INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Football players at Ben Davis High School took the field with heavy hearts Friday night.
Earlier this week, Mike Morris, the coach for the freshman team, died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Head coach Mike Kirschner said it’s been a tough week trying to plan for a big game while also grieving. The staff and players were close to coach Morris, that’s why honoring him with a special tribute Friday was a part of their game plan.
It’s not easy trying to fire up your team for a win when all you can think about is a painful loss.
“He’s not here at practice; he’s not here on the sideline during the game,” said coach Kirschner. “It’s just been a little somber around the locker room. The kids know they’ve lost a friend.”
That friend was coach Morris, the man who once led the players, and even wore a purple jersey himself years ago. He graduated from BDHS in 1995 and soon after dedicated himself to teaching the next generation of football players like Kentonio Allen.
“He’s always inspiring kids to do better and motivate them to do better on the field and stuff like that, on and off the field as well,” said Allen.
Morris’ wife Keisha knew that better than anyone else.
“He was a wonderful father, husband, coach, football player,” she said. “He just loved the sport. He just loved people, loved the children and we couldn’t ask for a better way to bring things home.”
Before the game, coach Kirschner delivered a jersey signed by the players, a ball signed by the coaches, and possibly the jersey Morris wore while in high school. It was later followed by a moment of silence.
It carried into the locker room until it was broken by the inspirational words only a coach could convey.
“Understand that coach Morris is up there and he’s coming together with us tonight,” Kirschner said to the players. “When you take the field tonight, on our helmets is a ribbon because you’re taking a piece of coach Morris with you.”
Services were held for Morris earlier in the day.
Coach Kirschner said Morris will be buried with his support for Ben Davis shining brightly. On Morris’ hand is his ring from the 2014 state championship.