The Morton Panthers ended what was an up-and-down season under first year head coach Sean Gerald. After finishing third in Region 5, the Panthers were tasked with traveling to Camden to take on Velma Jackson (7-4) in the opening round of the MHSAA Class 3A state playoffs.
Velma Jackson scored early and often on their way to a resounding 54-6 victory over the visiting Panthers last Friday night. The loss ended the season for a young Morton team that showed improvement over last season, but still has a ways to go to make a playoff run.
“The season did not go exactly like we wanted it to, but I saw growth on this team that will make us better in the future,” Coach Gerald said. “We saw growth all year long, we saw leadership, players encouraging one another, and players giving everything they could possibly give us, and that proves we are moving in the right direction for the future of Morton Football.”
Velma Jackson got off to a hot start against the Panthers scoring 21 unanswered points in the first quarter. The overmatched Panthers did not have an answer as they were shut out in the first half.
On offense, Morton was led by sophomore standout Robert Jennings who was held to under 100 yards rushing for one of the few times this season. Jennings had 12 carries for 68 yards on the night.
The Panthers lone highlight of the night, and only touchdown, came when Joe Laster took a kickoff 80-yards for a score. Laster gained 110 yards on two kickoff returns and provided the only points for the visiting team.
The Panthers finish the 2019 with a 4-8 record and a third-place district finish. Coach Gerald said the team started on work for next season the day after the playoff loss.
Morton’s roster only included four seniors and 16 upper-classman. The young team will return most, if not all, of its impact players next season.