Morris set to open playoffs against Rich East
After last week's loss to Kaneland in what amounted to the Northern Illinois Big 12 East championship, the Morris football team will try to regroup this week at the onset of postseason action. The Redskins will take on Rich East this Saturday in a 5A playoff game at home starting at 1 p.m.
Rich East finished the regular season with a 6-3 record out of the Southland Conference and the Rockets have been coached for the past seven seasons by Barry Reade.
"Rich East is an athletic team. I'm a little familiar with coach Reade having coached with him from (Plainfield) South," Morris coach Alan Thorson said. "I'm aware of his system and the offense that he runs.
On film it looks like they have some big linemen and they definitely have some team speed. But there are things that we see that we feel pretty good about that our offense and defense can exploit."
In seven seasons at Rich East, Reade's teams have compiled a record of 40-28. Previous to that, he coached at Plainfield South where his teams posted marks of 0-9 in 2003 and 2-7 in 2004 before he was replaced with Mike Briscoe.
"Offensively, they are a double-wing team. Similar to Geneseo where coach Reade's dad (Bob) was at. They've kept the same offense the whole time," Thorson said. "They also run a spread and will even come out in a Hawaii look to try and get their athletes out into space."
When the Rockets are on offense, the key backs appear to be Nick Horne and Kenneth Naylor. Naylor had a 57-yard run in the final game against Crete Monee. Quarterback Malcolm Miller had a 4-yard TD run. Horne is a 6-1, 197-pound back who also doubles as a wide receiver and linebacker.
The Rockets have averaged 199 points in the nine games this season for a 22-points per game average.
"They like to run a lot, so we want to stop the run," Morris quarterback Zach Cinnamon said.
When Rich East is on defense, the team has several looks it will present to the Redskins.
"We've pretty much got all spread defenses on them, which makes it difficult because we won't really see what kind of defense they will use when we are in I-(formation) or T," Thorson said. "But I think they are going to come at us with a 3-5. Similar to what we saw out of Kaneland."
According to Cinnamon, the Morris offense needs simply be focused on getting the ball into the end zone.
"We want to get the ball in the end zone a lot," he said. "We want to get Reese (Sobol) into space, which helps the offense get moving."
The Rich East defense has allowed 187 points this season in nine games for a 20.7 points per game.
After two weeks on the road, Morris will finally get the chance to play in front of the home crowd once again.
"We're excited about being at home. We've been on the road for the last two weeks, going to Rochelle and Kaneland, and those are tough places to play," Thorson said. "Getting the first week, home playoff game, is exciting. I know the kids are excited. It's playoff time, and that's something to be excited about."
Cinnamon says it nice to be playing his first postseason game ever in front of friendly faces.
"It's nice to play at home in the playoffs," he said. "We feel more comfortable playing in front of the home crowd with a playoff atmosphere. It's like a regular game, there's just more on the line."
About the only thing out of the ordinary to get adjusted to, according to Friend, is the Saturday game day.
"We're excited for the game to be at home," Friend said. "It's on Saturday, so we'll have to get used to that. It's something different for us, but it gives us another day to prepare."