NOTE: This is Part 4 in a five-part series highlighting Pearl River's Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019.
POPLARVILLE, Miss.— The ties to legendary coach Dobie Holden run deep when it comes to the Sports Hall of Fame, with Richard Morgan the latest connection to deserve enshrinement.
Morgan will be honored as one of the five members of the Pearl River Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019 during Homecoming festivities Oct. 12. Kickoff against Southwest at Dobie Holden Stadium is set for 2 p.m.
"This is really overwhelming," Morgan said of getting the call he was being inducted. "I played ball and loved it but when you say Hall of Fame that's an elite bunch of guys. Even to be considered with them is quite the honor."
A Franklinton, Louisiana, native, Morgan played on both sides of the ball for Holden in 1950-51.
Morgan said he actually caught Holden's attention as a prep standout thanks to a teammate. Three or four teammates went to work out at Southern Miss during the spring.
"We came on back and that summer Coach Holden came and talked to my high school coach and said I could come play ball on a scholarship," Morgan said. "Well that was right up my alley."
Morgan began his PRCC career at running back in 1950, helping the Wildcats build a 6-3-1 record. During the campaign, PRCC's offense eclipsed 27 points five times and shellacked rivals Gulf Coast (then Perkinston) 33-0 and Jones College (then Jones County) 34-13 in the season finale.
The following season Morgan moved to the defensive side of the ball. Despite only being 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds, Morgan starred as a shutdown defensive back in Holden's scheme. With Morgan roaming the secondary, the Wildcats went 9-2 with a Memorial Bowl berth. Six times in '51 the Wildcats blanked opponents. It was arguably the stingiest defense in the league that season.
"I remember Coach Holden called me over and said I'm going to make a defensive back out of you," Morgan recalled recently. "I just loved it."
Despite his success as a shutdown defensive back for Holden, one of Morgan's fondest memories from representing the Maroon and Gold happened during his lone offensive play as a sophomore.
"We were playing in North Mississippi and at halftime the score was neck-and-neck," Morgan recalled.
While walking off the field at the break, Morgan told Holden he had an idea.
"At that time you never talked to Coach Holden unless he addressed you first," Morgan said. "I told him, Coach, their defense is stacking the line. I play defense, their guy is up in the man's face. I said, if you put Jimmy Mason and let him go in at flanker and run a fly pattern, he'll run right past that guy and Doug Daniels and hit him."
The second half starts and the opponent kicks to the Wildcats. Pearl River works the ball down to the opposition's 35 and Morgan hears his name.
"He hollered at me, 'Come here Morgan!'" he said.
Holden told Morgan that hewas going to run the fly pattern, nothis teammate.
Yes sir, Morgan shouted as he dashed off to relay the play.
"I run into the huddle and Doug asked what I was doing there," Morgan said with a laugh. "He couldn't believe it."
As was often the case back in his heyday, Holden's call worked.
"Doug laid that ball in the air just perfectly, we scored and went on to beat the tar out of them," Morgan said.
After PRCC, Morgan had a chance to join Daniels at Southeastern Louisiana. Despite excelling in his first preseason scrimmage, Morgan decided to focus on school. He went on to get married in 1954 and started his own business.
Morgan currently lives in his hometown and still manages his business.
PRCC FOOTBALL BROADCASTS
All Pearl River football games are livestreamed at PRCCAthletics.com and PRCCMedia.com. Games will also be broadcast on WRJW 1320 AM, WCJU 1450 AM in Columbia, WCJU 104.9 FM in Prentiss, and both WHSY 950 AM and WHSY 105.9 FM in Hattiesburg.
Individuals who have an Amazon Fire Stick or Roku device can also stream PRCC broadcast by downloading the "Pearl River CC" channel from the app store.