Title hopes in the air for Skyview
Secondary will play key role as Storm try to stop Skyline offense
Saturday, December 3, 2011
David Garlington leads the team in interceptions.
Mo Morrison leads the secondary in Did-you-see-that!?! hits.
Together, they lead the Skyview defensive backs, a group that has been tested throughout the playoffs but faces its biggest test Saturday night in the Tacoma Dome.
Skyview takes on Skyline of Sammamish at 7:30 p.m. in the Class 4A state championship game.
The Spartans are led by quarterback Max Browne, Gatorade’s Washington football player of the year. Browne leads the state with 3,813 yards passing — the only player with more than 3,000 yards. He also has thrown 43 touchdowns against five interceptions.
So, yeah, the Skyview defense is facing a challenge.
Yet, the Storm are confident for many reasons. They hope to get pressure on Browne with their defensive line. They expect their linebackers to play with discipline. And they know the secondary will be prepared. Garlington and Morrison have been together for two seasons as the starting safeties, leading that unit.
Garlington’s playoff run almost ended when he broke his right hand in a practice prior to Skyview’s semifinal win over Lake Stevens.
“At first, the doctor said I couldn’t play,” Garlington said. “I didn’t really hear what he said after that.”
Garlington had other plans. With the proper wrap and a mold to form to his hand, he was able to protect the injury and get cleared to play. Game officials also inspected the equipment and gave the go-ahead.
All Garlington did was intercept two passes in a 38-14 win.
“The first one, I used my body (to catch the ball). The second one, I caught it with my left hand, then trapped it with my other one to make sure it didn’t come out.”
“Fear ‘The Club,’” the Skyview coaches said in unison at their meeting Sunday night as the started preparations for Skyline. They were referring to Garlington’s new nickname.
Fear The Club.
Garlington said he was so “jacked up” he did not feel any pain during the game and hardly any right after the game. His hand was swollen, but nothing that would keep him from playing in the championship contest.
He has a date with a surgeon on Tuesday. By then, he hopes to use his other hand to raise a state championship trophy.
Of course Garlington will play. And he would play any position the coaches would ask of him. That’s the kind of athlete he has been at Skyview. On offense, Garlington worked out as a quarterback and a running back before settling on wide receiver.
On defense, he made the move to safety late in his sophomore year. He became a full-time starter last year, and now he and Morrison roam the field, looking to make plays.
Morrison had eight interceptions last season. That got the notice of a lot of coaches in Southwest Washington, so he did not have as many opportunities this season. Still, he has three picks. Garlington now has five.
And yes, they do compete.
“Me and David get along real well. We hang out outside of school, too. We have a lot in common, and we make a lot of things a competition,” Morrison said. “I have a couple of knock-out hits. He’s trying to compete with me in that. Who has the most tackles? Who gets to the ball first?”
Not just in games, but in practice, as well. They also make fun of each other for missed opportunities.
“We’ve both dropped a lot of interceptions this year,” Morrison acknowledged.
Don’t worry, they do know how to haul in the ball when it really counts. They both play wide receiver for the Storm, as well.
“I actually catch the ball on offense,” Morrison said with a laugh.
Last week, Morrison had two catches for 84 yards, each reception setting up a Skyview touchdown. Garlington won’t get too many targets anymore, not with that club on his hand, but he did have 252 yards receiving with a couple of touchdowns this year. (Don’t tell anyone, but Morrison has 256 yards and four scores. Not that they’re competing on offense, too.)
On defense, both safeties said they have to credit their cornerbacks, as well. Reiley Henderson, Alex Mangin, Forrest Russell, and Kyle Ponciano have all made big-time contributions this season.
Now, comes the biggest game of their lives — against the best passing offense in the state.
“This game doesn’t feel any different than any of the others we’ve played,” Morrison said. “We’ve been adjusting to every playoff team. Lake Stevens was a passing team. But they run different plays than Skyline. This week, we have to get ready for what Skyline runs.”
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Garlington said. “But we’re coming off probably our two best games as a group of DBs in the last two years. Bellarmine Prep and Lakes Stevens, it was lights out.”
The Storm would love to turn out the lights on one more high-flying offense.