time this season, the Morris football team is preparing for a game after a loss.
And that may not necessarily be a bad thing, coach Alan Thorson said.
“Hopefully, we will use this last game as a wake-up call,” Thorson said, referring to Friday night’s 20-14 loss to Kaneland. “At 6-1, we are only halfway through what we want our season to be. To win a state title, you have to play 14 games, and we have played seven.
“One loss isn’t going to kill us, but it will if we don’t learn from the mistakes we made that led to that loss.”
Making the road a bit tougher for the Redskins in this week’s game against Sycamore is the fact that two starters – quarterback Mitchell Mayberry and receiver/defensive back Payton Voitik – were injured in Friday night’s loss and will not play for a while. Mayberry is slated to miss three to five weeks, Thorson said, while Voitik appears to be out 2-3 weeks.
Sophomore Zach Reddinger will take over the quarterback duties. He played in the fourth quarter of last week’s game and completed 1 of 5 passes for 16 yards.
He also displayed some good running ability, a trait the Redskins hope to use to their advantage.
“Zach isn’t that passer that Mitch is,” Thorson said. “But he can throw pretty well. He does give us a more mobile option at quarterback and we might use him that way.
“He did a nice job of coming in off the bench Friday. This week, he will have a whole week of practice with us, so that should help him get used to the speed of the game at the varsity level.”
Sycamore enters the game with a 3-4 record, needing to win the remainder of its games in order to qualify for the playoffs.
They have played virtually even with their opponents, scoring 121 points and allowing 119. The Spartans defeated Yorkville, 7-3, last week.
“Sycamore is fighting for its life,” Thorson said. “This is a playoff game for them. Every game we play from here on out will be like a playoff game, with that type of atmosphere and urgency on the other side.
We have to be ready. Sycamore was a semifinal team last year and
it’s always tough to go up to their place.
“They have a real solid defense that keeps them in every game. They have some weapons on offense that can hurt you.”
The two main threats on offense for the Spartans are junior running back Connor Smith (5-9, 163), who carried the ball an eye-popping 44 times for 139 yards last week against Yorkville, and senior running back Peyton Wiegmann (6-3, 200), who caught a pass for Friday night’s only touchdown.
Thorson wants his team to get back to playing the type of football it did in the first six weeks.
“After last week, things seem worse than they are,” he said. “We are still fighting for a conference title, we can still get a very good playoff seed and host a game in the first round of the playoffs. We are too good of a team to play like we did last week, and we’re too good to let a game like that bring us down.
“We need to get our attitude back to where it was earlier in the year. We have seen signs of it coming back already at practice, so hopefully we will be ready to go Friday.”