Utica Eisenhower coach Chris Smith is thankful to have an athlete like Jack Morris, a player capable of moving to multiple positions and playing them all at a high level.
Morris, a senior, was put in at QB after a Week 7 injury to standout Max Wittwer (knee) and has delivered to help Eisenhower — 11-0 and ranked No. 3 in The Detroit News Super 20 poll — to a Division 1 district championship. Morris found Ben Mets for a 45-yard touchdown pass with 1:30 left to give Eisenhower a 10-6 district win over Rochester Adams on Friday night.
“Jack Morris is a great player who starts at corner and played receiver and running back for us before Max’s injury,” Smith said. “We attack in a lot of ways and Jack’s a dual-threat quarterback, can run and throw and he’s great in our system. He has made some great decisions and really could be a starter and most schools.”
Morris is the son of a coach, former Macomb Dakota offensive coordinator Brad Morris, who worked with former longtime Dakota head coach Mike Giannona in helping Dakota win consecutive state championships in 2006 and ’07.
When Giannone took over the head coaching job at Warren De La Salle, Morris left for Eisenhower, along with his son.
Now, Morris will try and help Eisenhower repeat as regional champion. Eisenhower advanced to the state semifinals last year before falling to Detroit Cass Tech on a touchdown catch by Donovan Peoples-Jones (Michigan) in the final minute.
Eisenhower will play host to a West Bloomfield team which has won nine straight after an 0-2 start, and now is living up to its preseason ranking of No. 4 in The News Super 20 poll.
“Our defense has been playing great, our defense has played well against the run all year,” Smith said. “West Bloomfield is a more-balanced team, has a great quarterback (Bryce Veasley) and those two Wisconsin-bound receivers (Taj Mustapha, A.J. Abbott) on the outside. We’re going to have to get a pass rush going.”
Eisenhower’s defense — led by 6-foot-5, 225-pound senior defensive end Henry Janeway (Army), who has 15 tackles for loss, including 11 sacks, and middle linebacker Alex Decker and defensive tackle Ryan Beltz — has limited opponents to an average of 9.5 points, earning postseason wins over Utica (52-0) and Adams (10-6).
West Bloomfield rolling
Ron Bellamy has done an excellent job as West Bloomfield head coach, guiding the program to its first state playoff win in 2014 and its second last season, and now its first district championship with a 41-7 win over Waterford Mott on Friday.
“It’s a surreal feeling, I’m so proud of our kids,” Bellamy said. “We have a tough challenge in front of us.”
West Bloomfield is averaging 48 points during its last six games.
West Bloomfield showed its balanced attack agianst Mott, with running back Collin Heard rushing for 154 yards (19 carries) and two TDs while Bowling Green-bound quarterback Bryce Veasley was 12-of-18 passing for 139 yards and a TD.
Veasley had thrown for 2,873 yards and 24 TDs with A.J. Abbott and Taj Mustapha as his main weapons.
“We can run the ball as well, over 200 yards (in district final),” said Bellamy, noting Heard topped the 1,000-yard mark in the win. “Our offensive line that includes Central Michigan commit Javon Foster, Maxwell Green and Blake Barnes are big and athletic. They love to work and have a great coach in John Garrett.”
Foster is 6-6, 290 pounds; Green stands 6-3 and 275; and Barnes, 6-1, 255.
Detroit King — 10-1 and ranked No. 4 — had no problem in winning its third consecutive district championship with a 46-11 win over No. 12 Detroit East English on Friday.
It was King’s second win over East English in the past three weeks.
King is ready for a run which could well find it at Ford Field Nov. 24 playing a third straight Division 2 state championship. It will play host to Ypsilanti Lincoln at 6 p.m. Friday.
“We have a goal in mind,” said Tyrone Spencer, King’s second-year head coach. “Last year, I had to make them believe it since they didn’t see it. This year, they know what to expect, especially since some guys were here back in 2015.
King won the state title in 2015 with a senior dominated team loaded with big-time Division I recruits, then was a surprise repeat winner last season. It returned a number of top players this year which includes receiver/cornerback Jaeveyon Morton (Iowa State), junior quarterback DeQuan Finn and four-star junior safety Marvin Grant, who has offers from Michigan and Notre Dame.
Two more top-10 teams went down to defeat with district-final losses, including No. 1 Belleville falling to No. 14 Canton, 28-25, in Division 1 and No. 8 Muskegon Mona Shores a 28-21 upset victim to Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central in Division 2.
And don’t forget Ypsilanti Lincoln defeating No. 11 Wyandotte, 21-19, to earn its first district title.
Derek Thomason rushed for 127 yards on 13 carries and scored three touchdowns, including a 7-yard TD following Matt Moorer’s 51-yard return on the opening kickoff, then a 70-yard TD run to open up a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
Lincoln piled up 312 yards on the ground (35 attempts) with QB Cam Thompson joining Thomason as a 100-yard rusher with 118 yards on 13 carries.
… Greg Carter will be trying to pick up his first regional championship in his seven-year coaching career at Oak Park (8-3), which won its first district title since 2012 on Friday with a 34-14 victory over Birmingham Brother Rice.
A regional championship will be much tougher, with a showdown against Catholic League champion Warren De La Salle (9-2) at Wayne State.
Carter won four state championships with Detroit DePorres, and guided Inkster to three title-game appearances.
Dates and times to be announced
■Clarkston (9-2) vs. Holland West Ottawa (10-1)
■Detroit Catholic Central (7-4) vs. Canton (10-1)
■Detroit Cass Tech (8-2) vs. Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (10-1)
■West Bloomfield (9-2) vs. Utica Eisenhower (11-0)
■Traverse City Central (8-3) vs. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (11-0)
■Flushing (9-2) vs. Livonia Franklin (9-2)
■Ypsilanti Lincoln (9-2) vs. Detroit King (10-1)
■Oak Park (9-2) vs. Warren De La Salle (9-2), at Wayne State
■DeWitt (10-1) vs. Muskegon (11-0)
■East Lansing (9-2) vs. Battle Creek Harper Creek (11-0)
■Riverview (10-1) vs. Dearborn Divine Child (10-1)
■Farmington Hills Harrison (8-3) vs. Linden (9-2)
■Williamston (7-4) vs. Escanaba (9-2)
■Belding (9-2) vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (11-0)
■Lansing Sexton (8-3) vs. Edwardsburg (10-1)
■River Rouge (9-2) vs. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook (10-1)
■Menominee (8-3) vs. Reed City (10-1)
■Muskegon Oakridge (9-2) vs. Saginaw Swan Valley (10-1)
■Grand Rapids West Catholic (9-2) vs. Portland (10-1)
■Algonac (10-1) vs. Frankenmuth (11-0)
■Traverse City St. Francis (10-1) vs. Millington (10-1)
■Ithaca (11-0) vs. Montague (11-0)
■Jackson Lumen Christi (9-1) vs. Watervliet (11-0)
■Blissfield (7-4) vs. Warren Michigan Collegiate (11-0)
■Breckenridge (10-1) vs. Lake City (11-0)
■Pewamo-Westphalia (10-1) vs. Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (10-1)
■Saugatuck (8-3) vs. Cassopolis (10-1)
■Monroe SMCC (7-4) vs Madison Heights Madison (11-0)
■Frankfort (8-2) vs. Iron River West Iron County (10-1)
■Lincoln Alcona (9-2) vs. Saginaw Nouvel (11-0)
■Climax-Scotts (9-2) vs. Mendon (11-0)
■Clarkston Everest Collegiate (9-2) vs. Ottawa Lake Whiteford (11-0)