Running back Kindrel Morris helps Larkin thrive after offense hits reset button

Friday, 22 September 2017, 08:54:35 AM. Reboot gives Kindrel Morris and the Royals a better offensive focus heading into their showdown with Geneva.

Larkin running back Kindrel Morris simply wasn't seeing it correctly.

Instead of visiting an optometrist, Morris and his teammates on offense returned to a proverbial place no one likes to go to called square one.

A 298-yard rushing effort by Morris in last week's 22-20 victory over West Chicago left Larkin (2-2, 0-1) in good shape for a highly anticipated game at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Geneva (2-2, 1-1) at Elgin's Memorial Field.

"I just read it better last week and wasn't trying to make big plays," Morris said. "I hadn't been doing what they were teaching me to do.

"When I did start reading it better, when I started making the small runs, they turned into the big runs. You have to grind, then big gains will come."

A 5-foot-8, 150-pound senior, Morris broke runs of 93 and 71 yards after coach Dragan Teonic took the Royals back to the drawing board following a 45-6 loss on Sept. 8 to St. Charles North.

"The score doesn't say it, but we were physically step for step with North and our offensive line was exceptional," Teonic said. "Afterward I told (Morris) I was unhappy with some of our reads with running backs and quarterbacks. We started all over again and decided to reinstall all our offense on Monday last week — every play.

"When we did, you'd be surprised the number of kids who said, 'Oh, that's how you do it.' Or ,'Wow, that's why we do that.' We don't have a lot of plays, anyway."

The 298 yards rank as the best total in the Elgin area this year and Morris' career high, but it's not a school record. Larkin's Vince Webber rushed for 381 yards in 1996.

Morris confirmed there are high expectations after he rushed for 1,073 yards as a junior, even though Larkin has only 15 seniors on its 49-player roster. It might have caused him to press a bit.

"We were new to it all last year — new line, new roles," Morris said. "This year our line is good. I was trying to do it all on my own, and it wasn't working."

Morris was surprised when Teonic told him he has 516 yards already this season, 130 more than in 2016 at this point.

"I think some of us were down about how we'd been playing on offense," Morris said. "We only had 14 (points) against Mundelein (to win) in the opener. But coach came to us Monday and showed us we're really ahead of where we were last year."

The defense has allowed 70 fewer yards rushing a game than last year.

"And our opponents have been better to this point — 8-8 this year and 6-10 last year," Teonic said.

Opponents find Morris difficult to track because of his ability to stop, start and accelerate from behind bigger blockers. He ran 40 yards in 4.54 seconds in a summer camp at Augustana.

Morris is also stronger than his frame suggests, and this week dead-lifted 415 pounds. It lets him run through tacklers he can't elude.

"He and KJ Redmond both dead-lifted about three times their weight," Teonic said.

Larkin is at a key juncture partly because of last year's game with Geneva. The Royals rallied from a 24-0 deficit to win 27-24 as Nate Kohler's blocked a punt and returned it 25 yards with two seconds left for a TD.

"I'm sure they feel they owe us one," Morris said. "That's history. There's nothing you can do about that now. We lost seniors, they did, and we're a new team."

Morris and the Royals are reborn since two weeks ago, let alone last season.

Their visit to square one provided the reset.

Twitter @genechamberlai2

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Article Running back Kindrel Morris helps Larkin thrive after offense hits reset button compiled by www.chicagotribune.com