Zac Morton is Whitman’s all-time leading rusher, a slim but bruising runner who with every step forward distances himself from a future Viking running back intent on breaking his record. He had rushed for 2,465 yards in his career entering Friday night’s game at Springbrook, and after another electrifying night on the ground, now has a legitimate chance to reach 3,000 career yards during the last month of the season.
But Morton is no prima donna on the field. He’s capable of handling more thankless tasks, like setting his team up with good field position, too. For all his running prowess, it was Morton’s right leg that was most impressive Friday, as he boomed punt after punt into the brisk October night, one which led to a Springbrook fumble and a consequent score, and none that gave the Blue Devils quality field position.
Morton was the best player on the field Friday night, rushing for 101 yards and three touchdowns — and adding an interception and several key special teams plays — to help lift Whitman to a 28-13 win over Springbrook in a Montgomery County nonleague game in Silver Spring.
“I really enjoy punting, honestly. I’ve punted since, you know, Rockville Football League. . . when I was a youth football player,” Morton said. “I’ve always kind of had a knack for it.”
The talk all week for Whitman (4-3) was treating Friday’s game as a playoff affair, and the Vikings delivered. They used three turnovers to set up touchdowns in the first half, including an interception from Morton on the first offensive play of the night for Springbrook (3-4). On the next play, Morton ran untouched for a 17-yard touchdown to make it 7-0. The Vikings cashed in on two more turnovers late in the first half to set the tone in a game that was never close.
“If we didn’t get this win, we wouldn’t be in the playoffs. . . this was a playoff game for us,” Morton said.
Junior wide receiver Nolan Hanessian picked off a Springbrook pass with about three minutes remaining in the second quarter, then caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Evan Smith two plays later to push the score to 21-0. After the Blue Devils lost a fumble on the next possession, Morton scored his third touchdown of the night — a one-yard burst as the second quarter clock expired.
“He’s multi-versatile. I mean he just does it all,” Whitman Coach Jim Kuhn said. “He’s just really an outstanding all-around player.”
Springbrook scored 13 unanswered points in the third quarter, but could never win good field position after that, and much of it was attributed to the hang time on Morton’s punts. He lined up at quarterback, running back, defensive back and punter during the game — and even provided one of the best hits of the night covering a Springbrook punt, when he drilled a Blue Devils gunner.
“There’s three parts of the game: offense, defense and special teams,” Morton said. “I always try to affect as much as I can.”