Prep Football: Prairie Coach Morrissey Wants Hawks To Keep Heads Up

By Jeff Linder, Reporter

Cedar Rapids Prairie's Casey Becker (55, left) wraps up Cedar Rapids Xavier's Wes Gardner (27) in the first half of their game at Xavier on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Grant Burkhardt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Mike Morrissey’s chin trembled and his voice cracked as he addressed his team postgame.

“When you walk off this field, you hold your heads high,” he commanded. “You hang your heads for nobody.”

Cedar Rapids Prairie’s breakout football season came to an end with a 28-7 loss to third-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier in a Class 4A quarterfinal Friday night at Saints Field.

The Hawks finished 8-4 and made their deepest playoff run since they won the Class 3A state championship in 1981.

“Thank you for letting me be a part of it,” he told his team. “I love you guys, and I’m so proud of what you did.”

Prairie was 2-7 in Craig Jelinek’s final year, 2010, then matched that record last year in Morrissey’s first season.

Then came a significant ascent.

“A huge jump for this program,” said receiver Jarred Edmonds. “They’re going to continue to get better under Coach Morrissey.”

Prairie played Xavier (12-0) dead-even for much of the first half. But a pair of personal-foul penalties aided a scoring drive as the Saints tied the game, 7-7, midway through the second quarter.

Xavier led 10-7 at halftime, then dominated the second half.

The Hawks finished with 11 penalties for 115 yards, including seven personal-foul calls.

“Some of the guys didn’t come with their heads screwed on right,” Edmonds said. “You’ve got to watch yourselves.”

Morrissey said, “You can’t beat yourselves, and unfortunately we did that more than we needed to. I know these guys know better.”

Prairie won one playoff game in 14 tries from 1982 to 2011. This year’s team won two, including a 49-28 upset of No. 2 Iowa City West on Monday.

It’s a program on the rise.

“(Morrissey is) an energetic young coach,” said Xavier Coach Duane Schulte said. “It seems like his kids like to be around him and buy into what he’s selling.

“I wish him well except every time he plays us.”

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The Xavier/Cedar Falls game, and all other state semifinal and final games, can be seen live on KCRG 9.2

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