HAMMOND | Elvis was once young, sexy and caught every eye as he danced in the middle of the stage. Then, he got fat and died.
Morton, once the Kings of 4A football in the region, came into the 2012 season with high hopes. The jump suit was spit-shined. Then, they became a junk of churning shove.
For the first time since 2008, Morton started the season 0-2.
For the first time since 2007, Morton lost a game to Hammond.
For the first time since 2004, Morton finished the regular season below .500 at 4-5.
All this after three straight seasons where the Govs had an 11-1 record at one point in the year.
"It was bad," Morton senior quarterback Jimmy Glidewell said. "We weren't playing as a team. We were making too many mistakes."
After a 35-13 loss to Hobart in Week 8, Morton went to Graceland.
"I think in the back of our minds we were thinking maybe this isn't going to happen," Morton coach Roy Richards said. "After the Hobart game we did a lot of soul searching. Guys said what they had to say. Captains got called out for not doing their job.
"Then, we thought maybe we could change it, maybe we could get better."
The four games since, Morton has scored 182 points and only given up 50. Last Friday's 34-0 win over Highland gave Hessville High its fourth straight sectional championship.
Friday Morton (7-5) will travel to Mishawaka (9-3) for the regional championship.
"Having been through what we've been through I think winning this sectional this way makes it the best of all," Richards said. "No one picked us to win. We were off everybody's radar. But our kids never quit."
Now, it's a huge game against the Cavemen. Mishawaka is 3-0 against region teams. It beat Portage 57-42 in Week 1, Lowell 27-0 in the sectional opener and Hobart 49-28 in the semifinal.
Morton lost to both Lowell and Hobart this season.
"We can make no mistakes, no turnovers," Glidewell said. "We can't do that. They are very disciplined. At the beginning of the season we were throwing all the time. It wasn't working.
"We decided we were going to run in the playoffs and that's what we've done."
Morton won't be picked by many to win this game. There are no blips on the radar. Just like two years ago when the Govs went over to Concord in the regional and Morton pounded out a 46-13 win.
"We just have to believe in ourselves," Glidewell said. "Because of our seniors we all played in all the playoff games, even Dwenger (at semistate). We are used to playing in these kind of games, we're experienced.
"I believe that we can do this."