CARSON -- Mike Morris spent his first day of retirement from coaching in the fast lane in search of new destinations and adventures.
He cruised down Interstate 5, in the passenger seat, feeding on a bag of chips, with his wife, Debbie, behind the wheel. Content as he brushed aside crumbs on a body that he said still needs a little work, Morris hours earlier tendered his resignation as Rio Linda High School’s football coach. Thirty years of coaching, 23 at Rio Linda and 10 times the memories add up to a career well done, he said.
“Oh, very much at peace with this,” Morris said. “It’s been such a great ride. I’m very proud. I couldn’t have landed at a better place than Rio Linda. It’s a nice time to go.”
In a business of burnout and change, Morris stood as an example of how to balance athletics, family and teaching U.S. History. Mike Alberghini is now the area’s longest-tenured coach, entering his 24th season at Grant.
His humble Rio Linda beginnings made Morris appreciate the good times all the more. He went 0-10 in his debut season with the Knights in 1991. Within three years, Morris had a powerhouse on his hands, fostering team-brotherhood that permeated across the campus and the community. He even coached his sons, Michael several seasons ago, and Matthew this season for what might have been the program’s finest team.
Morris on Friday was driving to Carson, site of the CIF State Bowl games, in what amounted to a full-circle journey as he will run into coaches and teammates from his youth. Today, he will be presented by CIF officials a state Model Coach award. It’s a fitting honor as Morris is best defined by his peers for his sportsmanship and success that bear 148 victories, seven league championships, 13 playoff teams and a Sac-Joaquin Section title in 2004.
He will be recognized between the first and second quarter of the Enterprise-Redding and Chaminade Division II Bowl, and score one for timing. Morris is an Enterprise graduate. Morris got the itch to coach from his Enterprise experiences – the games, his teammates and his coaches.
“It’s too much coincidence to be a coincidence,” Morris said. “It’s the perfect way to end.”
Morris corrected himself. The perfect conclusion really plays out next week. He is the North coach for the 57th Optimist All-Star Game that will be played next Saturday at Folsom, a senior showcase that includes his son Matthew, a standout center for Rio Linda this season.
And then Morris had another thought.
“My wife chimed in that I have a 23-year ‘honey-do’ list at home I need to start working on,” Morris said. “Maybe I should reconsider.”
Fans inside a packed gym and two teams stood, heads bowed, for a moment of silence Tuesday night to honor Josh Davis.
A popular senior football player and wrestler at Cosumnes Oaks, Davis died last week in a car accident. He spent his freshman year at nearby Franklin. When the schools met in a nonleague basketball game, all hands joined in to remember Davis. The student rooting sections later exchanged chants of “We love, JD!” It was a moving scene as these Elk Grove Unified School District rivals united as one.
Around the region
• Inderkum quarterback C.J. Spencer and Woodcreek running back Mitchell Layton have given verbal commitments to UC Davis.
• Jesuit and De La Salle will meet in an early-season football game next year, a first-time meeting. Jesuit is coached by Marlon Blanton, a former De La Salle player and coach.
• Tyler Trosin of American River College was named to the JC Athletic Bureau All-America team as a return specialist. Sierra linebacker Austin Wyatt-Thayer and defensive back Zack Starnes were also named All-America.
• ARC players on the JC Athletic Bureau All-State team: Trosin, running back Drake Tofi, linemen Bobby Keenan, Sully Weifels and Karmah Yates and defensive back Malcom Scott. From Sierra: Starnes, Wyatt-Thayer and offensive lineman Jordan Finley.
Follow The Bee’s Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.