HAMMOND | The entrance to Maury Zlotnik Field greeted entrants to Friday’s game with a message that read, “Welcome to Our Magic Kingdom.”
The theme pertained to the homecoming festivities of the week, but it didn’t stop the home team from playing magically on Friday night.
The host Governors used a spell of un-tackle-ability and another for super speed in the first quarter on the way to 28 points on their first 12 plays during a 47-14 drubbing of young, visiting Gavit in the regular-season and Great Lakes Athletic Conference finale.
Seven different players got into the end zone for the Governors, who racked up 375 yards rushing despite no offensive plays from scrimmage in the third quarter due to the running clock in the second half.
“It’s one of those things where we’re kind of on a roll, and they’re struggling a little bit, so you can kind of see where everybody stands,” Morton coach Roy Richards said. “This was a good way to get out of here and get some confidence and get some guys on the field and stay healthy and get ready for the payoffs.”
Morton hosts E.C. Central in the sectional opener next week. The Govs beat E.C. 19-6 on Sept. 27, the last time Devin McHenry played for Morton.
Injured against the Cardinals, McHenry came back Friday to lead the Governors with 147 yards on five carries. His 76-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter accounted for the final score.
McHenry’s run was one of three one-play drives mounted by the Governors.
Freddy Creater’s 65-yard TD run and Mark Snorton’s 27-yard scoring sprint, both in the first quarter, were the others.
Darius Coty (20-yard reception), Kenneth Coleman (11-yard run), Jarrett Dickey (60-yard punt return) and Andrew Key also scored for Morton.
Although they were not league champions last year, the Governors (8-1, 3-0) have always used the Great Lakes Athletic Conference as a magical kingdom with four consecutive outright titles. The sectional and regional champs of a year ago ended the 2103 regular season with what they hope is the start of another string of GLAC crowns.
“It’s frustrating to us because we have such a tough schedule and we’ve been winning sectionals, and then you get a hiccup in the road and a conference team beats you, and it really stings,” Richards said. “You can’t look past winning your conference. Sometimes you start looking past it and these guys get you. It is important for our kids, and it’s really nice for our school.
“It’s important to take care of your own backyard.”
The Gladiators (2-7, 0-3) took solace in a solid third quarter that saw them take all the snaps in the quarter.
After backup quarterback David Ramirez connected with senior Miles Brooks for a 37-yard touchdown and subsequent two-point conversion, Gavit recovered a muffed kickoff and drove to the 20 before stalling and turning the ball over on downs.
Brooks’ father was murdered last year, and the touchdown was the first of his career.
“He was always playing for his dad,” Gavit coach Robert Robinson said. “I couldn’t be happier for him to get that touchdown. It’s always something special when you see the look on a kid’s face when they get that first touchdown.”
Senior Paris Bradley, who scored on a 36-yard run late in the second quarter, also earned his first career touchdown.
Before Bradley’s run, Gavit had negative rushing yardage for the game. The Glads ran for 80 and passed for 65 Friday.
Gavit was missing more than 600 pounds of flesh on its defensive line with senior Andre Rhea out with concussion-like symptoms and Kacey Woods serving a one-game suspension for being ejected last week against Hammond High.
Their absence helped Morton run wild on just 29 carries. The Govs only passed twice and never punted.
“It feels good,” Richards said. “It feels good to be at home and win, and, man, let’s get going with these playoffs.”