J.W. North 50, Norco 7
By G. Montgomery
Lake Elsinore - Three years ago sophomore twins Damon and Dion Morton donned John.W. Norths varsity football colors.
The early going was rough. The Huskies lost several games. The toughest loss occurred on a cool Friday evening in late October 2001. The undersized Huskies were pounded by a bigger more physical Arlington team.
Arlington went on to win the league championship and force the young Huskies to except a second place league finish.
The young Morton twins stood motionless watching Arlington celebrate as if they were in disbelief that this could have happened to them.
After losing to Arlington, the Huskies went on to win their final four games.
North opened the playoffs beating Temecula Valley in a close game. North then upset previously unbeaten Corona Centennial to get to the championship game.
The Division 5 Championship game was an all-Ivy league final with North beating Moreno Valley View 21-17 for the title.
The importance of that Friday night loss in October will probably never be given much thought, but it is undoubtedly the launching point of the Morton twins and Norths enormously successful run.
Since that night, North has lost only two games, thoroughly beaten up on the Ivy league, made three championship appearances and won two of them.
Last Saturdays Division 5 Championship game against Norco was just another notch on Norths very well worn belt.
On the games opening kickoff, Norths Damon Morton slid up in anticipation of a short kick. He was right, grabbed the short kick and dashed 71-yards for the games first score.
Norco was stunned, defenders may have seen him run by, but there was no chance they would catch him.
I thought it was going to be real hard, but we just came out real hard and real focused after a good week of practice and it worked out, said Damon Morton.
This was only the beginning of Norcos nightmare. On their first play from scrimmage, a quick pitch to star running back Toby Gearhart created the games first turnover when he was hit and the ball stripped by linebacker Thomas Cornejo. The loose ball was recovered by Norths Devin McWilliams setting up a scoring drive of 50 yards.
E.J. Brown picked up another fumble and cruised 85-yards to the end zone.
The score was 29-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Their quickness is just unbelievable, Ive never seen such quickness on a high school team said Norco Head Coach Gary Campbell.
Norcos outstanding sophomore running back Toby Gearhart entered the game with seven straight 250-yard rushing games.
North held Gearhart to 195 yards on 30 carries, but Gearhart had had 4 fumbles, 3 leading directly to North scores.
I thought this was going to be a fight on offense and defense, they had some big guys and I thought it would be tough, said safety E.J. Brown.
Norco was totally overwhelmed by Norths speed on both sides of the ball.
Norco ball carrier's fumbled the ball 7 times. Thats the first thing we said, just stay calm, take it easy and dont make the big mistake that would let them have easy scores, and thats the first thing we did, thats an experienced ball club said Campbell.
The stadium turf was certainly no advantage for Norco. However, the speed and quickness of Norths team was so superior to Norco that it would not have made any difference where this game was played.
These kids have prepared themselves to get to this point, they are focused and prepared, they werent going to let anything get in their way and Im just blessed to be a part of it, said Norths first year head coach Lou Randall.
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