Titans glad to overcome adversity, but hope not to rely on it

Published 12:28 am Tuesday, September 20, 2022

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The Memorial Titans were able to overcome adversity and escape Friday night with an 18-17 win over Porter.

This week, the Titans (3-0, 1-0 in District 8-5A Division I) take on Baytown Sterling (1-3, 0-2) on a short week. The game is being played Thursday at Stallworth Stadium.

Sterling shares Stallworth Stadium with Goose Creek Memorial and Baytown Lee, which often causes games to play Thursdays and Saturdays. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Thursday.

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While Memorial Head Coach Brian Morgan is disappointed his team was in a position to lose last week, he was glad to see his team stay calm and pull out the victory.

Over the past four seasons and three games, the Titans are 6-7 in games decided by one score. When looking at just district and playoff games, the Titans are 2-6 in that span.

“It was good to have success,” Morgan said. “Even when they were on the 1, our kids weren’t frustrated. They just kept playing. That was good and something we can build on. If we want to be a good team, you are going to play good teams in close games. They responded well.”

Morgan said his team has plenty of areas that need improvement, but is proud of the way the special teams units are performing. Sophomore kicker Luis Blanco nailed a 32-yard field goal with 11:55 left in the fourth quarter to give the Titans an 18-17 lead. That kick would end up being the deciding factor.

“He has a really good personality,” Morgan said. “With his personality, he probably didn’t even know that was a big kick. He has had a really good camp and season so far… He actually didn’t have a great week of practice. It was good to see him make it through that. I know from being in those shoes as a sophomore. When you are in that situation and young, you make it and your confidence goes up.”

Morgan connected on a game-winning kick his sophomore year, which propelled him through the rest of the season and playing career.

“If you miss it, it can linger,” Morgan said. “Now, (Blanco) has had success. Last year, we didn’t put him in pressure situations. This year, we have given him a little more. We are getting more confident in him, too.”

The coach also talked about Blanco’s consistency on kickoffs by putting the ball on the right corner inside the 10-yard line, which is difficult to find at the high school level.

Morgan also praised his kickoff coverage teams for their tenacity and ability to make plays.

“I started my meeting off (Monday) by looking at kickoff,” he said. “It is all starters across there. We have starting running backs and receivers and defensive backs and linebackers. They take pride in it, too.”

The Titans are looking for better team results against Sterling, which has been outscored 180-42 over the past three games. The Rangers are coming off a 44-0 loss to Kingwood Park.

The Titans will try to shore up a run defense that has struggled so far this season, allowing 168 yards per game.

Morgan said the Titans’ mostly inexperienced front seven is still trying to work out some kinks.

“We have four guys that didn’t start last year,” he said. “On one play, you might have three of them do everything right and one not, and the next play, he will be better and one other player will mess up. It is something we have to get better at, or we will lose to good teams.”