Whenever we hang on to the ball, we usually win, and it’s really been about that simple for us this year. —Corey Morrison, Richfield head football coach
MORGAN — Richfield coach Corey Morrison believes as many as six of the eight teams that qualified for the state 3A playoffs is capable of winning it all. Given that belief, he sees Friday’s matchup between his team and favored Morgan as a toss-up.
“Morgan is a big and physical team, they’re obviously a very good team, but I like our chances,” Morrison said. “I believe we’re capable of beating anyone — and that includes a tough team like Morgan if we just protect the football and play like we know we can.”
Richfield enters the playoffs with a 7-3 overall record, but three of those losses have come in the final four games. According to Morrison, turnovers have played a major role in all three losses.
“Anytime we turn the ball over, we usually lose,” he said. “Whenever we hang on to the ball, we usually win, and it’s really been about that simple for us this year.”
The Wildcats are led by two primary playmakers who star on either side of the ball. Shay Morrison is the team’s leading tackler on defense and the second-leading rusher and receiver. Brodie Ellis is the team’s leading rusher, with 1,145 yards and nine touchdowns on the year, and is second on the team in total tackles.
Morgan presents a team that went 8-2 on the season but is coming off a loss to Juan Diego to end the season. It features a balanced attack led by running backs Kade Carrigan and Matt Murdock who have rushed for 808 and 647 yards respectively. They also are first and second on the team in receiving yards.
Quarterback Ben Saunders, with his 1,213 yards and 10 touchdowns, heads the Trojans' passing attack.
“Morgan presents a lot of challenges, and I think their line play is particularly good,” Morrison observed. “I like their running backs a lot, but I think we match up well in certain areas and it should be a great game and a good challenge for us.”
Richfield statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 31.2 ppg (5th in 3A)
Scoring defense: 12.4 ppg (3rd in 3A)
Passing leader: Spencer Henderson (63-119, 52.9%, 839 yards, 7 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Brenan Thomas (24 catches, 512 yards, 7 TDs)
Sack leaders: Shay Morrison (4 sacks)
Interception leaders: Spencer Henderson (3 INTs)
Morgan statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 35.4 ppg (2nd in 3A)
Scoring defense: 10.0 ppg (1st in 3A)
Passing leader: Ben Saunders (69-146, 47.3%, 1,213 yards, 10 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Carter Richins (42 tackles)
Interception leaders: Six tied with 1
Felt’s Facts for Richfield High School
All-time record: 322-374-12 (84 years)
Region championships: 17 (1926, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1984 co, 1985, 1988 co)
Playoff appearances: 38
All-time playoff record: 30-36-1
State championships: 1 (1984)
State championship record: 1-5
Felt’s Factoid(s): The 1931 Wildcats are one of just six teams to average more than 50 points a game. Richfield holds the record (tied with three others) for most sacks in a championship game with seven (1984).
Felt’s Facts for Morgan High School
All-time record: 432-319-22 (86 years)
Region championships: 21(1930 co, 1935, 1939, 1940, 1946, 1947, 1975 co, 1976, 1977 co, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1989, 1991 co, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2005 co, 2008)
Playoff appearances: 46
All-time playoff record: 47-39
State championships: 6 (1940, 1977, 1979, 1983, 1993, 1997,)
State championship record: 6-4
Felt’s Factoid(s): Morgan holds the single-game sack record (tied with Weber) of 15, set in 1972 against Grantsville. Trojan Jordan Wamsley returned five kickoffs for TDs in 2009 to set a state season record (tied with San Juan’s Jens Wilson).