Trojans take Perfect Mark into CAAC Blue Showdown with Grand Ledge
Above: Senior kicker/receiver Jack Morse and his East Lansing teammates will take a 2-0 record into Friday night's home game vs. Grand Ledge. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Though the sound of a placekicker booting a football may not have that trademark crack that a baseball does when smacked by a wooden bat, most field goal specialists know when they’ve tagged one high and deep.
East Lansing senior Jack Morse had that feeling and more last week in Dearborn when he connected from 45 yards out – with room to spare – in the fourth quarter of the Trojans’ 20-10 victory over Divine Child.
It was Morse’s second field goal of the game, and another example of why East Lansing is a threat to put points on the scoreboard when the ball is inside the opponent’s 30-yard line.
“He gives us that added dimension. We have that weapon that will get us points most of the time,” head coach Bill Feraco said of Morse, who also starts at wide receiver for the 2-0 Trojans. “(Jack’s kicking) allows us to condense the play calling when we reach a certain point on the field and eliminate some of the guesswork for the kids as to what to expect.”
After a relatively stress-free victory in its home opener vs. St. Johns (40-6), the Trojans quickly found themselves reeling on defense against Divine Child and its 235-pound tailback Tyler Whiteside. The Falcons’ opening drive lasted 12 plays and consumed more than seven minutes but managed only three points.
Feraco breathed a sigh of relief while the defense regrouped and recharged.
“Our ability to get to the ball en masse and then put strikes on the ball carrier was instrumental in a lot of things that happened as far as their offensive production as the game progressed,” Feraco said.
In other words, constant pressure from Trojan defenders Jayth Joseph (10 tackles), Jamar Mills (9 tackles), Justin Brown (9 tackles) and Kaleb Elam (2 interceptions) made life miserable for Whiteside, quarterback Cameron Urbanick and the rest of the Falcon offense.
“At halftime (leading 10-3) we stressed the elimination of the unforced errors – lining up offsides, procedure penalties, missed assignments,” Feraco said. “We were alright. We needed to sustain some blocks so that we could control the ball.”
Senior tailback Kobe Hayward helped in that regard by carrying the ball 22 times for 119 yards. Senior quarterback Joe Benbraham ran the offense with workmanlike proficiency, connecting with Morse on a couple of key pass plays during a 60-yard drive in the third quarter that ended with a Hayward touchdown run and a 17-3 East Lansing lead.
Morse knows things will be a bit more difficult Friday evening at 7 p.m. when Grand Ledge (0-1) steps onto Jeff Smith Field at Lynn C. Adams Stadium, the first CAAC Blue game for both teams.
“Grand Ledge is Grand Ledge. They’re always a great team and it’s a rivalry game,” Morse said. “We remember what happened at their place last year (a 48-13 Grand Ledge demolition). If we play our game (Friday) we’ll be fine. But we can’t let the little things slow us down.”