Morris relentless in 43-3 handling of cross-county rival Coal City

A.J. Zweeres

COAL CITY – Carter Button and A.J. Zweeres were at their level best opening the 2023 high school football campaign against cross-county rival Coal City.

Button connected on 8 of 15 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns while also running in a score. Zweeres caught five of Button’s offerings for 164 yards and a pair of nifty touchdown catches along with a interception on defense, as Morris trounced the Coalers on Friday evening 43-3 with a running clock through the later stages of the fourth quarter.

“We knew we’d need to pick up the effort to open the season against Coal City on the road, and everything started clicking, and we were able to put all the pieces together in the end,” Zweeres said. “I got some great throws from Carter (Button), and I thought I had a pretty good night overall.”

So did Button, also tossing a 33-yard touchdown to junior Jack Wheeler in the third quarter. Button also ran in a 1-yard scoring plunge moments after that gave Morris 21 points for the quarter to go with the 20 marked in the first quarter and a 41-3 lead.

“I just was trying to get into the rhythm of a new season, and we figured it out pretty quickly,” Button said. “Things went very well for all of us tonight.”

And also for senior running back Jacob Swartz, who was a workhorse with 28 carries and 108 yards along with an 18-yard touchdown run that closed out the first period with Morris ahead 20-0.

“Jacob running the ball along with Carter, A.J., Jack and the rest of our offense was pretty special tonight,” Morris veteran coach Alan Thorson said. “But our defense was amazing too.”

It certainly was, as the Morris defensive unit held Coal City to just 44 yards in total offense — 32 on the ground and 12 in the air. The Coalers had only two first downs all night.

The Coalers were led by a team-best 38 yards on 11 carries from Landin Benson along with his 33-yard field goal early in the second quarter after a blocked punt by Creide Skubic.

“The effort was there, but the execution wasn’t,” Coal City coach Francis Loughran said. “Penalties hurt us too, but it was a great test for us against Morris as it always is. We know we have a lot to work on, and I know we’ll respond well.”

Junior Hayden Hutchcraft’s tackle of Coalers quarterback Nicholas Meents in the end zone for a safety brought the game to a running clock at 6:34 of the last period and the final score with Morris up 40.

Junior Griffin Zweeres also added a 2-yard touchdown run for Morris in the first quarter.