Kelley seniors work to lead Comets by example
BY MARK COOPER World Sports Writer
Thursday, May 31, 2012
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The workout beat up Cory Bright. He was so fatigued from his first day of training at Dynamic Sports Development on Wednesday that he crashed for an early-afternoon nap soon after.
Bright was alerted to the program at DSD by Bishop Kelley teammate Austin Morris. The summer training is far more intense than the football the two first played together back in the third grade, but it is a necessary step as they become role models for their Comets teammates as seniors.
"I feel we need to whip into shape," said Bright, a safety and running back. "We need to get it going. For me and Austin, I feel we need to push ourselves conditioning-wise so we can play both sides of the ball if need be."
Morris is the clear leader of the Bishop Kelley offense, a three-year starter at running back who carried the Comets with some big games last season. Bright enters his second season as a starter on defense.
Bright and Morris have played together for nearly a decade, but their routes to their current statuses on Bishop Kelley are entirely different. Bright jumped from position to position before settling in at safety and running back. He played tight end, and was a left guard his freshman year. He slotted into a starting defensive back role before last season.
"I've switched positions all the time and he's always been the running back," Bright said.
Morris shouldered the largest load for a Bishop Kelley offense that relied on the run last season. He rushed for 210 yards on 21 carries against Coweta, He could likely break some all-time rushing records at the school by the end of this year, head coach J.J. Tappana said.
He and Bright are longtime close friends. So when Morris signed up to train at DSD, he encouraged Bright to join.
"Not only is it the verbal aspect, it's leading by example," Morris said. "Just being accountable and holding other people accountable."
Bishop Kelley has four new starters on the offensive line, along with a new quarterback. Sophomore Ryan Martin may enter the year as the starter after Brady Goforth suffered an injury last week.
With so many new parts, the Comets will be reliant on Morris in the early going as everyone fits into place.
"He's a very explosive kid," Tappana said. "He is probably the most coachable kid we've had; all you have to do is tell him, you don't have to show him, you don't have to go out on the field, you can literally just tell it to him in the locker room and it gets done immediately at full speed."
The defense is more experienced, with Bright being one of the standouts. Tappana said Bright is probably as good as Morris, but his primary focus will be in the secondary.
Together, the close friends and leaders of the offense and defense are tone-setters for Bishop Kelley. The summer training that started this week is just the beginning.
"I have an upper edge while we practice because I know most of the stuff," Bright said. "I just feel more of a coaching role toward the younger kids and other players."
2011 record: 8-3
Coach: J.J. Tappana (ninth season, 55-32)
»» Bishop Kelley may enter the season with a sophomore as its starting quarterback. Depending on the recovery of Brady Goforth, who was injured last week, the team might need to turn to his backup, sophomore Ryan Martin. Head coach J.J. Tappana called the injury severe and said Goforth will not be back until early in the season.
Whether or not Goforth is back in time for the season opener, Martin will prepare as if he is going to be the starter.
"I think he's up for the job," Tappana said. "I think he's going to be a good football player for us. We're really pleased that we have the opportunity to have him in that role."
»» Tappana's biggest project this spring has been transitioning a new offensive line. Bishop Kelley returns one starter on the line, but Tappana said the Comets have the players ready to fill in.
They just need to find the right slots for each lineman.
"The learning curve has been a little higher this spring than normal for our offensive line," Tappana said. "We've got the kids to put them in, we've just got to put them in the right places."
Running back Austin Morris' experience and explosiveness could alleviate the line's inexperience in Bishop Kelley's first few games.
»» Tappana said he feels better on defense than he does on offense coming out of the spring. Cory Bright is a cornerback Tappana named specifically as a dynamic talent. Bishop Kelley has depth all over its defense, especially at safety and linebacker.
Andrew McNulty and Dakota Stowe are returning starters at linebacker who are also expected to be playmakers.
Said Tappana: "Together in combination, two of the better linebackers we've had in a while."
(subject to change)
|Aug. 31: Bartlesville
|Sept. 7: at McGuinness
|Sept. 14: at Coweta
|Sept. 21: Hale
|Sept. 28: at Durant
|Oct. 5: Noble
|Oct. 12: at Shawnee
|Oct. 19: at McAlester
|Oct. 26: Memorial
|Nov. 2: Skiatook
Mark Cooper 918-581-8355
Austin Morris, a three-year starter at running back, is a clear leader of the Bishop Kelley offense. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World file