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Note: Morgan finished with a 7-3 overall record and was third in Region 11 with a 4-2 record in 2011. It lost to Spanish Fork, 35-20, in the first round of the 3A playoffs.
MORGAN — The fate of Morgan’s football team was sealed in Week 4 last year when, as coach Kovi Christiansen put it, “Grantsville snuck up on us.” An overtime loss to Grantsville and subsequent loss to Region 11 champion Stansbury dropped Morgan down to the No. 3 seed heading into the postseason.
Road teams rarely win in the first round of the 3A playoffs, so it was no surprise to see Morgan ousted by Spanish Fork.
Heading into the 2012 season, Christiansen said simply, “We’ve got to be in the Top 2.”
The Trojans are counting on great team speed to help them get there.
“I feel like we have more speed than we’ve had in a long time,” said Christiansen. “It will be nice to have that speed on offense and defense.”
As nice as that speed will be in the Double Wing-T offense, Christiansen expects to see a greater benefit defensively.
“When you have more team speed you’re obviously better off, especially how football is now these days. It’s not so much run it down your throat it’s about trying to beat you to spots. We’ll have 11 quick-enough, athletic-enough guys. We should do pretty good on defense. It should look like a swarm out there,” said Christiansen.
Only time will tell if it's enough to hold off Grantsville and then challenge Stansbury for the region title.
Lantzen Toomer, one of the team’s leading rushers a year ago, is optimistic Morgan can take care of business.
“We have a lot of returning linemen back and all four running backs, so I feel like we have a really good chance of taking the region. Hopefully we’ll live up to the hype,” said Toomer.
Morgan’s top-four running backs last year combined to rush for 2,426 yards, and incredibly they’re all back. Kade Carrigan led the way in yardage with 773 yards and seven touchdowns. Bridger Anderson added 659 yards and 11 TDs. Toomer chipped in with 632 yards and six TDs, and Joseph Kippen made an impact with 362 yards and seven TDs.
Christiansen loves what each running back brings to the table.
“Lantzen’s a kid who’s never really going to get off the field. He’s just an all-around athlete, knowledgeable and just has great footwork. All those Toomer kids have had great footwork,” he said.
Anderson is a powerful yet fast athlete who enjoyed a strong season on the track last spring.
“He has good footwork, but he’ll run you over if you’re not ready,” said Christiansen.
Carrigan and Kippen are quick shifty kids who can make plays from anywhere on the field.
Junior Ben Saunders takes over at quarterback, and he’s an athletic kid who’s had a good summer.
Bryce Fern and Kyle Stapley are the lone returning starters on the line, but they’re big kids who should be even better with a year under their belts. The newcomers aren’t as big though, and like any coach, Christiansen wishes he had more size in the trenches.
Being a bit undersized, however, is usually the norm in Morgan.
“We’re usually not too big. One thing we do have is our kids usually know how to work. They compete. Even though we’re usually outsized, they play hard and don’t give up,” said Christiansen.