The name etched onto Jared Morrison’s wrist tape memorializes the man who instilled in him a passion for football, and so much more.
Each time he slips on his helmet and shoulder pads, Morrison again feels the strong connection to the coach, passionate fan and loving father who can no longer sit in the stands and cheer him on.
“I write my father’s name on my wrist tape,” Morrison said. “Before I walk onto the field, I look up to the sky, and down at my wrist tape and think of him. I play football, and do everything, in honor of him.”
In February of 2018, Jared’s father — Ed Morrison — died in a tragic accident.
Driven by the memory of the person who taught him the game, the 6-foot, 150-pound Morrison won the starting quarterback job for Timberlane this fall for the first time as a senior.
Now, each time he takes the field to lead the Owls, he does so with his late father in his heart.
“Football makes me feel close to him again,” said Jared, who also wears a #Morrisonstrong band on his arm. “I play football for him. Everything I know about football, I learned from him. Whatever I do, I dedicate it to him. On and off the field, I want to make him proud.”
FOOTBALL AND FAMILY
From an early age, football was a shared passion for Jared and Ed Morrison.
Ed, a former Peabody High receiver, was tossing a football with his son as soon as Jared could walk, sparking a passion for the game that still burns bright.
“Football was always on our minds,” said Jared. “We were always out throwing spirals back and fourth. We were either playing catch or talking about football.”
Some of their most memorable moments were when Ed coached Jared in Pop Warner football, which included a state title.
“He coached me from the time I was 6-years-old,” said Jared. “It wasn’t always easy. He taught me to work for everything I have. Nothing important comes easy. He always pushed me to be my best. He knew he could get the best out of me. I loved having him as a coach.”
LOSS, AND MOVING FORWARD
Jared had wrapped up his first season as Timberlane’s backup quarterback and had turned his attention to basketball and his junior football season as 2017 turned to 2018.
Then, in February, tragedy struck when his father died at just 46-years-old.
When the next fall arrived, Morrison’s return to the gridiron was an emotional one, facing his first football season without his dad.
“It was tough to play football again,” he said. “It hurt, but I always know that he’s with me. I know he’s with me when I play football.”
Morrison credited his family — and the support of his football teammates — with helping him return to normalcy.
“My friends and teammates helped me so much,” he said. “A bunch of the guys were always there for me. And my mom (Roxanne Morrison) has meant so much to my life. She goes out of her way to put my sister (Corinne) and I first and I could never thank her enough.”
After once again serving as Timberlane’s backup QB last fall, rushing for a touchdown against Salem and throwing a TD against Windham, Morrison set a clear goal for his final season.
“It was very important to him to be the quarterback of this team as a senior,” said Timberlane head coach Kevin Fitzgerald. “I was clear to him after last season that, if he wanted the job, he would have to earn it. And he proved he was the best guy for the job.”
Morrison focused on intense training in the offseason — including tutelage from former Timberlane star QB and now UNH kicker Jason Hughes and 2018 Owls starter Dan Hayes — and this summer won the starting job.
“(Jared) has had to deal with things in his life that most kids his age have not,” said Fitzgerald. “He doesn’t get rattled when I bark at him for missing a slant on a Tuesday practice because he’s dealt with a lot more adversity than that. He keeps things in perspective.”
Morrison now hopes to lead Timberlane — which opened the season last week with a loss to Manchester Memorial — to a memorable season, with his father in his mind and heart.
“We’re a hungry team,” said Morrison. “All we want to do is win, and we feel like we can do it. I know my father is watching me. I owe so much to him, and I know he will always be with me.”
Contact David Willis at @DWillisET
Football focus: Finally a starter
Jared Morrison, who grew up in Danville and now lives in Plaistow, fulfilled a dream last week when he started his first game for the Owls at quarterback.
“Ever since I walked into the doors at Timberlane as a freshman, it’s been my dream to be the starting quarterback,” said Morrison, who served as varsity backup and JV quarterback the last two years.
“I was pretty nervous for my first snap. But as the game went on, I got used to the pace. Being under the lights was a great feeling.”
And what was his favorite play?
“We had a fourth-and-22 with about a minute left,” he remembered. “I rolled to my left and hit a wheel route to Cam Lovett for a first down. That was exciting.”