It was a mid-April day at Madison High School, in Rexburg, Idaho. Tim Morley, a freshman at the time, was practicing his hand-offs with his 4x100-meter relay team. Parker, one of the sprinters, wasn’t in his place. Morley looked around for him, and then saw him walking out of the gym.
“He had this terrible look about him,” Morley remembers.
Parker then told Morley, his best friend since third grade, that he and his father were relocating to a nearby high school. It was saddening news, but it also changed everything for Morley on the football field.
2,100 yards passing
Parker was the coach’s son, and Morley knew that no matter what he did, it was going to be tough to become the starter.
Morley realized, however, that he was being given an opportunity to prove himself now that his best friend was skipping town.
“I always say the Lord will provide the way, but I have to do the work,” Morley said.
Finally, the door opened when Morley was a junior. He led his team to a 5-4 finish that year, throwing for more than 2,100 yards and 20 passing touchdowns. Nine out of 10 plays was a passing play.
Following his junior season, Morley faced a quandary. He was comfortable in Rexburg. He had a lot of friends there and he was about to rule the school as a senior. But Morley knew if he wanted to get the looks from college scouts, he needed a bigger stage.
“My dad and I started talking, and despite the enormous success I had my junior year, I was having a hard time getting looks with colleges,” Morley said.
2,500 miles later …
His parents, Thomas and Valerie, were considering retirement and took a trip to Palm Coast to meet with Matanzas Pirates coach Keith Lagocki. Thomas always told his son that if he wanted to play in college, he would have to make sacrifices.
“Valerie and I were planning on coming to Florida, but we probably pushed it a year or two before we had planned,” Thomas said. “We felt like Timmy had this opportunity, and Florida provided some things that Idaho didn’t.”
Morley’s sister, Beth, who is a currently a sophomore at Matanzas, also made a sacrifice to relocate. Beth was an avid ballroom dancer in Idaho, something that she hasn’t been able to get back into since moving to the East Coast. Morley said he often reminds himself of the sacrifice his sister made for him.
In January 2010, Morley and his family made the move.
“It was the single most difficult decision of my life,” Morley said Tuesday. “I was taking a step in the dark because I knew nothing about this place. I went in completely blind to everything.”
Though this season hasn’t gone the way Morley envisioned as far as wins and losses, it has still been successful. His former high school only won one game this year, while Matanzas has won three, including the preseason game.
He has also shattered several Matanzas football records. Heading into the Pirates’ final game against Fernandina Beach Friday, Nov. 12, he has accumulated more than 1,200 yards, thrown for eight TDs, and has rushed for six, which are all Pirates’ records at QB. Lagocki said he will own every QB record after this season.
“He’s fought hard,” Thomas said of his youngest son. “He’s given it all from day one. He comes out hard each week, and I think he’s grown up a lot. I think he’s matured in many ways, and sometimes that comes with losses.”
Morley said his improved running game makes him a marketable dual-threat for college programs. The 6-foot, 170-pound gunslinger prides his arm accuracy, but also enjoys showing off his 4.55-second 40-yard speed.
Lagocki said Morley’s work ethic and coachability will help him reach the next level.
“He just has unlimited potential for success because he’s such a sponge and he just wants to learn,” he said.
Heading for Ivy?
And so, with the season winding down, Morley has his sights set on fulfilling his life dream: playing Division 1 college football.
He’s been heavily recruited by the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school in Division 1-AA. The Quakers are reigning champions of their conference, and are in first place this season at 5-0, and 7-1 overall.
Morley realizes if he plays in college at all, it’ll be an accomplishment. “I’m in the top 3% of high school players in the country,” he said.
And though Morley sports a 3.6 GPA, he knows that going to an Ivy League school will take a lot of work both with the playbook and the textbooks.
Morley said freshmen are required to spend three hours locked in a room with tutors to get their studying done.
In college, Morley plans to major in pre-med with a biology degree. He hopes to become an orthopedic surgeon.
“I want to be the guy who athletes see to be put back on the field,” Morley said.
Wherever football takes him, he’s sure to enjoy the journey.
Contact Andrew O'Brien at [email protected].