MORRIS — Last football season, Morris finished second in Class 4A to Rochester, losing a 24-21 decision on a last-second field goal to the Rockets, who won their seventh title in the last eight years.
This year, with early projections landing the Redskins in Class 4A again, Morris has its hopes set on bringing home a slightly bigger trophy.
Morris kicked off its summer team camp Monday, which will end the summer portion of its season before the IHSA season officially begins on Aug. 6.
The Redskins spent the first month of the summer lifting weights and conditioning, with the skill position players also taking part in 7-on-7 camps and clinics. The team was also able to practice together as a full unit during the summer.
Despite the loss of a strong group of seniors from last year's team, the current group of Redskins has impressed coach Alan Thorson throughout the summer months.
"We have had a good summer," Thorson said. "For our 7-on-7 portion, we have been all over. We went to University of St. Francis, we went to a big tournament at Oswego East where we went 3-1-1, we had a day at Plainfield South where we played Plainfield South, Joliet West and Waubonsie Valley and beat them all And, we had Plano and Wilmington come and play against us here.
"We like to do that every summer. We always try to go against some bigger schools and see that 7A and 8A speed that we'll see in our conference. It helps us get ready for the season."
With the loss of leading rusher Kameron Dransfeldt, offensive linemen Nolan Feeney, Nathan Korte, Noah McCorkhill and Brennan Goff and wide receiers Tyler Spiezio and Payton Voitik, the leadership role on offense will most likely fall on returning starting quarterback Mitchell Mayberry, as well as running back Chatten Dryfhout and offensive lineman Dylan Swartz.
"Mitch had a real good summer," Thorson said. "He has spent a lot of time in the weight room getting stronger and improving his arm strength. He has worked on reading the defense and he has gotten a lot better at that, too. He had a nice year last year, but I think he is ready to step up and have a big year this year.
"Chatten got more and more carries as the year went on last year and scored 10 touchdowns for us. He will be a big part of our offense this year. And, it's Dylan Swartz's third year as a varsity starter for us in the line. We lost a lot from the line, but having Dylan back is a great place to start."
The IHSA allows 25 contact days between coaches and players during the summer, so the Morris staff builds the camp into that.
"It's nice to have all the units together," Thorson said. "The skill guys have a lot of time during 7-on-7, but this camp gets everyone together. We have two practices a day, and it's a time when we can clean up what we have been trying to put together at all our other summer stuff.
"It's a nice way to get some conditioning in, and it's also a good team bonding thing that we like to do, too."
Thorson also noted that the offense may be a bit ahead of the defense at this point of the season.
"We have more new faces on defense than we do on offense this year," he said. "Our defensive backfield is pretty solid with some guys returning. We stil have some spots up in the air at other positions, but we have a lot of guys who can do it. We just have to figure out who it's going to be."