SAN DIEGO — Morse's football team is so good that its quarterback, Teddy Lawrence, showed up with a stiff back Friday afternoon and then led his team to a 40-13 thumping of Point Loma in the City Eastern League's version of Holyfield-Douglas.
This game was the subject of a heaping spoonful of buildup. If there was a team capable of toppling Morse, surely it was the second-ranked Pointers (6-1, 1-1). And Point Loma Coach Bennie Edens assured everybody that his group did indeed have a chance against the neighborhood bullies.
But a crowd of about 3,000 at Point Loma High saw Morse (8-0, 2-0) dismantle its hosts in methodical fashion, overcoming a talented defense to amass 363 yards total offense and leave Pointer running back Marlon Manassa asking for help at the day's end.
"Everybody says that I'm the heart of the offense," said Manassa, who finished with 15 carries for 49 yards. "If it's true that I'm the heart of the offense then there's something wrong with our team. I don't like that title. If it's true, we have to come up with something else."
While they do that, Morse players and coaches will continue to field this question: Is Morse one of San Diego's best high school teams ever?
Here's the opinion of Morse lineman Salua Poutoa: "This is the best team in San Diego history. I think we should be No. 1 in the nation. But we can't let our heads get big yet."
And now for something slightly more objective.
"They're one of the better ones," Edens said. "It's hard to compare years. I feel they're as good as any team in the state."
The only thing missing is a crisp passing attack. You needed only to see Lawrence attempt to throw on a muffed PAT in the first quarter to realize he is not the next coming of John Elway. The ball floated like a punt, though, in all fairness, it carried farther than most of Point Loma's punts.
Anyway, Lawrence doesn't really need to throw the ball. He runs so well that a passing attack would almost be overkill. Friday he had an off day. He rushed eight times for 121 yards. Yes, that's an off day. The average per carry is only 15.1. He entered the game with a 20.1-yard average.
"There's nobody like him," Morse Coach John Shacklett said. "I've never coached anyone like him."
Hard to stop a guy who thinks like this: "On most of our plays," Lawrence said, "if I get past the line of scrimmage I'm going to score."
That didn't exactly hold true, but Lawrence put the Tigers ahead, 26-0, with a 59-yard keeper in the third quarter. Then, after the Pointers scored twice to make it 26-13 with 9:20 to play, Lawrence threw a rare pass to receiver Tommy Bennett, who plucked the ball over cornerback Shaun Grove for a 23-yard touchdown. Lawrence wrapped his day in the final minutes with a 38-yard touchdown run.
Point Loma's passing game was noticeably absent, which can partially be attributed to a wrist injury in the second quarter to quarterback Toby Gault. He was taken for X-rays, but returned in time to lead the Pointers to their only touchdown drive of the day in the third quarter. That covered 87 yards in five plays, Gault finding yardage on three consecutive screen passes and capping it with one-yar run.
The Pointers, who managed only 111 yards total offense, scored their other points in the fourth quarter after defensive end La'Roi Glover stripped the ball from running back Gary Taylor (16 rushes, 103 yards) at the Morse 11 and returned it to the five. Two plays later, Gault hit tight end Charles Ensey in the end zone.
The Pointers were through, though Manassa let all his Morse pals know afterward that Point Loma is looking forward to seeing them in the playoffs.
"We'll see you all in a few weeks," he said. "That was the first half."