Features | Friday Night Drive

Button ready to take over as Morris quarterback

Junior Carter Button went 7 for 7 through the air as a varsity backup last season

MORRIS – Most of the talk in the offseason about Morris football has been about what the team is returning from last year’s 10-1 team. For example, four of the starting offensive linemen return, as well as leading rusher Ashton Yard, who ran for 1,170 yards and 12 touchdowns in 10 games. Yard also will be a fixture on the Morris defense, which returns eight starters from a team that allowed only 12.7 points per game last year.

About the only area that saw a significant hit because of graduation was the passing game. Quarterback Zach Romak (112 for 162, 1630 yards, 16 TDs) graduated, as did leading receivers Myles Johnston (39 catches, 649 yards, 10 TDs), Aidan Romak (22 catches, 324 yards, 3 TDs), Cameron Hatcher (23 catches, 287 yards), and Henry Hansen (15 catches, 164 yards, 2 TDs). The leading returning receiver, junior A.J. Zweeres, caught eight passes for 107 yards and a touchdown.

The burden of directing the offense in the fall will go to junior Carter Button. Although he is only a junior, Button is no stranger to varsity football. He got plenty of playing time in the games that Morris won by a large margin, and was successful during that time. He completed all seven of his passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. Zach Romak was also a threat with his legs, rushing for 990 yards and a team-high 13 touchdowns. Although Button may not be asked to run as often as Romak, he still turned in 66 yards and a touchdown on nine carries last year.

“I got a lot of playing time for a backup quarterback last year,” Button said. “I think that experience will help me this year. It really showed me what a difference there is from the freshman and sophomore level to the varsity level. The speed of the game is a lot faster, and seeing that last year should help me this year.

“I am excited for the season. With our offensive line being so big and so experienced, that is nice. And with runners like Ashton, A.J. and Sam [Reddinger], teams might crowd the line to stop the run. Hopefully that will open up the passing game.”

Several Morris receivers were targeted Tuesday in a four-way 7-on-7 workout with Romeoville, Reed-Custer and Yorkville. Zweeres, Gage Phillips, Jack Wheeler and Will Knapp were among the standouts.

“Our guys can all make the catches and do something with it after they catch it,” Button said. “I just have to get it to them.

“The loss in the second round was tough last year. The goal here at Morris every year is to get to state, so that’s the goal again this year. We hope we can do it. The summer has been going really well. Now we have to keep improving.”

Morris coach Alan Thorson was pleased with Button’s play.

“Carter definitely has a good arm,” Thorson said. “He throws a real good ball. And he’s not Zach Romak, but he’s a better runner than people might think.

“He was able to come into a lot of games for us late and ran the offense well. He even got to play in the first-round playoff game, pretty much the whole fourth quarter. There aren’t a lot of sophomores that get that kind of varsity experience, so we feel good about Carter being the leader. We have a lot coming back on both sides, but the biggest hit we took was in our passing yardage. Zach’s gone and so are most of the top receivers. But with Carter and the group of receivers we have, if we can get them comfortable in the offense, we feel pretty good.”