MORRICE — Morrice opened its state title defense Friday by cruising past New Haven Merritt 46-0 in a first-round 8-Player Division 1 playoff game Friday night.

Orioles head coach Kendall Crockett praised his team’s defense in the win.

“(When) our defense plays well our team plays well,” Crockett said.. “They swarmed to the ball, they played hard and gave our offense a chance to run the ball.”

Junior linebacker Peyton Smith said the defensive dominance traced back to how the Orioles practiced.

“It goes back to practice and how we prepared throughout the week,” Smith said. “We come in with the mindset that we always have to be ready for the fight ahead, move forward and improve every week.”

Morrice was able to draw first blood, scoring on back-to-back rushing touchdowns to go up 16-0 late in the first quarter.

Following the second Morrice score, Orioles stole back possession on the ensuing Merritt drive with a Kodie Kiczenski interception. But then things took a turn for the Orioles, as their offense became bogged down in penalties and stagnated for most of the second quarter.

Adding to Morrice’s offensive woes was the Merritt defense was beginning to figure out the Orioles’ rushing attack.

So, Morrice changed things up on and started going to the air.

“When they started bringing eight guys into the box we had to make them honor our passing game, so we threw it over the top to loosen up the secondary,” Crockett said.

The adjustment worked as Garrett DeLau was able to connect with Shane Cole on a 34-yard passing touchdown to close the half up 24-0.

In the second half, the Orioles made more adjustments and got back to playing their style of football.

“Their defensive ends were doing some things we weren’t prepared for,” Crockett said. “We had to put a few different blocking schemes into effect, make adjustments and make plays.”

Morrice scored three more times, all on the ground, and completed the shutout.

“It feels great to advance, but we always have to keep that humble mindset,” Smith said postgame.

Next week Morrice will travel to Deckerville with a semifinal berth on the line. Crokett knows there’s one area the Orioles need to improve on going into that game.

Deckerville rolled past Flint International Friday, 66-6.

“We’ve got to get rid of the penalties,” Crockett said. “If we’re going to go into Deckerville we have got to get rid of the penalties and keep drives moving.”

Senior running-back/cornerback Jarrett Wood said he was looking forward to playing Deckerville.

“It’s going to be incredible game, it’s a rivalry. They hit hard and they’re kind of built like us so it’s going to be interesting to see how it goes down and hopefully we advance.”

8-Man Division 1 Playoffs

Morrice 46, New Haven Merritt 0

New Haven Merritt    0    0    0    0    —    0

Morrice        16    8    16    6    —    46

TEAM STATISTICS

    NHM    Mor

Total yards    76    410

Rushes-yards    32-72    46-315

Passing    1-6-4    7-10-95

Penalties-yards    1-5    7-60

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Morrice — Garrett DeLau 23-107 2 TDs, Jonathan Carpenter 12-102 2 TDs, Jarrett Wood 9-99, Garvin DeLau 2-7 TD. New Haven Merritt — Deshawn Terhune 15-43 Fumble

PASSING: Morrice — Garrett DeLau 7-10-95-TD.

RECEIVING: Morrice — Shane Cole 2-45 TD, . New Haven Merritt — Deshawn Terhune 1-4

DEFENSE: Morrice — Peyton Smith 14 tackles; Jack Nanasy 6 tackles, sack; Kodie Kiczenski 5 tackles, INT.

Records: Morrice 9-1 ; New Haven Merritt 8-2

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