EAST CHICAGO | Morton coach Roy Richards told his players all week leading up to their sectional semifinal matchup with Times No. 9 E.C. Central that experience would be a key factor.
The three-time defending sectional champs proved Friday night that they were not planning on going anywhere soon, putting on a dominant performance in a 50-28 win over the Cardinals in Class 4A Sectional 9.
Morton did nearly all of their damage in the running game. The Governors outgained E.C. Central on the ground 252-13 in the first half alone, and finished with 387.
They were paced by a trio of 100-yard rushers: senior Eleazar Henderson ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns, senior Kendall Huff ran for 103 and a score and junior Torey Armstrong added 102 and two scores.
Richards said the game plan was to stay on the ground throughout the night.
“We know (E.C. Central) is good and they have a lot of talent, but they had not seen anything like what Morton does,” he said. “All week it was live running. We barely threw the ball at all in practice.”
Despite struggling on offense, the Cardinals went into halftime down just 29-21.
The dagger came in the third quarter, when the Governors put up three unanswered touchdowns.
The Cardinals were not without some highlights of their own. Junior running back Marayveus Carter managed to score in all three phases: a 1-yard touchdown run, a 69-yard touchdown run on a fumble recovery, and a 96-yard kickoff return.
Cardinals safety LaRunte Fairley also came up just shy of his fifth pick six of the season on an interception return that was stopped inches from the goal line. Had he gotten into the end zone, he would have claimed the national record for interception returns for touchdowns in one season.
Morton moves on to host Highland in the sectional championship game next Friday. Richards said his team did not plan on giving up their long-held crown anytime soon.
“We’re still wearing the belt,” he said. “I don’t care what our record is or what obstacles we have had to go through.”