Football: Morris named I-8/KRC Blue Lineman of the Year

Junior Kaiden Morris was named the Interstate 8/Kishwaukee River Conference Blue Division Lineman of the Year for the 2023 football season. (Photo by Marcy DeLille)

Rochelle junior earns All-Conference honors for third straight season

ROCHELLE — From the moment head coach Kyle Kissack called on him to play varsity football as a freshman, Rochelle lineman Kaiden Morris has risen to the occasion and been a difference maker on offense and defense. It was rare enough that the Hubs had a freshman starting on the varsity level, but the two-way standout went a step further by earning All-Conference honors.

Morris finished his freshman season as the starting right guard while also adding 13 tackles, four sacks and one fumble recovery on the defensive line. Morris returned for his sophomore season and earned All-Conference honors a second time, starting at right guard once again while recording 36 tackles, three sacks and two fumble recoveries in a nine-win season. 

Now a junior, Morris not only achieved the rare feat of earning All-Conference honors for a third consecutive season, but he was crowned the Interstate 8/Kishwaukee River Blue Division’s Lineman of the Year for the first time. Morris compiled 22 tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery on defense. He also remained Rochelle’s stalwart right guard, helping the Rochelle offense achieve a 1,000-yard rusher for the third consecutive season.

“Coach Kissack talked to me when I was a freshman and he asked me if I wanted to do this,” Morris said. “I told him I was all in and it was nerve racking toward the beginning, but I trusted my teammates and I had a lot of help from them… Our line was great this season and I was surprised when I found out I was the Lineman of the Year because I think everyone on our line could have earned it. We had a great season and it was an honor to receive the award.”

Morris has been an integral piece of the Rochelle football program, which has rallied off three consecutive winning seasons as well as three straight IHSA postseason berths. The Hubs went 7-3 overall and 6-0 in the I-8/KRC Blue Division this season, winning a conference title for the first time since 2004. With one more season of eligibility remaining, Morris said his goals for next season are to build more strength and to help lead the team back to the postseason.

“I think I’ve become a better leader for the team,” Morris said. “Coach Kissack told me that other players look up to me and hearing that from him really meant a lot to me. We had a great season and winning the conference was awesome. It hurt that we were paired up against a good team in the playoffs and our season ended way too soon. I want to go as far as we can next season and I want us to keep playing until we can’t anymore. I want us to be great.”

Morris was one of the 12 Rochelle players who received All-Conference honors from the I-8/KRC this season. The Hubs also saw three players take home Honorable Mentions.