Morton will have a new football coach for the 2020 season.
Sean Kinsey resigned from the Governors’ program on Tuesday, and it wasn’t a surprise to the school or its players. When he accepted a position as the dean of students at Hammond in September, Kinsey was forthcoming about the possibility that this year could be his last on the sidelines.
Still, he held out hope that somehow he could keep leading a program that went through a remarkable turnaround under his leadership. But since Hammond administrators aren’t allowed to coach, Kinsey ultimately chose what was best for him and his family.
“I had four seasons, so this year’s senior class was my first freshman class,” Kinsey said. “I’m just extremely proud of what those kids have been able to accomplish. We had a bittersweet end to our season, but it isn’t over.
“They know I’m still going to be a part of their story moving forward.”
Morton’s year came to a close in a 42-21 loss to Hobart at home in the Class 4A Sectional 17 opener, and the defeat also marked the end of quarterback Credell Prather Jr.’s career. The senior was sidelined for seven of the team’s 10 games due to a right wrist injury but came back for the postseason.
Although Prather couldn’t lead the Governors back to the sectional title game, he is grateful for the opportunity Kinsey gave him and his willingness to go above and beyond for his players. During his junior campaign, Prather emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the Region with 22 passing touchdowns and six rushing scores.
“Coach Kinsey did a lot of stuff that you guys don’t’ see,” Prather said. “He took us to camps, and some coaches don’t do that with their programs. I feel like that helped me and everybody as far as a team-building scenario. Also, he always stayed on our grades and made sure we were doing what we gotta do in the classroom.”
The senior will continue his career at Marian University and added that playing at the next level wouldn’t have been possible without Kinsey. Morton went 4-7 during Prather’s freshman season but have gone 25-8 over the past three years, including three straight outright Great Lakes Athletic Conference titles.
“Looking back to my freshman year, it was tough when he was coming in,” Prather said. “But he really bonded with us, and we’ve been through so much with him as a coach. It just brought us closer as a team, and the whole way coach Kinsey kept us motivated.
"From four years ago, I think we came a long way.”
Aside from his own career, Prather also believes the increased success of the program has helped other players on the team, too. Junior wide receiver JoJo Johnson, who is one of the most dynamic athletes in the Region, has landed scholarship offers from several Division I programs including Toledo, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois.
This year, Kinsey used Johnson in a variety of ways, and he excelled in whatever role he adopted. The junior recorded 19 catches for 286 yards and two touchdowns, 43 carries for 423 yards and nine scores and tied for the team-high with six interceptions — highlighted by two pick-sixes.
“He used to bring us spaghetti on homes games, even though it wasn’t that good,” Johnson said with a laugh. “But he’s very down to earth, and he would talk to you about anything. Problems you have in your house, school problems, anything.”
Kinsey said he’s always had a passion for mentoring and uplifting students, and he’s excited to see what his new role at Hammond will bring. However, the 2005 Merrillville graduate wouldn’t rule out another coaching stint in the future.
“My son is old enough next year to play 5-year-old football,” Kinsey said. “That may be my soonest return. I won’t say never. It just depends on how things play out.”