When Mike Collins took the job at River Ridge two years ago, one of the first players he met with was running back Amehre Morrison.
Collins wanted to instill upon Morrison what was going to be required under the new regime. Collins laid out his vision and it was on the rising sophomore to work toward those goals.
After River Ridge locked up its first region championship in program history this fall, Collins revisited that initial conversation.
“I told him I knew we were going to be here,” Collins said. “There were some things that he needed to hear at the time when I first got here. As a coach, you realize you can’t do it without your players. If your main guys don’t buy in and sell what you’re trying to sell, it can never happen.”
The results for Morrison became apparent in 2019 when he finished with a county-best 1,328 total offensive yards, but it was as a junior when the electric playmaker helped make his name — and that of the River Ridge program — known beyond Cherokee County.
Morrison finished the 2020 season with numbers that may stand for a while within the River Ridge record books. Leading the best offense in program history, Morrison led the county with 1,958 yards and 29 touchdowns.
Morrison added 24 receptions for 260 yards and was named the Region 7AAAAAA Player of the Year. He earned first-team all-state honors and finished as the second-leading rusher in Georgia.
As a result of his accomplishments, Morrison is the 2020 Cherokee Tribune Football Offensive Player of the Year.
“It’s an honor to see that hard work and all that offseason training pay off,” Morrison said. “I have to thank all my teammates, all the seniors and, specifically, my O-line.”
Morrison was undoubtedly one of the best offensive players in the state. He recorded more than 100 rushing yards in 10 of the 12 games and scored at least one touchdown in every contest.
Morrison recorded game-winning touchdowns against Creekview and Kennesaw Mountain, along with all three scores in a 21-14 win over Riverwood. His season-highs came in a 52-35 win at Chattahoochee, with 318 rushing yards and five touchdowns, but it was the game where he finished with his least number of yards for which he was most proud.
Morrison finished with a season-low 65 rushing yards against Creekview, but he scored and the end of regulation and again in the first overtime to seal the Knights’ first win over the Grizzlies.
“To close out that win, it was awesome,” Morrison said. “Just fighting through everything, that’s what I’m proud of from this year. We didn’t even know if we were going to have a season. We had to keep fighting, pushing and working hard — and here we are. We got the playoffs, but we lost and we want to get back to that point, and even further. That’s our mindset, and it just takes hard work to get there.”
Containing Morrison was the focus of the opposing defense each and every week, yet he still produced. Morrison’s 77-yard touchdown run against Lee County in the state quarterfinals put River Ridge within striking distance against the eventual state runner-up, and he managed 126 total yards against one of the best defenses in the state.
Despite his 5-foot-8, 165-pound frame — or maybe because of it — Morrison continues to prove doubters wrong. Heading into the offseason, he has a college offer from Presbyterian and has drawn attention from Georgia Southern and Kent State.
Collins said Morrison plays with a chip on his shoulder, and he was not shy about comparing Morrison to some of the best players he has ever coached.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to coach some very special players on the offensive side of the ball, and I would put Amehre right there with every last one of them,” said Collins, who was an assistant at Cherokee when future Georgia Southern star and Walter Payton Award winner Jayson Foster was a Warriors standout.
“I’m serious. I think he’s that good, and the fact that he’s only a junior is even more ridiculous. He makes plays throughout the game, but he also made a lot of those big plays in key moments. He has that ability to raise his game in those moments.”