Sachem North kicker Bryan Morris closing in on LI's extra-point record

Sachem North's Bryan Morris kicks off at the Sachem North's Bryan Morris kicks off at the start of the second half against Sachem East in the Suffolk Division I semifinal playoff football game. (Nov. 11, 2011) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The stage was set. Sachem North was on the verge of stopping Bay Shore on the first drive of overtime on Sept. 15. Then the Flaming Arrows would take over at the Marauders' 20, run a couple of plays to move the ball close, and Bryan Morris would step into the spotlight and make his first career field-goal attempt a game-winner.

But as that plot unfolded, it was exit stage right for Morris' mother, Lisa.

"My Mom actually left before the end of the game when it looked like we were going to stop Bay Shore," Morris said with a grin. "She did not want to watch me have to kick a field goal there. I've had that experience with her before when I used to play soccer. I was a goalie, and when there were penalty-kick shootouts, she was never there. That was just something she didn't want to see. She would leave or just turn around and not watch."

As it turned out, Lisa Morris could have stayed. Bay Shore scored a touchdown on that drive, forcing Sachem North to abandon any field-goal notions, and the Arrows eventually won the game, 63-62, when Trent Crossan scored his eighth touchdown of the game and dramatically added the game-winning two-point conversion run.

That kind of prolific offense by Sachem North has played a major role in Morris' evolution from junior high soccer player to junior varsity receiver/cornerback to varsity kicker on pace to become Long Island's all-time leader for extra points kicked.

Morris, a junior, has 104 PATs, third -- according to Newsday's records -- behind Sean Moller of East Islip (121 in 2006-09) and Jon Korn of Floyd (105 in 2006-07). Moller is the all-time kick scorer on Long Island with 181 points, a mark Morris (113) hopes to challenge next year. Not bad for a late bloomer.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"My mom was a soccer player and I played soccer from the time I was 3 years old. But when I got to high school [ninth grade], I decided soccer wasn't for me anymore," Morris said. "So I got put on the JV 9 football team. I was a second-string guy. I didn't even go out for football to kick. I just wanted to be a football player."

But the JV coaches knew Morris' soccer background, and one day in late summer of 2010, he was asked to kick at practice. Quickly, he had a regular gig. Word spread to the varsity.

"We were practicing and our kicker was struggling and we're trying different people," Sachem North coach Dave Falco said. "Our JV coach comes down and says, 'What are you guys fooling around for? I've got the guy for you.' I'm like, 'A freshman kicker? You're kidding.' "

A skeptical Falco invited Morris to varsity practice. "He started booming them. He wasn't that great on kickoffs or punts then, but he was killing it on extra points," Falco said. "We put him on varsity [in Week 3] and he's been doing a great job. He's a solid kicker and we keep him busy."

North scored 422 points in 2010 and 404 last season. Despite losing their last two, the Arrows have scored 189 points in their first six games.

That gives Morris frequent kickoff opportunities and he's improved his distance, producing numerous touchbacks this season.

Field-goal opportunities, however, aren't plentiful in North's potent flex-bone, triple-option offense. "It's not a lack of confidence in me," Morris said of Falco's tendency to go for it in many fourth-down scenarios. "It's the confidence Coach has in our offense."

However, Lisa Morris did get to see her son's first field goal, a 31-yarder on Sept. 21 in a 51-14 victory over Patchogue-Medford. It was a low-pressure kick that she was comfortable watching. Bryan added a field goal in each of the last two games.

His father, Bob, operates the sideline chain gang at North home games and never turns away from the action.

Morris, a defenseman on the North lacrosse team, admits he has the recurring daydream of all kickers: to win a game with a last-second field goal. "If you're a kicker and you don't have that dream, something is wrong with you," he said. "I want to be there at that moment. It's the most exciting thing you can do."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Even if Mom won't be watching.

You also may be interested in: