Football: Morris has Friend in its cornerMatt Darlington, from Morris, throws with his team during a USF 7-on-7 passing league at Memorial Stadium in Joliet, IL on Wednesday June 13, 2012. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
One in an occasional series on Joliet-area athletes and teams gearing up for the 2012-13 high school season.
Updated: July 27, 2012 6:15AM
Morris senior Danny Friend said he would not mind calling signals under center in the fall.
“I’ll play wherever is best for the team,” the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Friend said during the recent University of St. Francis 7-on-7 Passing Jamboree.
Although Friend has been a quarterback at times in his football life, the master plan is to keep him at tight end, where he is being courted by numerous NCAA Division I schools, and have him help out on the defensive side of the ball as well.
Morris’ 2011 season ended with a 41-7 loss to Joliet Catholic in the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs. While the score says a drubbing took place, it also camouflages the outstanding season the Redskins enjoyed under coach Alan Thorson. And truth be known, not many in 5A could have done much with Joliet Catholic on a night when the Hilltoppers were on top of their game to that degree.
Morris finished 9-2, with the only regular-season loss a 31-28 Week 9 thriller to Kaneland.
The Redskins will enter the new season with serious graduation losses to replace, the list headed by elusive quarterback Austin Feeney, two-way lineman Jimmy Pelnarsh and linebacker Hunter Barry.
But it may not be time to hold a tag day just yet.
“Especially in the 7-on-7s early on, you’re in a rush to get stuff in,” Thorson said. “But this is a smart group. They pick things up fast.”
Thorson noted the Redskins return “most of our defense, except for Hunter Barry. And Jeff Perry is back. He is mean at linebacker and also will be our main running back.”
Whether Friend is handing Perry the ball will depend on the progress of senior quarterback Zach Cinnamon, a transfer from Streator, and junior Matt Darlington.
“Beside Perry, Reese Sobol will be a good running back,” Thorson said. “We’ll have a new quarterback, and it’s a three-man battle right now. Cinnamon is a good athlete. Friend is a good tight end and we want to leave him there if we can.”
“With Zach, it’s just a matter of how fast he gets ready in our offense,” Friend said of Cinnamon. “He throws a good ball.”
Assuming Friend is stationed at tight end, he said he would enjoy having Cinnamon or Darlington throwing the ball in his direction as often as possible. “We’re definitely a running team first,” he said. “But if it helps the team for me to catch more passes, sure, I’d love to do that.”
Friend has Boston College, Indiana, Minnesota, Northern Illinois, Oregon, Purdue and Western Michigan, among others, on his list of potential colleges.
“I think I will commit sometime soon, at least by sometime in July,” he said.