The look in Scott Morgan’s eyes said everything.
He didn’t utter a word.
Morgan’s Thomas Jefferson Raiders football was demolished and dissected 52-27 by Auburn Riverside on Sept. 16, Jefferson’s third game of the season.
Morgan looked up after moments of silence and let out a sigh. The look of disappointment, confusion and frustration still there. At 1-2, things were supposed to be different for Morgan, who finally took over the Raiders head coaching duties after assisting the program off and on since 2002.
As an assistant, he helped lead Jefferson to a league title in 2015 for goodness sake.
“This one hurts,” Morgan told the team after the game. “But it’s stretches like these that build championship teams.”
If anyone in this city has a blueprint for a championship team, it is Morgan.
Turn back the calendar three months prior to the Riverside blowout to July 18.
Morgan was named successor to the Raiders program after Jeff Zenisek left to coach White River. Immediately after taking the job in the summer, Morgan already had his team’s culture defined.
Winning is habit.
“When I first started here we were successful if we won one game,” he said in July. “I’ve been here through the ups and the downs, and it’s been a lot more ups lately than downs.”
It is safe to say last season was a downhill trend from the start.
It was particularly a struggle for the Jefferson front seven all season. The defense allowed 559 all purpose yards in the loss to the Ravens alone.
There was something to be said about the look in Morgan’s eyes after that performance, though.
It was a look stating the loss to Riverside was bottom.
Ultimately it wasn’t as the Raiders finished the season 2-8, but they never surrendered more than 52 points.
Morgan’s eyes that chilly fall night also begged for an answer the question he couldn’t ask aloud: There’s only one way to go from here, right?
For the rest of the 2016 season, the answer to that question was unequivocally no.
But, as 2017 fall camp gets underway on Aug. 16, that look of intensity on Morgan’s face is as memorable as ever.
While it was a look that expressed disappointment, confusion, frustration and a litany of unanswered questions, it started to reveal things, too.
Like, don’t expect this kind of performance from Jefferson next year.
Losing is not associated with Morgan — period.
Not only did he help coach the Raiders to a league championship in 2015, he also won a Division II NAIA National Football Championship with Central Washington in 1995.
Morgan and the Jefferson football program have a lot to look forward to this fall.
Like 5 foot 9 inch, 170-pound sophomore running back Charles Wright, or senior halfback Jayvon Buckley. Not to mention their upperclassmen-heavy offensive and defensive lines.
The Raiders have a bright future with Morgan, who has bled red and gold for 15 years.
Will they compete for the league title in 2017? Most likely no.
Are they better than the two-win team from 2016? They should be.
The Jefferson Raiders got their man when they landed Morgan in July 2016.
And when Morgan unleashed that gaze after a second straight loss on Sept. 16, his message was loud and clear.
The losing will not continue for much longer.
Jerod Young is the sports reporter for the Mirror. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.