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Morris happy to be an Airedale 5/12/22

Morris happy to be an Airedale

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 

 

Payton Morris isn’t the same fresh-faced kid he was when he left Lavaca High School back in 2015. 

 

But he’s not necessarily a grizzled veteran, either. 

 

Morris has a goal to one day become a head football coach. For now, the 25-year-old former Golden Arrow is happy to immerse himself with Alma’s football roots. 

 

Morris spent the last five years coaching on Todd Knight’s Ouachita Baptist staff before being hired to join Alma coach Rusty Bush’s 2022 staff. 

 

“When this job came open, coach Bush was the first person I called,” Morris said. “I went to coach (Jay) Derby and said, ‘Hey, can you give coach Bush a call?’ For one thing, I recruited Alma, and No. 2, I got to know coach (Rusty) Bush and coach (Chris) Smith, and believe in what they’re doing. I love the town; they’re supportive. 

 

“They have exactly what you need to have to win.”

 

It didn't hurt, either, that Morris is closer to his Lavaca roots. 

 

Morris will coach Alma receivers and special teams this coming season, which is one thing that almost immediately intrigued Bush. 

 

“I have watched OBU over the last 15 years and coach Knight and his staff and what they do (special teams),” Bush said. “I have been to them numerous times to talk about special teams because they probably do it better than anybody I’ve ever seen. I’m fortunate enough to find a guy that spent three years under coach Knight to see how they do it.”

 

“Coach Todd Knight was our special teams coordinator at OBU,” Morris said. “I got to learn under him for three years and that was the best thing for me.”

 

Like a lot of coaches, Morris got the coaching bug while in high school. 

 

“I played for Mark Headley at Lavaca,” Morris said. “Coach Headley was the first person that I thought, ‘You know, I want to be like coach Headley; that’s what I want to do with my life.’ 

 

“When I got out of college, I had the opportunity to coach college and I took it and ran with it. It was great for the five years I did it, but I knew I wanted to be a (high school head coach) one day.”

 

“Those are the kind of people I’m looking for,” Bush said. “I’m not looking for the guy that comes in and says I’d really like to just be an assistant junior high coach my whole life. Some people look at that differently … ‘I can’t believe you want coaches to leave?’ 

 

“If you want the best ones, that's who you’re going to get.”

 

“You hear people say it’ll happen when it’s time,” Morris said. “I’m not out there looking, I’m just enjoying where I’m at.”

 

Morris and the Airedale receivers have the luxury of catching passes from standout Joe Trusty for another season. Trusty threw for 2,192 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2021, with most of that damage coming over the last five games. 

 

Two of Trusty’s biggest targets in 2021, Conner Stacy and BriLee White, combined for 124 of the 160 completions, meaning Matthew Schlegel, Derek Hatcher, and newcomer Drake Stogsdill have their work cut out for them. 

 

“I think we have to develop depth; that’s the biggest thing,” Morris said. “When we go out there with our starters, I feel really good about who is out there. But you know in football, it’s not about the first guys (starters) out there, it’s about the guys behind them. We have to develop some depth at wide receiver, specifically, and that goes beyond catching passes. We have to be good blockers, too. 

 

“I’m already seeing that.”