Week 1 Rewind: Morgan pressured, West wins, Xavier rallies

Ashwaubenon quarterback James Morgan scrambles from pressure during a Week 1 win over Green Bay Preble. (WLUK-TV)
Ashwaubenon quarterback James Morgan scrambles from pressure during a Week 1 win over Green Bay Preble. (WLUK-TV)

GREEN BAY — James Morgan enters this season as the most recognized football player in the area.

That’s the case when you play quarterback as well as he does.

Last week, the Ashwaubenon senior opened his season with a 31-17 road win at Green Bay Preble, but along the way had good and bad moments and sometimes on the same play.

Morgan was 24 of 41 for 333 yards with two TDs and two INTs, which both came near or in the end zone. Morgan threw some great passes and threw some he’d like to have back.

On one of the interceptions Morgan showed something nobody knew he had, catch-up speed. The quarterback chased down Preble’s Ethan Vanden Plas and prevented a TD with a tackle it appeared he had no chance of making.

Morgan was under pressure at times and there’s no question the best defense for a quarterback is a pass rush. Preble came after him.

“James is going to get that harassment every game,” Ashwaubenon coach Mark Jonas said. “He still threw up some pretty good numbers and threw some pretty good balls. He led his team to a win, that’s all you can ask.”

Morgan showed some first-game rust with high balls and sometimes threw just too hard, which triggered Jonas to yell from the sideline, “James, stop throwing the ball so hard!”

Maybe it wasn’t a vintage performance from Morgan, but much is expected of him this season, because his talent is so obvious. When he throws incomplete, you’re almost surprised.

This expectation level isn’t fair because defenses are going to be pumped to face Morgan. He’s a target.

Nonetheless, Jonas is hardly worried about what will happen this season with Morgan. The Bowling Green recruit will play well, because he’s too good not to.

“We had people open and didn’t hit on and sometimes it went off people’s hands other times,” Jonas said. “They blitzed like crazy. That’s tough to manage when they bring seven and you have five.

“This is what we’re going to get every week; we have to get used to it. We put up 31 points, no complaints.”

West ends streak
Green Bay West ended its losing streak at 45 games when it defeated crosstown rival Green Bay East, 30-29. It was the 109th meeting between the teams.

West coach Jeff Behrendt was feeling good about his team’s win the day after and thinks the team can win more games.

“It definitely gives the team more confidence,” Behrendt said. “I have to be honest with you the team is confident already. We felt going good into this one and we’re ready to go. Absolutely helps build more of the confidence they already have. We’re not satisfied with one win.”

Could West win two in a row? It plays at Sheboygan South on Friday. South fell at Notre Dame last week, 49-26.

Xavier rally
After Matt Ferris threw for a state-record 50 TD passes last season, whoever was to replace him likely was going to feel pressure during Week 1.

Zach Simons felt the pressure in Week 1 as Xavier trailed Berlin, 32-8, in the third quarter. But then he and the offense came together and staged a comeback that should give the team confidence.

Xavier outscored Berlin, 32-0, the rest of the way and beat the Indians, 40-32. For the game, Simons was 20 of 35 for 326 yards with three TDs and two INTs. He also rushed 12 times for 109 yards.

Simons gives Xavier a different look with his running ability and that dual-threat option is something Xavier opponents haven’t had to deal with recently.

Fondy makes statement
The GameTime Game of the Week opened eyes after Fond du Lac outscored Appleton North, 27-0, in the second half to post an impressive 27-7 road win, ending North’s 42-game home winning streak.

The Cardinals were stymied in the first half with just 60 total yards, but rallied in the second half with 282 total yards, shredding a defense that rarely has issues.

“They got more physical up front,” North coach Rob Salm said. “We came out (to start the second half) with our defense on our field which is our strength. The good thing is it’s the first game, a lot season is left.”

As for Fondy, it has made it known it will be in the race for the Valley Football Association’s South Division title, won last year by Oshkosh North.

State champs open strong
Kimberly, Winneconne and Shiocton picked up where they left off in Madison last season, winning their Week 1 games by a combined score of 122-14.

Kimberly, the defending D2 state champ, thumped Oshkosh North, 42-6, in a rematch of the title game a year ago.

Winneconne, the defending D4 state champ, topped Ripon, 35-8, and Shiocton, the defending D6 state champ, blanked Howards Grove, 45-0.

What stood out
—Appleton North’s offense, for the wrong reason. The Lightning had no answer for Fond du Lac and was limited to seven points, and had just 58 total yards in the second half.
—Luxemburg-Casco beats Seymour, 28-21. The Thunder was expected to be a Bay Conference challenger, and still may be, but the Spartans made a statement.
—Hilbert crushes Brillion. The Wolves had a down season last year, winning just one game, but started out positive pasting the Lions, 40-0. Interested to see how both respond in Week 2

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay

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