EAGLE POINT — For someone like Cameron Morgan, every game this season for Eagle Point’s football team has been precious.
Sure, Friday’s Midwestern League clash at Crater is one everyone at each school circles on the calendar for its rivalry implications, but Morgan has more than just the Comets on his mind these days.
As a senior, the 6-foot, 170-pound quarterback and defensive back knows how precious each game can be and how fleeting his time left on the football field may be this year. Morgan missed half of his junior season after being sidelined by mononucleosis and an enlarged spleen, so each day this year has been something special.
“It’s kind of hard to keep everybody serious with how much fun we’re having these days,” says Morgan, “but for the seniors it’s pretty easy to realize that this is the last time we’re ever going to play Crater, and last week was the last time we’re ever going to play Churchill. You don’t get these chances when they’re gone.”
This chance Friday, however, stands to be pretty important for each side. Eagle Point enters the game with a 4-2 overall record and 1-2 mark in the MWL, while the Comets are seeking a chance to wrap up a state playoff berth at 4-2 and 3-0.
The MWL will send five teams to the Class 5A state playoffs, with Week 9 matchups pitting the No. 1 teams from the North and South divisions against one another and so on down the list to determine the top five — meaning that third-place matchup will be a winner-take-all to the playoffs but the top two teams in each division will mostly be battling to improve state power rankings.
“There’s a lot at stake here and a lot on the line for both of our schools,” says Eagle Point head coach Seth Womack, “so they’re going to bring their ‘A’ game. We’re going to get the best Crater and they’re going to get the best of us. It’s going to be fun, I’m excited for it.”
Let’s face it though, even if state playoff implications weren’t on the line, the game still would be one to watch. The Comets have won three of the last four meetings since returning from the 6A level, although it was Eagle Point that won in 2016, 25-13, in the last meeting at Dutch Meyer Field.
“With the reshuffling of the 4A, 5A, 6A, a lot of those rivalries have been lost over time,” says Womack. “This is one of the long-standing rivalries that’s still around and thriving, and it’s deep-rooted dislike I guess if you want to call it that.”
“No matter how much we say we want to take them one week at a time, this one is always in the back of everybody’s head,” adds the coach. “Now we’re here and we’re all excited for it, for sure.”
Count Morgan in on that, and he’s hoping to do whatever he can to help ensure that he gets a few extra games this season after missing the first five games of last year.
“That was a bad situation, it really sucked,” says the 17-year-old standout. “I’m having a lot of fun out here this year, though. Hopefully we get some more games in the playoffs, that would be amazing to make up for a few of the games I missed last year.”
Morgan has certainly done his part to set the Eagles up for that opportunity.
The second-year starter has passed for nearly 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns and run for nearly 200 yards through six games, piloting an Eagle Point offense that is averaging 451 yards and 40 points per game.
“He really is kind of the heart and soul of what we do,” says Womack of Morgan. “He’s always helping someone out there, and he’s just such a good kid.”
“He’s a kid that has waited his turn and sat behind a couple good quarterbacks and just constantly gotten better and better and better,” adds the coach. “He’s always stayed positive, and even when he wasn’t starting and playing he was always a good leader and always encouraging and bringing his teammates along.”
To wit, Morgan credits his teammates for the success he’s had thus far. With an ever-improving offensive line protecting him, the Eagles have been able to utilize the senior’s passing ability to the likes of seniors Noah Page and Eric Parliament as well as lean on a running game that is powered by sophomore standout Devin Bradd.
“I’ve got a lot of really good guys around me,” says Morgan. “It’s pretty fun and exciting to watch them play.”
Bradd has run for 811 yards and 13 TDs and caught six passes for 149 yards and two scores, while Page has turned 35 receptions into 861 yards and 11 scores and Parliament has been a big-play threat with 216 yards and two TDs on only four catches.
“We’re rolling pretty good right now,” says Morgan. “Hopefully this week we can do better than we were last week. We put up a lot of points against Churchill (in a 61-40 loss) but our defense just wasn’t there last week. Hopefully we can take what we had last week offensively over to this week and keep putting up points.”
It certainly won’t be easy, with Crater always a threat at home featuring a defense that has forced 13 turnovers and often has immediately turned those takeaways into points. The Comets also feature an offense, sparked by junior Trever Davis and running backs Gavin Acrey and Tony Flores, that is averaging nearly 356 yards and 38 points per game.
Coming off a game that was closer than the final score indicated against second-ranked Churchill, the Eagles expect to carry some confidence into Friday’s meeting with the Comets.
“It just really showed what we can do and what we were able to put out against one of the best teams in the state,” says Morgan of EP’s performance against the Lancers. “Last week was kind of a jump-start for us again, and hopefully we keep it up.”