“This really is a senior led team this year, and that’s kind of unique for us,” Counter said. “Last year our senior class wasn’t the biggest and we had a lot of young guys starting, but this year we really have a lot of seniors that are going to play key roles.
Morton Ranch has been knocking on the door of the playoffs each of the past two seasons.
In 2020, the Mavericks were a point away from beating Seven Lakes in the two teams matchup, which would have put Morton Ranch in the playoffs. A year later, Morton Ranch again missed out by one game, this time finishing fifth behind Cinco Ranch.
For a school that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016, it’s been a frustrating time. But that has just made this year’s Morton Ranch team more determined than ever to break the streak.
“This really is a senior led team this year, and that’s kind of unique for us,” said Morton Ranch head coach Ron Counter. “Last year our senior class wasn’t the biggest and we had a lot of young guys starting, but this year we really have a lot of seniors that are going to play key roles. But this year there’s 14 or 15 seniors starting. We usually don’t have that so it’s a really cool thing.”
The Mavericks believe this year is the year they can break their six year playoff drought and the whole team has been focused on that since the end of last season. At the center of that push are the two keys to the engine of the Morton Ranch offense, senior running back Santana Scott and senior quarterback Josh Johnson.
The two nearly combined for nearly 3,000 yards last season in total, with Scott rushing for 1242 and 12 touchdowns while also leading the team receiving with 369 yards and four touchdowns. Meanwhile Johnson is a threat both through the air and on the ground. He passed for 1080 yards and eight touchdowns a season ago while rushing for 280 yards and eight scores. They expect to be the leaders of the offense again this year, but they will be surrounded by a strong supporting cast, especially at the skill positions.
Mike Gerald brings size and explosiveness to the receiver position and will provide a strong option through the air, while Ryan Hall will take some of the load off of Santana Scott and brings a good change of pace with his size at the running back position. Zach Session is back to lead the offensive line in what has a chance to be a strong group.
“It’s the first time since I’ve been here that we’ve had a quarterback that has been on varsity and played the position on varsity since his sophomore year,” Counter said. “That’s huge for us, and then to pair that with Santana, another three year varsity guy, Zach Session is another dude that’s really talented and has that experience too. We’ve never been this experienced, especially on the offensive side of the football and it’s exciting.”
Defensively, there are a few more question marks, but the team does return five starters for last season. Jamill Lindsey is the leader of the unit after garnering all-district honors last season and Dean Ford brings a huge presence to the linebacker unit, while Carsen Luna joins him as a strong contributor.
“We have some really good players on that side of the ball,” Counter said. “Jamill is coming off a year where he made first team all-district, Dean Ford at linebacker has really grown and gotten better and we’re looking for some big things from him. The biggest thing for us is depth. We don’t have the same numbers as a lot of other Katy ISD schools, so we have to do everything we can to stay healthy.”
The secondary will need to come along quickly, as they will face a gauntlet to start the district schedule, playing four straight teams that made the playoffs last year in Paetow, Katy, Cinco Ranch and Seven Lakes.
But Counter is sure his squad is up for the moment. And he and the Mavericks can’t wait to get back on the field and show that they can make some noise in this district.
“We’ve had such a great offseason, such a great summer,” Counter said. “There was such a great effort in the spring and the spring game was probably the best we’ve had since I’ve been here. It’s just exciting. We’re ready to get things rolling, have two really good non-district games and then get ready for the grind.”