Naperville Central enjoys team win over Morton
By no means was this a great season opener for the Morton football team, but these days just getting on a field and playing against an opponent can be considered an accomplishment.
The Mustangs, who had yet to see action during this crazy spring of 2021, reached out to Naperville Central on Thursday and managed to line up a Saturday afternoon contest against one of the better teams in the state, one that was already 2-0. So when the host Redhawks won 41-0 the outcome may not have surprised many, and despite that outcome the Mustangs gladly welcomed the opportunity.
"We were trying to get the kinks out ... we had 10 guys on the field here and there for special teams and that's a great team (that already played a couple games)," Morton coach Bob Organ said. "You know, that's first-game stuff. This whole COVID thing is crazy enough. We're happy to get a game here. I told the kids 'Don't worry about who were playing just worry about what we can do.' Hopefully we'll get better."
Naperville Central, which was originally scheduled to take on crosstown rival Naperville North Saturday, started quickly against Morton. After building a 34-0 lead at the half, the Redhawks were able to empty their bench in the second half. Reggie Fleurima caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Owen Prucha on his team's first play from scrimmage and it was only the beginning for that combo.
"It was a great team win," said Fleurima, who caught six passes for 129 yards and two scores all in the first half. "Morton's a great team and we respect them. They had to come in after two weeks off. A lot of guys in our conference were out (of action) today. I feel terrible for them. We never know about our next game with everything going on right now."
While Naperville Central's offense was clicking through the air and on the ground, the defense recorded its second shutout in three games, with linebacker Shane Roth making tackles all over the field and adding a first-quarter interception that led to a touchdown run by Elijah Jordan for a 20-0 lead.
"The first half we played awesome. It felt awesome as we really set the tone. We emphasized playing our best in the first half so that we could get all those players in in the second half," said Roth, who helped fire up the team despite a late change in their opponent. "It obviously wasn't a crosstown classic and we wish it was, but playing every single game in this weird season is a blessing and it was a lot of fun."
Niko Gordon led a balanced Central ground attack with 92 yards and a touchdown, while Prucha finished 9 for 11 for 190 yards passing and the two touchdowns to Fleurima.
For the Mustangs, Vincente Carapia and Jovan Butts split time at quarterback with Carapia passing for 55 yards and Butts rushing for 24 yards.