Heritage preview: Morring is on the job

Heritage junior continues to build skills at linebacker

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

Heritage Timberwolves

Coach: Jack Hathaway.

2011 record : 3-7, 2-2 GSHL.

Key players: E’Lon Mack, jr., wr/db; Loren Standiford, jr., qb; Aaren Morring, jr, rb/lb; Tim Hergert, sr., wr/db; Brandon Burns, sr., rb/dl; Antonio Pulido, jr., ol/dl; Noah Black, jr., ol/dl; Greg Armstrong, jr., ol/dl; Jalen Kelly, jr., ol/dl; Jarod Luedecker, so.; db; Jacob Gardiner, sr., rb;lb; Will Fanning, sr., wr/db; Jason Forwood, jr., te/lb; Spencer Jacoby, sr., wr/db; Victor Duran, jr., wr/db; Jay Allen, jr., rb/lb; Cameron Messerschmiett, sr., qb/db.

Season outlook: There are a lot of positive signs at Heritage. Hathaway reports at least 10 players who did not go out for football last year have returned to the field in an effort to get the Timberwolves headed in the right direction. “The climate is a lot different,” Hathaway said.

Opponents will have to stop a tough receiving crew, led by Mack and Hergert.

2012 SCHEDULE

Aug. 31 at Col. River

Sept. 7 Kelso

Sept. 14 Enumclaw

Sept. 22 at Decatur

Sept. 28 Union*

Oct. 5 at Skyview*

Oct. 12 at B. Ground*

Oct. 19 Camas*

Oct. 26 Evergreen*

  • — 4A GSHL game

Home games played at McKenzie Stadium

Coming Tuesday: Union

Heritage linebacker Aaren Morring worked all summer long preparing for the football season.

It's just that he rarely had time for any actual football.

Working 10, 11, sometimes 12 hours a day for a landscaping operation, he lifted hundreds of pounds of soil, climbed trees, and pretty much grew stronger every day just by showing up to the job

"It's go, go, go, go, go with my boss," Morring said.

Morring missed a lot of spring drills. By the time team camp began in July, Morring was away at work. Certainly, it was not an ideal situation, but it was one that Heritage coach Jack Hathaway understood.

Morring has to work to help support the family. Aaren's mother, Karren, his inspiration, has a bad back and is unable to work.

"She is the strongest person I've ever met in my life," Aaren said. "Seeing my mom go through the struggles, and she is still fighting through it. She raised my brother really well, and she's raising me really well."

While Morring could not be at many of the football functions in the spring and summer, he did call or text just about every day, letting Hathaway know his whereabouts. He promised his coach he would be in shape and ready for the first day of practice.

"He is very mature for his age," Hathaway said. "He is responsible, accountable. He has responsibilities at home. He was not messing around."

When practice began last week, Morring was there. As promised, ready to go.

"The coaches can tell I'm eager to start hitting people," he said.

He looks stronger, too.

Besides all the hard work from the job, his boss, Ron Foerster of Elite Arborscape Yard and Garden, got Morring into the P90X workout regime.

"He's 56 years old and looks like he's 36," Morring said.

So he figured it must work.

Morring's offseason program might be unorthodox, but so, too, was how Morring came to become a starting linebacker at Heritage last season.

While a student at Vancouver Christian, Morring had to find another team when the small, private school cancelled football. Students of private schools that do not offer a particular sport can compete with the public school where they live. Morring emailed Hathaway, then preparing for his first year as head coach, to let the coach know of his interest.

Morring compared his situation to being a walk-on athlete at college. The "scholarship" guys were the guys already on the team, while he was the "unknown" guy who just showed up, to see if he could make the squad.

He began his Heritage career on special teams. The first game gave him chills, playing in front of a big crowd for a big school for the first time.

"The lights were shining. It was breathtaking," he said. "I remember going there as a kid, thinking, 'I'm going to be one of those guys someday.' Then I was on the field. My dream came true. I was on the McKenzie Stadium field playing under the lights."

He played a series or two as a linebacker, too, and that's when coaches started realizing he might be too special just to be special teams. Morring said he looked up to the starting linebackers.

"I wanted to be in their jobs. I started at the bottom and worked my way up," he said.

By the middle of the season, he was starting.

"He finds the football, and that's half the battle," Hathaway said. "If you can find the football, you'll play. He has an extra knack for that."

Morring credits his previous coaching and present coaching for building that skill to "where it's almost like a gift."

His playing time was not gifted to him, though.

"He started to grade out better every single week," Hathaway said.

Which is why the coaching staff expects even more from Morring this season.

"We hope he will start from (last season) and continue to build up," Hathaway said.

Morring said he just wants to do his best and "leave it all on the field."

After all, Morring does not get to practice football year round like many of his colleagues. So when he is on the field, he leaves no doubt.

"I'm ready," he said.