HAMMOND | When D'Jari Griffin was 10, he was playing a game of Uno with his mother. Both are extremely competitive souls.
Latkissua Davis beat Griffin, now a senior at Morton. He didn't think she won fair and square. So he opened his mouth in protest.
"I said that she cheated me," Griffin said. "So she whipped me because I was yelling."
Over the last three autumns in Hessville, Griffin and Governors coach Roy Richards have gotten into it from time to time. Both are extremely competitive, too.
"I've kicked him off the team three or four times," Richards said with a chuckle. "But he always ends up back here."
Before the Hobart game last year, Griffin would not let an issue go during practice. Voices were raised. So Richards walked over and took the pads off his 6-foot, 180-pound do-everything player.
"He told me to transfer to Gavit," Griffin said. "So I told him if I transferred to Gavit that I would beat him because I'm that good."
Such bravado is backed up by Griffin's play on the field so far. He had two touchdown receptions in Week 1 against Griffith. The following week he caught more than 100 yards in receiving against Lowell.
He had 95 yards through the air against Highland last Friday.
Griffin is like an urban version of Lowell's Cole Midgett. He, too, does everything for his team.
"He's the biggest competitor that we've got," Richards said of the young man that everyone in the Morton camp calls "D.J." "He is our most multi-purpose player on both offense and defense. We don't have a player in our program who tries any harder than he does. He just hates to lose."
Griffin is a rarity in today's world. He is a true three-sport athlete, also playing basketball and baseball. His drive to compete made his girlfriend upset last spring.
Morton drew E.C. Central in the baseball sectional. The game was scheduled to play on the night of Morton's prom. With the Govs up 2-1 in the middle of the game, several Morton players left and took a mini-bus up to the dance.
Griffin kept his spikes on and finished out the game.
"We were winning, it was too close of a game," he said. "So I didn't go until it was done. I can dance any other time."
The kid with a sarcastic sense of humor hopes to be a police officer one day. With two younger brothers, he's spent a lot of hours protecting them and believes that would be a great way to make a living.
Over the summer many were talking about how Morton would be the team to beat. But a one-point win over Griffith followed by a loss at Lowell has many wondering how good this team is.
But like a game of Uno around the kitchen table, Griffin is ready to keep playing.
"We haven't fallen off at all," he said. "We have a lot of talent no one knows about. You'll see (tonight) against Munster and into the sectionals. There's nothing wrong with our team."