12 Sep Morgan, Harding Academy Wildcats chasing another championship
by Levi Gilbert
In 2017, Harding Academy got off to a slow start, but the Wildcats finished strong, winning four of five games down the stretch. Senior quarterback Davis Morgan is taking the lessons learned from last year’s challenges and applying them to his final season of high school football.
“You have to keep a good perspective on the final goal of the season,” Morgan said. “The losses made us a better team, and we were able to persevere through many injuries and other mishaps. There will be highs and lows in the season, and I learned that we need to push through it all in order to get better.
“My goal for this season is to try to be in the moment throughout all of it — to enjoy the strain of the season and learn from it all. I love the team I am a part of, and I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys. I want to give it my all every single game and every single down.”
Through their first two games, Morgan and the Wildcats have had mixed results, winning a shootout against Highland in Week 1 and falling to Bald Knob in a close match last week in the rain.
“I have learned that we have a lot of fight,” Morgan said. “We started slow in both games, but we were able to turn it around and make a comeback. We have to start better in the coming games, but I know we will be able to. We will not give in no matter the score. That’s the reason why I love my teammates. They will always have my back.
“We want to clean up our execution. We have had lots of reps, and I know we can go out and execute our plays at a high rate of speed. I know I need to work on having more poise in the pocket. I do not need to let the rush affect me as much as it has the past few games.”
And that’s the kind of leader Morgan is for the Wildcats — the kind that takes ownership of his team and responsibility for his performance.
Morgan was selected to this year’s 501 Football Team — 28 players representing all 11 counties of the 501. The team, sponsored by Conway Ortho and Sports Medicine Center, Conway Regional Health System and First Security Bank, boasts the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the field. Morgan was nominated by his head coach, Neil Evans.
“I cannot give a higher recommendation for someone than I give Davis Morgan,” Evans wrote in his nomination. “He’s coachable and has a desire to perfect his craft. He leads with tremendous body language, poise and a team-first attitude.”
Morgan led the 3A in passing last year as a junior, throwing for 3,089 yards and 36 touchdowns. In the Wildcats’ first two games, Morgan picked up right where left off, throwing for 603 yards and two touchdowns. But, uncharacteristically for the senior, he’s thrown five interceptions. As expected, Morgan is working even harder to clear up the mistakes heading into the final non-conference game against Heber Springs.
“If you have a bad game, people start to question things,” Morgan said. “Coach has told us several times this year to protect us as a team. The challenge this year off the field is to not let outside noise distract us from the goal we are trying to achieve. Playing football will not only make us better athletes, but better men who will be prepared for the world ahead of us.”
At Harding Academy, Morgan is also involved in Student Association and Beta Club, and he’s the class representative for the senior class. He’s a multi-sport athlete for the Wildcats, excelling in basketball and golf, in addition to football. After graduation, Morgan plans to attend Harding University and play basketball under his father, Jeff Morgan, Harding’s men’s basketball coach and athletic director.
“I am thankful to have that opportunity,” Davis said. “It has always been a dream of mine to play for him. Basketball has always been my first love in sports.
I have no idea what my major will be, but with lots of prayer, I know that God will open my eyes to a path He wants me to take.”
Morgan and the Wildcats close out non-conference play at home against Heber Springs at 7 p.m. Friday.