Time to shine: Thursday football no problem for Titans, coach Brian Morgan

Published 12:14 am Thursday, September 26, 2019

Despite being off to a 1-2 record, Memorial senior receiver Chan Rubin believes he’s playing on a good team.

“We have a lot of players who are seniors that are good,” Rubin said. “I just feel like, everybody has to start playing and coming together as a team. Everybody has to come together and shine instead of one person getting the shine.”

This week, the Titans won’t have to wait until Friday to get their shine on.

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“Offensively, we just have to control frustrations and start getting open on the field,” said Rubin, who has four catches for 44 yards and a touchdown this season. “When we’re on the field, we get down by a touchdown or a field goal, we have to be able to come back and keep our composure and our minds right.”

Thursday night football — the high school edition — will be in live production for back-to-back weeks. Memorial will begin District 9-5A Division I play tonight against Galena Park and return to Port Arthur next Thursday to welcome Goose Creek Memorial.

Titans coach Brian Morgan has no problem with playing on Thursday. The athletes will still be at school and he and the coaching staff can still meet with them as kickoff nears, the way he sees it.

“Having both of [the Thursday games] back-to-back, it’s not a big deal this time essentially because, when you think, last week we were off, so it didn’t put us on a short week last week,” Morgan said. “We had some rain, but it really didn’t put us behind. And then next week, we’re back on a regular schedule. This Friday is essentially our Monday. It’s OK for us.

“Our kids have adapted well and we’ll get ready to play a game.”

The Titans are trying to put their toughest start in four years — Memorial began 1-5 in 2015 — behind them in hopes of a 7-0 run through 9-5A-I. Galena Park (1-2), playing under first-year head coach Spiro Amarantos, has the same aspiration.

Two of the Yellow Jackets’ running backs, senior Eli Quintero (43 carries, 266 yards, six touchdowns) and sophomore A’marion Kelly (33 carries, 265 yards, two touchdowns) rank only behind New Caney senior Zion Childress (59 carries, 609 yards, five touchdowns) for the 9-5A-I rushing lead.

Memorial sophomore quarterback Jah’mar Sanders is eighth with 29 carries for 188 yards and two TDs, and junior Branden Chaney has 34 carries for 117 yards.

Senior Francisco Villalobos and Kelly have shared time at quarterback, combining to complete 24 of 50 for 445 yards.

“The sophomore quarterback is really athletic,” Morgan said. “They do a really good job of running him and getting him out in space. He is a really good football player with the ball in his hands. They’ve got a good running back who’s returning. Defensively, they play hard and run to the ball hard. It’ll be a good test, for sure.”

The Titans have met their share of adversity in non-district play, their only victory at Houston Madison sandwiched between a close defeat at Deer Park and a blowout at home against Beaumont United. But Morgan has gotten them in the days since the United game to realize the finer points.

“Hopefully, our guys realize there are a lot of little things that go into winning football games,” Morgan said. “When you look at the film, especially from Deer Park and Beaumont United, it’s a block here and there away from really, really big plays and explosive plays. But that block is the difference in winning a game, and sometimes it’s four or five plays, really, that contribute to a loss. We realize that. Our guys are focused in, and we’re going to be just fine.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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