The ups and downs of being a star athlete in four sports were never more apparent than in
' senior year.
He was the MVP of the 2AA state championship football game as Salisbury (N.C.)
won its first state title in 53 years. Then in the winter he helped the basketball team reach the regional final and won the 55-meter indoor track state title in his spare time.
But when it came time for outdoor track in the spring, when Morris was the two-time defending 2A state champion in both the 100 and 200 meters, the lack of recuperation time finally caught up to him. After nursing a hamstring strain for two months, he hurt it again in the 100 meter preliminaries at last Saturday's 2A state championship meet and was forced to pull out.
Still, it's a tradeoff Morris would gladly make again.
"If I just focused on track, I'd probably be faster," Morris said. "Most people do track year round, and I do it 3-4 months out of any year and go do something else. But I like doing other sports. I like to mix it up. I don't like doing one thing all year."
After winning three team championships (two in outdoor track and one in football) and five individual championships in his high school career, Morris was named the 2011 Athlete of the Year by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.
Even with the latest adversity, Morris still plans on competing in two sports next year — he has a football scholarship to the University of North Carolina and will also run track in the spring.
"I don't want to be without a sport for two weeks," the senior said. "That's going to affect me. I want to get back in and start training as much as possible."
Salisbury track coach Darius Bryson knew Morris was special from the first time he saw him. He didn't need to see Morris just run — he just looked at the physique.
"He has muscles in places where other kids don't have them," Bryson said.
Bryson, who ran track at Western Carolina, became more impressed when he saw how coachable Morris was.
"He's the most competitive kid that I've ever coached and he just has a desire to always get better," Bryson said. "He doesn't think he knows it all. He always thinks there's things he can work on."
And then there's the obvious natural talent. Morris practiced three times the entire winter season and then ran the 55 meters in the state championship meet in 6.41 seconds.
"My fastest was a 6.4 and I was on a track scholarship," Bryson said.
The determination and natural ability also came in handy on the football field.
"It's one of those deals where as long as he's on the field we can score," Salisbury athletic director and head football coach Joe Pinyan said.
As one of many options in Salisbury's wishbone offense, Morris didn't have the opportunity to run up huge numbers, though he made the most of his chances. In 2009, he averaged 10.7 carries a game and had 11 total receptions, and he finished with 8.1 yards a rush and 24.5 yards a catch.
It was more of the same in 2010 — seven carries for 184 yards against East Rowan, eight runs for 138 yards against Lexington — en route to a 1,780-yard, 30-touchdown season.
"We very easily could have set state records with Romar, but it didn't fit the whole scheme of things for our team and he didn't want that either," Pinyan said. "He's humble enough to accept the role of being a blocker. He's more concerned about our team winning a state championship than any record."
Salisbury last won a state title in 1957, when it was known as Boyden. But with Morris in the backfield, the Hornets shrugged off a 3-3 start to win their last 10 games, including a 30-0 shutout against Northeastern (Elizabeth City, N.C.) in the 2AA state championship game.
The basketball team had already played four games by the time the football season ended, and Morris jumped right in. Just like in football, the basketball team started slowly (4-3 at Christmas break). But the Hornets won 14 of their next 15 games to advance to the state quarterfinals, with Morris as the starting shooting guard and top on-the-ball defender.
When basketball season ended in early March, Morris went right to outdoor track, where he set 2A state records in 2010 with times of 10.54 in the 100 and 21.47 in the 200.
"He could run track anywhere in the nation if he wanted too," Bryson said. "If he would just focus on track and that was it, there would be no telling what he could accomplish."
But Morris isn't interested in specializing on one thing. And while the nonstop activity might have caused a premature end to his high school career, he has no regrets.
"Just keep training — you can't settle for less," Morris said. "It you stop working hard you're not going to achieve as much as you can. I keep working every day trying to be better than I was yesterday."Harold Gutmann covers the state of North Carolina for MaxPreps.com. He lives in Durham and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.