Injury forces quarterback change at Morrison

Jason Elmquist/Stillwater News Press Morrison junior quarterback Gage Williams (15) rolls out of the pocket, looking to pass during the season opener against Kiefer. Williams tore his ACL in the game and will be replaced by sophomore Jared Harmon.  

Zero Week is supposed to be a chance for teams to move a non-district game – typically in the heart of the district schedule – to the week before the season opens for all schools in Oklahoma.

The thought is typically to allow for a bye week in the heart of the schedule or late in the season to prepare for a playoff push. But for Morrison, Zero Week this year turned out to be truly detrimental.

The Wildcats’ starting quarterback Gage Williams suffered a season-ending ACL tear in his left knee. And this week, Morrison has been working to find a way to replace a player who accounted for 82 percent of the offense in their victory over Kiefer.

“You’re not going to be able to replace a kid like Gage from what he brought to our team – both offensively and defensively,” Morrison coach Cory Bales said.

The replacement for Williams will be sophomore Jared Harmon, who will get his first high school start Friday at Crescent, with a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Bales said Harmon won’t be heading in completely unprepared for his first start.

During their lone scrimmage the week before the Kiefer contest, Harmon got most of the JV and varsity snaps as the coaching staff held Williams out as he was nursing a hip injury.

“Jared has actually gotten quite a bit more reps up to this point than normally would have happened,” Bales said. “Probably the biggest thing is, we’re not asking Jared to be Gage. Jared has his own traits as a quarterback.”

One of the biggest traits is his size.

Harmon stands a little taller than Williams, though doesn’t quite have the running ability of Williams – who had rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns before sustaining his injury in the fourth quarter.

“As a team, we’re going to have to change a few things that we do to fit what Jared does best,” Bales said. “… He’ll be a pocket-passer type guy because of his size. But the thing is that he can run, too – just a different style and body shape than Gage since he’s 6-foot-3, 6-4 back there.”

With his size and ability to throw the ball, it’s likely the Wildcats won’t rely on the quarterback run as much as they did with Williams and previous quarterbacks at Morrison.

But one of the biggest concerns Bales will work through with Harmon is the nervous energy for a sophomore making his first career start for a perennial football program in Class A.

“He’s going to be amped up, so what we need to do early is get him so easy throws, some easy completions and let him get himself wrapped up into the game,” Bales said. “… We don’t want to put the game where he feels like he has to put it all on his shoulders. We’ve changed some things this week to get more people involved, and just kind of let him do his thing.”

Perry (1-0) at Blackwell (0-1)

The annual Battle of the Maroons on the gridiron will take place this Friday with the Perry Maroons looking replicate their game against rival Blackwell a year ago in Perry. PHS, which is coming off a 39-8 blowout of Fairview in Zero Week, blew out Blackwell 46-22 in last year’s contest. Senior quarterback Mason Drake, who was 22 of 27 for 312 yards and four touchdowns last week, threw for 300 yards and had three combined touchdowns against BHS in last year’s matchup. Class 3A Blackwell lost its opener in Zero Week, a 36-34 road loss to Class A Tonkawa.

Hennessey (0-0) at Perkins-Tryon (0-0)

The Demons open the sixth year under Bruce Williams with a home game against a Hennessey team in Class 2A that went 2-8 last season. However, last year’s game between these two teams saw P-T needing a 90-yard drive late in the game to escape with a 15-14 victory. The Demons have starting quarterback Austin Mages returning for his junior season after starting all year last year and most of his freshman season.

Coyle (0-0) at Pioneer-Pleasant Vale (0-0)

What is becoming a yearly rivalry between Pioneer-Pleasant Vale out of Class B and Coyle in Class C moves back to a road game for the Bluejackets after back-to-back games in Coyle – including a dominating 38-14 home win last season to open the year. The last time Coyle had to travel to PPV in 2016, the Bluejackets returned home with a lopsided loss of 52-18, which started them on a three-game losing streak to open the year.

Yale (0-0) at Summit Christian (0-0)

The Bulldogs of Yale begin their second season in 8-man football on the road against a Summit Christian squad that wasn’t that competitive last season. Yale rolled to a 62-14 victory over Summit Christian – which went 3-7 in 2018 – to open the season last year as one of its seven regular-season victories on its way to reaching the second round of the playoffs. However, Yale is going into this year having graduated 11 players from last year’s team.

Cushing (0-0) at Bristow (0-0)

The Cushing Tigers will have a tall task to open the season with going on the road to face a rival that is getting some respect heading into the year. Bristow is ranked No. 12 in Class 4A in the Associated Press poll after going 9-1 in the regular season last year – before a first-round playoff exit. In last year’s matchup between Cushing and the Pirates, Bristow rolled to a 60-39 victory.

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