"I'm really glad he came back. He's a tremendous leader with a phenomenal work ethic. In 14 years of coaching, I've not had an athlete like this before. I have a lot of respect for that young man."
Morgan has competed in both sports every year of his high school career. In the end, he just couldn't walk away from soccer.
"Soccer I've played all my life," Morgan said. "They're both great, and they're both totally different environments. Cross country is smaller, more tight-knit. Soccer is just all guys, and that's fun too. They're both great sports."
However, two sports in one practice-and-event-filled fall can be a juggling act. There are always times when cross country meets coincide with soccer games. Morgan's grown used to it, and he said it all comes down to the overall importance of each individual event.
"If I have an all-comers cross country meet, I'll be at the soccer game. But if I have just a game against not-that-great of a team, then I'll be at cross country," Morgan said.
His practice schedule can also be a problem. Conley said the two teams have grown accustomed to having to make adjustments, and the coach said his soccer teammates don't hold his absences against him.
"None of them have ever given him any grief. They know how hard he's working," Conley said. "There have been days where he's run cross country in the morning then come and played for us in the evening, which I think is absolutely outrageous."
Doing both has benefits in each sport
Morgan won't go so far as to say his teammate relations have been grief-free - "They tease me a little bit, but they understand overall," he said - but he said he's found that doing both has benefits in each sport.
"Cross country helps me with my endurance to play soccer, so I can play a whole lot longer than I could if I didn't do it," Morgan said. "Soccer just helps me with that final kick in cross country, which I'm pretty proud of. It's pretty cool."
Morgan was a standout in cross country last year, but he was a key element of the Boyle soccer team that captured the school's first 15th Region title last season. He said that experience will help the Rebels as they try to defend their championship.
"We have a real chance of going for that again and maybe going further, hopefully," Morgan said. "We'll be a lot calmer. We'll know how the refs handle everything instead of just going in there and finding out they're a whole lot stricter than what we're used to."
Conley said despite the loss of the team's goalkeeper and two central midfielders, he thinks the Rebels could repeat.
"That's going to be our goal coming in," Conley said. "The first goal is to get out of district and move on from there. But with what we have coming back, I feel really good about this year as long as we can stay healthy."
Injury is a real concern for Conley when it comes to Morgan. As a cross country runner, Morgan relies on his legs and his stamina. Conley knows that soccer can lead to serious injuries.
"My biggest fear is injury," Conley said. "Because he's so dedicated to cross country, I don't want soccer to hinder his goals, as a senior, in cross country. All you can do is pray to the good Lord that he stays healthy and has a good year."
For his part, Morgan said he seriously considered focusing on cross country as he wants to pursue running in college. However, he also figured he's been doing both sports for years.
"Why slack off now? College is going to be hard, so I'll just keep on going," Morgan said.