Tyler Morris had no plans on being one of the most prolific 8-man receivers in state history.
The Liberty Christian senior was excited to play 8-man, but he just wanted to perform to the best of his ability.
Three years later, the best of his ability is the career leader in receiving touchdowns, and the third-most receiving yards for 8-man players.
“I did not expect this,” Morris said. “After last season, that is when I first saw that it was possible to move up the ranks in the records. It feels accomplished, like all the hard work paid off.”
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Morris, who has 43 touchdowns and 2,833 yards through 32 career games, leads the Patriots into the Class 1B state championship game at 4 p.m. today against Neah Bay in the Tacoma Dome.
His offense isn’t the only reason he is in this position. He also has game-changing ability on kick and punt returns. He returned a kick 88 yards for a touchdown in the Patriots’ semifinal win over Cusick, making a big play with his team trailing.
“He is very quick,” Liberty Christian coach Mike Olson said. “There are very few kids we play against that can run like he can.”
And for all the accolades Morris has gotten — including all-state as a receiver last season — it’s his defense that might be his best attribute.
He has been playing varsity football since he was a freshman, and he showed Olson he could play with the big boys even as a youngster.
“I think that was the year that was a little bit of a turning point for me, realizing what kind of skills he had,” Olson said. “He was tough. I didn’t realize he would be tough enough to hang in there, but he did.
“He really blossomed his sophomore year and ever since then has been adding speed and size.”
Morris plays safety for Liberty Christian, a key position in 8-man football as it is the last line of defense on a field that rewards breakaway speed.
“He has the kind of speed that would make him successful in 11-man football as well,” Olson said. “He is always familiar with the situations that come up whenever he is on the field. I feel confident we will be making good decisions out there when he’s out there.”
Morris started playing football in grid kids as a fifth-grader, and started watching the game as a youngster with his grandpa, George “Buster” Morris, and his dad, Tom. Both Buster and Tom were offensive linemen, playing in high school. Buster went on to play at Central Washington and is in the school’s Hall of Fame. Tyler hopes to follow in his footsteps and play at the next level, which is a bit rare for 8-man players.
“It’s a challenge to promote yourself playing at this level,” Tyler Morris said. “A coach or scout can see talent, so hopefully they can see that through my films.”