The football Vikes add stickers to the back of their helmets as they reach their goals throughout the year. By the end of the season, number four’s helmet was covered with skull and crossbones stickers and covered in scratches and dents from all of his valiant rushing attempts.
Junior running back Zac Morton ran for 1,368 yards on 243 rushes and 11 touchdowns this past season. He averaged 136.8 yards per game and 5.63 yards per carry. His season total of 1,368 rushing yards passed Robert Nykuli (’01) for the second most yards in a single season in school history. Next season, Morton hopes to beat Val Djidotor’s (’12) record of 2,166.
“He is a complete team player and he makes his teammates better,” assistant coach Dan Wolff said. “I look forward to him leading our entire team next year.”
Teammates knew that Morton was primed for a big year going into the season, but he surpassed all of their expectations on both sides of the football.
“We were expecting big things from Zac since day one, but nobody could have predicted how dominant he was on both offense and defense,” junior wide receiver Russell Grant said.
The team had a shaky start to the season with losses to Wootton and Churchill, but it didn’t stop the 5’10”, 160-pound back from running for 70 yards against Wootton and 81 against Churchill.
On Sept. 14, Morton’s 17th birthday, he had a break-out game at Kennedy High School, rushing for two touchdowns and 174 yards on 28 carries. In the following games, with the exception of the contest against top-ranked Quince Orchard, Morton continued to produce huge numbers.
Coming off a tough loss against QO, the Vikes took on Blair on Homecoming night. In that game, Morton ran for an impressive 212 yards and two touchdowns. The following week, in a loss to 3A division winner Damascus, Morton ran for another 163 yards and a touchdown.
With two games remaining in the season at 3-5, the team tried to finish off with a .500 winning percentage. In the second to last game of the season on Oct. 26, Morton shattered Whitman alum Robert Nykuli’s (01’) single-game rushing record of 250 yards with a whopping 283 yards and three touchdowns against Walter Johnson. In an interview after the game with fightingvikings.com, head coach Jim Kuhn said it “was the best single-game [he] [had] seen in [his] 17 years of coaching.”
In the season’s finale on Nov. 2, Morton passed Nykuli with a 95-yard, four-touchdown performance.
Behind Morton’s success is a simple strategy: “My philosophy is always just to score and fight for that extra yard,” he said.
While his success is due in part to his philosophy, it’s also because of Morton’s tremendous talent, according to offensive line coach John Floyd.
“His strengths are his elusiveness and ability to make tacklers miss in open space,” Floyd said. “His ability to make things happen on his own is rather special.”
After Morton’s incredible season, there are many questions to be asked, including whether or not he will pursue a football career in college. In the meantime, the team is just looking forward to Morton’s promising senior year.
“I believe that he has a lot more in store for next year,” junior cornerback Kevin Baker said. “He has the potential to be one of the top ranked players in the county if not the state.”