All summer, people have told Morgan Green to relax. He accomplished the goal many high school football players strive for when, in June, he orally committed to play next year at Maryland, the team he grew up rooting for.
Green bristles at that thought. Of course he's going to enjoy his senior year, but don't tell him to take it easy. Believe it or not, he has too many things left to do.
Not only does he want to bring Lackey back to the Maryland 3A title game, and avenge last year's 28-0 loss to Linganore, he wants to be remembered by people outside of the school, whose athletic pulse he helped revive last season.
He wants to break the state's single-season rushing record. Last year, Green came within 111 yards of the total set in 1990 by McDonough's Sherron Gudger -- 2,741. Green figures that if he can make it back to the state title game, he can break the record.
"That's my motivation right there," Green said. "Seniors that are committed [to college], sometimes they take it easy. Not me. I've got to go after that record and win the state championship."
That might not be the only record Green sets this season as he tries to help Lackey become Charles County's first state champion since Gudger carried the Rams to the 3A crown in 1990. He needs 1,771 yards to break former Patuxent star and 2001 All-Met Player of the Year Terry Caulley's career rushing record among players in schools in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.
(Marcus Mason, the 2002 All-Met Player of the Year, surpassed Caulley's total the next season at Georgetown Prep, rushing for the last of his 5,790 career yards.)
"I think everybody wants him to get that record," Lackey Coach Scott Chadwick said. "But it's more important for us to win football games than for him to get that record. If we win, Morgan will do well."
Lackey is in a position to at least repeat its 12-2 mark of a year ago. Returning with Green are the Chargers' top two linemen, senior guard Jeremy Hairston and junior tackle J.B. Walton. Six starters from a defense that held seven opponents to seven or fewer points last season also come back.
In preparation for another rigorous season, Green reported to camp in better shape than he entered last season. He continued to tone his body, which now packs 210 pounds on a 6-foot frame. He added a Monday weight-training session every week with the goal of preventing a repeat of last year's late-season fatigue.
By the seventh game last year, "I was losing my appetite, weight and muscle," he said. "When I'd get hit, I'd go down easier."
Green's pursuit of the record has motivated his teammates similarly. They feel a part of it.
"It's one of those unsaid things," Hairston said. "It's on your mind. But even if he doesn't break it, he could still have a great season. I mean, some people don't get that [rushing total] in a career."
Breaking the record "means we go down in the record books, too, as the best line in state history. You look at Terry Caulley, Marcus Mason, they all had great linemen. We're the best line in state history if he rushes for the state record."
The pursuit of records in high school football is a relatively new phenomenon. Credit the Internet for giving an easy place to find these achievements.
"At no point in time [during the season] was it ever brought to [my attention] by a coach or a fan," Gudger said. "It never became, 'Sherron, we're going to make sure you get X amount of yards tonight. It wasn't until way after the season that I was even told" of having broken the record.
Schools now, to gain attention for themselves or their players, meticulously track records. After all, a record adds to a recruit's or school's cachet.
When Chadwick was coaching Bowie to the 2001 4A title, one of his assistants did thorough research on the past 35 seasons of the school's football program to assess which records active players had a chance to break.
"Whenever kids had a big game, we looked it up," Chadwick said. "That's what people were interested in. A lot of schools now are more focused on what school records are."
Gudger recalls walking through a mall in 1997 when Oxon Hill's Walter Cross threatened to break his record. An acquaintance came up to Gudger and asked him how he would feel if that happened.
"Not only did I not know who Walter Cross was," Gudger said, "I didn't even know I still had the record."
Just three years ago, Caulley, in his third year as a starter, rushed for 2,543 yards, led Patuxent to the 3A championship game and ended his high school career with 5,540 yards. All the while, he was oblivious to Bruce Green's record of 2,495 yards set five years earlier at Kent County and Cross's career total of 5,227, completed in 1997.
"In high school, I wasn't about the records," said Caulley, who is using his redshirt season at the University of Connecticut to rehabilitate a knee injury he suffered his sophomore season. "I was about getting to a four-year college. Honestly, for me, it was just produce to the point where the team was winning, and that way I knew colleges would hear about me. . . . I wasn't even familiar with the state record."
Caulley said the only numbers game he played was with himself. He was disappointed if he didn't improve upon the previous game or season.
"Since my sophomore year, they were throwing numbers out at me all the time," he said. "I was pretty much just trying to outdo myself."
Three times last season, Lackey built substantial leads by halftime or early in the third quarter and pulled Green from the game as an act of sportsmanship.
If this year's Lackey team is better than last year's, then Chadwick will have to reconcile taking Green out of games to maintain football etiquette rather than let the running back pad his rushing totals.
"He realizes the success of the team is the most important thing," Chadwick said. "We want him to get the record, but not at the expense of the team."
So does Gudger.
"I want to see him break the record," Gudger said. "I've held it for 14 years. It gives him something to shoot for. . . . I'd love to see someone else not only enjoy the feeling of breaking that record, but knowing it when they broke it." Gudger didn't know it when he broke it. And as much as Green embraces his chase of the record, what if he struggles in a game or two? What if he falls off pace sometime during the season? Green may have a hard time separating the record hunt from the championship hunt.
"When you start focusing on those things, they're great, but they put so much pressure on the kids," said Ron Stover, who coached Thomas Stone from 1983 to 1989 and is now the supervisor of athletics for Charles County public schools.
Green said he plans to be outwardly subtle about the records this season. Sure, he has a chart hanging on the wall of his bedroom where he will put his rushing totals from each game. But he does not plan on doing anything ostentatious like wearing a wristband with "2,741" written on it.
He does know, though, that history is in his favor.
"You look at the leading rushers; [Caulley and Gudger] are all around here in SMAC," Green said. "You kind of expect that if someone's going to break it, it's going to come from here."