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Impact player: Ferriday linebacker likes to grind it out on gridiron

Ferriday High School’s Shannon Morales carries the football during practice Wednesday. Morales will start at middle linebacker and play quarterback in a backup role. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)
Ferriday High School’s Shannon Morales carries the football during practice Wednesday. Morales will start at middle linebacker and play quarterback in a backup role. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

FERRIDAY — Name any position in football.

Chances are Shannon Morales has played it at a certain point in his high school football career.

The Ferriday senior linebacker is preparing for his last season on the gridiron after what he called the craziest season of his football career. In the first game of the season against Natchez High School, starting quarterback Ronald Williams went down with a broken collarbone. This opened the door for a defensive specialist to get under center.

“I had to do it, because our freshman was hurt,” said Morales who’s played quarterback, running back, tight end, wide receiver, defensive end and middle linebacker. “I’m in a backup role now at quarterback.”

Because of circumstance, Morales was doing his best impression of his favorite football player — Cam Newton.

“Um, something like that,” Morales said, laughing.

Morales, who Ferriday head coach Cleothis Cummings said runs a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash, used his 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame and mobility to produce a spark offensively for Ferriday last season, even though he was often under pressure in the backfield. He totaled 1,503 passing yards, 46 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Morales stumbled at times during the transition, throwing 18 interceptions in 2013. The tale of 2014 will be different if Williams’ health holds up.

“I just want to grind, man,” Morales said. “I’m more of an athlete. I feel like linebacker is my best position.”

It would be out of the norm if Morales wasn’t making a position change going into another season. The senior will move from defensive end to linebacker in 2014, a move that Cummings hopes pays off for the team.

“From sideline to sideline, he can do some damage,” Cummings said.

Assistant coach Charles Cothern Jr. said Morales would be a key player for the Trojans’ defense next season, anticipating a breakout from the senior. Cummings agreed.

“I’m waiting on him to develop into that monster,” said Cummings, sizing up Morales as he looked out of his office window. “He has it in him. He’s built like a rock.”

Morales, who said he has been playing football since he was 10 years old, said his desire for football increased when Cummings started coaching him in the seventh grade. Now as a senior, Morales said the bond with his coach is stronger than ever,

With Morales or without him, the senior linebacker said Ferriday was going to be a force to be reckoned with on the field. But Morales knows the Trojans will be even stronger with a “monster” leading the charge on the defensive side of the ball.