With five games under their belt, the Pace varsity football team prepares for the final stretch of the season and a playoff push. “We have a lot of weapons that I think will really help us score some points,” said Head Coach Chris Slade. One of those weapons includes star junior quarterback MJ Morris, who returns to Pace from 7A Carrollton High School.
After attending Pace for middle school, Morris went on to play for the Trojans, starting both his freshman and sophomore year. Morris threw a total of 2500 yards and 25 touchdowns for Carrollton, and he now plans to help the Pace team go far this fall.
Starting their season strong on Sept. 4, the Knights defeated the Holy Innocents’ Golden Bears 14-7 on Walsh Field. After their second game against Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy was postponed due to weather conditions, the Knights fell short to Westminster in a tight 7-3 Homecoming game on Sept. 25. However, they bounced back on Oct. 1, demolishing McNair 55-0. The following week the team lost to South Atlanta 22-14 in a close, one possession game, then travelled down West Paces to beat Lovett 21-16. The Knights’ fourth region game against DM Therrell on Oct. 29 was postponed due to weather.
Morris missed the first game due to a shoulder injury, but returned to the backfield against Westminster. After warming up against the Wildcats, he came back to throw for 480 yards through the following three games.
Highly ranked in his respective position, Morris has already gained the interest of various NCAA Division 1 coaches. The third ranked quarterback in the class of 2022 has offers from Auburn, Michigan, Penn State, Stanford and many others, according to 247 Sports.
“He’s really smart. His football IQ is pretty high, and he grasps whatever concept you want him to and catches on things pretty quick,” said Coach Slade, recalling one of Morris’ best qualities in the backfield. Coach Slade said that along with Morris’ knowledge, “he does a really good job breaking down coverages and finding the open receiver.” Morris can also run if necessary, according to the head coach. Morris plays a dual threat style, threatening opposing defenses in the air and on the ground.
His arrival back to the Castle did not just result in a reunion with old teammates and coaches, but also renewed relationships with old classmates. Morris says that his decision to come back to Pace had more to do with his experience off the field. “I’ve always missed my Pace family because of the relationship I had with the staff and students,” he said.
“Being back at Pace is great,” he said. “It feels good to be back with my old friends.” Morris’ teammates are also thrilled with his arrival. “It is great having him throw to me because he is like my little brother, and the relationship on and off the field is great,” said senior wide receiver Jayden Thomas.