Editors note: This is the fourth in a six-part series previewing the football teams in the Pekin Daily Times coverage area.
One win this season will break last season’s total for the Morton football team, but first year head coach Tim Brilley believes his team will be a tough matchup in the Mid-Illini Conference, with eyes on the postseason.
“I think we can compete with anybody. I’m not going to sit here and say we’re going to go 9-0 or this and that,” Brilley said. “I don’t make any guarantees, there’s no doubt about that, but I think that if we take care of ourselves and continue to get better as the season goes along, I expect to be a playoff team. That’s kind of the standard we’re going to set. We’re not going to settle for anything less.”
After seeing five varsity wins in the last three seasons, 15 returning seniors hope to leave the program on a positive note.
One senior that can make it happen is Tucker Anderson.
The quarterback and safety has the experience and toughness to lead the Potters this season.
“We always talk about this. Our senior year is going to be a big time moving forward,” Anderson said. “I think winning five or six games would satisfy us from a standpoint of what’s happened in previous seasons, but we would like to go out with a winning record and that’s something we will be shooting for this year.”
“He’s a leader. He doesn’t say a whole lot, but he leads by example,” Brilley said. “He plays extremely hard and physical. He shows up everyday with the right attitude. He never complains. He’s a three-sport athlete so he’s committed to everything he does. He’s a model student and great role model for all the kids.”
Anderson said being a three-sport athlete contributes to his on-and-off the field leadership.
“Being able to lead and communicate with a lot of different types of guys, like the personalities on the basketball team are a lot different than on the football team,” Anderson said. “I think that being around different groups of guys helps me learn how to lead different people. It’s something that’s helped a lot.
Anderson contributed all over the field last season on both sides of the ball.
While under center, he made an impact with his arm and legs, rushing for 262 yards and passing for 817 yards.
Altogether he scored 14 touchdowns, nine of which came after scrambling out of the pocket.
This summer, Anderson worked on pass-catch chemistry with receivers Jarrett Crider, Carson Rinkenberger, Evan Heal and tight end Bryce Brekke.
“We do a lot of ladder stuff,” Anderson said. “We go out there and throw quite a bit in the offseason. This summer we’ve been out there throwing a lot. We’re hoping the passing game can be a bigger part in our game this year, so I’ve been working on that a lot in the offseason.”
On the defensive side, Anderson was third on the team in total tackles with 14.
“He’s a quarterback, but he’s also one of our best tacklers and safeties. He loves to hit,” Brilley said. “He really does epitomize that character, commitment and work ethic that we kind of hang our hat on.”
Anderson and the Potters hope to snap a nine-game losing streak when they battle Columbia at 7 p.m. on Aug. 26 at Carper Field.