When DeShawn Morrison steps on the football field, he says he wants to make plays.No matter where the 5-foot-10, 170-pound, Central Academy of Technology & Arts junior lines up – which most often is at starting running back and outside linebacker positions – he makes an impact for the Cougars.Morrison leads his team with 450 yards rushing and three touchdowns in his first four games this year. He also had a team-best 49 tackles, and 4.5 sacks and forced fumbles in that same span.“DeShawn Morrison is just a football player,” Central Academy assistant football coach, Richard Underwood, said.Underwood was filling in for head coach Tad Baucom last week, who was not available due to the death of his mother.Underwood said, “I could put (Morrison) as nose tackle and he would find a way to make plays for us. He isn’t really big or really fast, but he gets everything out of his body. He is all heart – and every team needs a player like that.”Morrison had a career-best 149 yards rushing against Union Academy, and he nabbed another 142 yards rushing and two touchdowns in a 33-6 win over Highland School of Technology.He has become the leader of a Cougars rushing attack that is averaging 232 yards per game. Teammate Sergio Gomez is a key performer in the running game as well.On a critical play against Metrolina Christian, Morrison got the ball on fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line and was immediately hit by two opposing linebackers. He bowled over both for a touchdown in what would end up a 16-13 win for his team.“I was just trying to make a play for my team,” Morrison said. “I don’t really think about how big guys are or who is hitting me. I’m not going to let one or two guys take me down.”“You are not going to stop him on first contact,” Underwood said. “At 170 pounds, you don’t find that often.”Morrison is equally determined on defense.He is averaging 12 tackles and a sack per game, with a 17-tackle effort against North Stanly in the season opener (14-0 loss) and 15-tackle game against Highland Tech.Morrison said his perspective as both a running back and linebacker helps him anticipate what an opponent might be thinking.“My focus is to find the holes and always be around the ball,” Morrison said. “I can read what a running back is thinking or where he’s looking, and anticipate if he’s coming at me or trying to cut back. When you see the whole field, I think it gives you a big advantage.”But Morrison’s career at Central Academy hasn’t been so easy.After establishing himself as a key player for the junior varsity as a freshman, Morrison earned a starting spot on the varsity team as a sophomore.He was second on the team with 96 tackles last year, also adding 315 yards rushing. But the young Cougar team learned a lot of tough lessons and took a lot of lumps in a 2-10 season.“We threw a lot of guys in the fire and got a lot on the job training,” Underwood said. “But we can already see that is paying off for us this year.”“... I learned a lot that last year and that experience on the field has really helped me become a better player,” Morrison said. “I think our whole team feels that way. We have worked well together this season.”The Cougars were 2-2 going into South Stanly game. Now they face a tough slate the rest of the way as they enter Rocky River conference play. Their schedule includes Forest Hills, Monroe, Mount Pleasant, Parkwood and West Stanly.“My coach (Tad Baucom) and I often talk about ‘to whom much is given, much is required,’” Morrison said. “So I try to apply that to everything I do in school – on the football field, in the weight room and in everything I do. I want be a part of helping this team establish a winning tradition and getting the respect we deserve.”
Tuesday, Sep. 24, 2013
CATA junior’s determination impacts football team
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at email@example.com.
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