Future Cougs running into semifinal games

TWO STAR California high school running backs and future Washington State Cougars helped their teams to playoff victories over the weekend that propel them into their respective state semifinals. One of them -- Jamal Morrow -- rushed for 174 first-half-yards but really turned heads via the air game.

While Morrow racked up impressive ground stats, it was his work in the passing game that turned heads. Midway through the second quarter, with his Heritage High team at the Riverside Arlington 4-yard-line, he made a spectacular catch in the endzone to put his club up 14-0 and set them on course for a 35-7 victory.

The pass was actually intended for another player, but "I just went up and tried to bring it in, and I guess I did. I'll hear about that for the rest of the week, but oh well, we'll take the touchdown!" Morrow told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

On the ground, Morrow finished the night with 205 hashes on 27 carries but left the game in the third quarter after tweaking a knee that has slowed him in recent weeks. He told the Press-Enterprise after the game that the knee would be fine.

"We knew we couldn't come out like we did last week (falling behind Palm Desert 13-0 before storming back), so we needed to come out and focus and come out physical, and that's what we did," Morrow told the North County Times.

Heritage, now 11-1, will play Fontana Kaiser at home in next week's semifinal game. Morrow has rushed for more than 2,000 yards this season.

MEANWHILE, IN NORTHERN California, another future Cougar -- Olito Thompson -- had an uncharacteristically light statistical night but his Concord High team still managed a hard-fought 14-6 victory over Casa Grande in a game that featured driving rains and a power outage.

Thompson concludeD the night with 42 rushing yards on 19 carries. For perspective on those numbers, consider that Thompson has averaged 164 rushing yards per game this season and last week in a first-round playoff victory over Eden he ran for 200 yards and 3 TDs.

Concord, 10-2 on the season, now faces Clayton Valley on Friday with the winner advancing to the North Coast Section Division 2 championship game.

Another future Cougar from California, Santa Margarita receiver River Cracraft, saw his season come to an end Friday in a second-round playoff nailbiter with St. Bonaventure. The game went into overtime. At one point this season, Santa Margarita was the No. 1-ranked high school team in the nation by USA Today, but their fortunes took a hit in late September when star QB Johnny Stanton (a Nebraska verbal commit) was lost for the year with a knee injury.

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