The Meridian Star
Having a three-year starter in high school is a rarity, but a bonus. In youth football, it's basically unheard of.
Enter the Neshoba Central rookie team, which is carrying a roster laced with mutli-season players – including third-year starting quarterback Asher Morgan. On Saturday, in the Mississippi Athletic Association Youth Football league opener, the Rockets took down the Meridian Wildcats, 36-0, at Ray Stadium.
"I feel like this is one of the better group of kids I've had," Rocket head coach Greg Futon said. "If they play together we have a chance to go a long way."
Morgan threw for 75 yards and ran in a one of the Rockets' four touchdowns.
"He's probably one of the best quarterbacks in Mississippi youth," Futon said. "He's a leader. He knows my offense. He knows what to do. He puts people in place."
Morgan was bumped up to rookie ball a year early, and to Futon's bonus, doesn't turn 13 years old until the season is nearly over, giving the sixth grader extra time at the youth level before moving on to middle school football.
Morgan is one in a handful of returners from 2012, but Futon most excited about having the quarterback-reciever combo of Morgan and Ladertius Griffin back for another round.
"A lot of time with 11 and 12 year olds, you don't get a chance at a second year guy, [but] this year with him and Asher, shoot, they play catch-and-pitch," Futon said.
With the returning group, Futon said if things click throughout the rest of the season, like they did on Saturday, he hopes his team will make it to Hattiesburg at the end of the season to play for a state championship in November.
"I've got more returning people than most have, most of the time you only get the one-year player," he said.
The Rockets broke open the season with a score 13 seconds after the kick-off whistle. Kardius Callaway ran for a 19-yard
touchdown to take a 6-0 lead.
On their very next drive – earned off a fumble recovery – Dekeon Kirk rushed in a 6-yard play and a good two-point conversation made it a two-score game, 14-0.
With a comfortable lead, Futon let Morgan loose, throwing for two long passes on the next drive. On a third-and-six, he connected with Griffin for a 16-yard throw. The duo would have to make up lost yardage due to flags three plays later. A 21-yard pass to Griffin put the ball on the 14-yard line for a first down. It took two plays, but Morgan took the ball home from the 4-yard line and a 20-0 lead with 6:19 left in the second quarter.
Later in the quarter, Morgan and Griffin flashed their experience, connecting for a 28-yard pass just before the first half expired.
In the second half, it was all Griffin, scoring from way out twice. On the Rockets first drive of half, he ran in a 75-yard touchdown, 28-0, with 5:10 left in the third quarter.
With 3:05 on the game clock, Griffin caught an interception from Meridian's Makeem Anthony for a 40-yard return and score, 36-0.