The high school football season is about more than touchdowns and big plays. People come together to make the games special each week. It could be an assistant coach, a musician in the band, a cheerleader or even a reserve player. The Press will shine the spotlight one of these unsung contributors each Friday.
Will Morris plans to arrive at St. Augustine Prep at 4 p.m. Friday — two hours before the Hermits and Holy Spirit kick off in a highly anticipated matchup of rivals.
The 2000 St. Augustine Prep graduate won’t leave until all the reporters covering the game have filed the last words of their stories.
Morris, who turns 35 Saturday, is the public address announcer for many of the Hermits’ sports teams. He does football and soccer in the fall, basketball and wrestling in the winter and baseball and lacrosse in the spring. Dubbed “The Voice of the Hermits,” the Franklin Township resident is easily one of the best-known noncoaches or nonplayers in Atlantic County high school sports.
He’s also one of the best public address announcers around, almost always informing the crowd of the correct down, distance and yard line.
“It might be a St. Augustine home game,” he said, “but (many) of the fans are not there to see St. Augustine win. I try to stay neutral. It can be difficult sometimes. I was taught to be neutral.”
But Morris’ quirky personality does shine through sometimes. When there is a measurement for a first down during a football game, he will play the Sam Cooke song “Chain Gang” as it takes place.
Morris does more than just announce the games. He does statistics, posting them through his Twitter account moments after the game ends.
Many athletic directors close up their school’s press box a few minutes after a game ends. Morris always makes sure reporters covering the Hermits get plenty of time to file their stories. Morris knows first-hand how reporters feel. He once worked as a stringer for The Vineland Daily Journal.
“I hated getting kicked out of the press box,” Morris said, “and having to write in my car. I refuse to kick people out of the press box for that reason.”
Few people are more devoted or volunteer more of their time to St. Augustine than Morris.
“We’re all meant to give back in some way,” he said. “You can take the kid out of the school, but you can’t take the school out of the kid. There is something about the Hermit brotherhood. It’s hard to put into words but it truly is a family.”