Golden Valley football’s Derrese Morganfield remembers his first time seeing former NFL linebacker Ray Lewis on television.
“Whenever Ray Lewis was in, he would just not go down,” Morganfield said. “He would just smack people and I was like, I want to be that.”
So when Morganfield was 10 years old, he signed up for football and set out to be just like his pro football idol.
Now, he’s made an impact on the Grizzlies defense at both the linebacker and defensive end positions. He leads the team with 102 total tackles, according to MaxPreps.
Last season, Morganfield was brought up to varsity from JV halfway through the season. He saw time on special teams and occasionally got into the game at the linebacker position.
In the proceeding offseason, he took it upon himself to do speed training, hit the weight room and attend camps.
“I had motivation from my mom and dad and a couple of my friends and like, my idol Ray Lewis, obviously, but most of it was on me,” Morganfield said. “I had to do it myself.”
“My mom asked me, ‘You sure you want to do this?’ I said ‘Yeah, I’ve got to do it, I’ve got to do what I need to do to be a starter next year.’
He got his wish, and then some. The junior excelled at linebacker for the majority of the year, but there was a need at defensive end.
The coaching staff sought him out to join the defensive ends after witnessing his sheer athleticism and will.
“He understands the game and he’s got a motor,” said James Magee, a defensive line coach. “You got a kid with a motor that wants to be coached, you can put him anywhere and he can do well. He’s one of those type of kids.”
Morganfield tried out playing d-end during GV’s game against Valencia in the second week of league play, then officially made the switch after the game.
Although he had to learn nuances like footwork, the transition was smooth. He watched YouTube videos of pros like JJ Watt and got in practice time at the position whenever he could.
“He made an instant impact,” said CJ Ravenell, a d-end who ranks second on the team with 70 total tackles. “As soon as he came, it was just started being more pressure on the quarterback.”
“If I’m making a play, he’s there too. If he’s making a play, I’m right there with him. Like, it’s kind of like a duo type of thing. It’s fun. I enjoy having him on the other side playing with me.”
Morganfield is entering the CIF-Southern Section semifinals on Friday with a ring on his mind.
“I could be a part of a team that we can win,” he said. “We can get a ring. We can get a ring and it’s just that feeling makes you feel like, I’m part of that. I’m the reason why.”
Because like the man who inspired him to play the game, Morganfield won’t go down.