Alex Morrell: A Magician With the Ball
Sun. March 25, 2012 at 3:22 a.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
By SOLANGE REYNER | THE LEDGER
LAKELAND | One coach said some of his moves looked like magic tricks.
Another mentioned his knack for making defenders miss.
Even his own coach stood in awe at how he would turn a bad situation into a scoring opportunity.
To say George Jenkins' Alex Morrell gave opposing coaches headaches is an understatement.
"I had to game-plan around Alex. Bottom line," Auburndale coach Guy Jennings said.
"I never saw the kid play half speed," Ridge Community coach Micheal T. Blethen added.
"He works his tail off."
He has since he was little, when he started playing at four, and still does, messing around with the soccer ball at home hours after games or practices.
Morrell, a senior, is this year's PolkPreps.com boys soccer player of the year.
The forward led the county this year in scoring with 36 goals, doing so a lot of the time while being double marked.
He also had 17 assists for Jenkins, which made it to the Class 4A regional semifinals before being eliminated from the state soccer playoffs after the school discovered it had used an ineligible player in a regional quarterfinal game.
Many spectators who watched Morrell, who is of Cuban and English descent, were in awe of his skills, including his footwork and speed.
"A lot of times, he looked like he was out of control, but he knew what he was doing," his coach, Shawn Fitzgerald, said.
"There were times where I was watching him play and I was like, ‘How did he keep the ball.' I had no clue."
Morrell also had good field vision.
"I remember him running down the field one time and telling his teammates that we were set up with five midfielders," Blethen, the Ridge coach, said. "He understood how to expose that and he relayed that."
Morrell takes pride in going after defenders and loves to score and create opportunities for teammates.
His idol is none other than Lionel Messi, a 24-year-old Argentine soccer player and three-time FIFA player of the year, who is nicknamed "The Flea" because of his quickness and on-field determination.
Like Messi, Morrell is small in stature.
Messi is 5-foot-6, Morrell 5-foot-7.
That lack of height turned some colleges off, but Morrell still landed a Division I scholarship and is headed to the University of North Florida in the fall.
"I just loved the coach there and what he was doing with the program," Morrell said.
"Plus I hate cold weather."
Morrell plans to play the forward position in college.
Some are happy this was his last season in Polk County.
"He's amazing and fun to watch. But I'm glad he was a senior," Jennings joked.
Boys Soccer Coach of the Year: Lynn Haase, Fort Meade
Haase led the Miners to a district title and a Class 1A regional final, the furthest Fort Meade had made it into the post season in school history.
Boys Soccer Player of the Year: Alex Morrell, George Jenkins
Morrell led Polk County in scoring with 36 goals. He was also third in assists with 17. The senior is headed to the University of North Florida in the fall on a soccer scholarship.
First Team | All-County
Sean Whalen, Senior, George Jenkins
Antonio Arias, Junior, Ridge Community
Freddie Leon, Senior, Mulberry
Jonathan Bentham, Junior, Ridge Community
Kevin Pierre, Senior, Auburndale
Saul Estrada, Junior, Auburndale
Jake Maloney, Sophomore, Lakeland Christian
Anthony Lucido, Senior, George Jenkins
Eduardo Lopez, Sophomore, Fort Meade
Deven DeMan, Senior, George Jenkins
Jose Perez, Senior, Haines City
Jarrod Cochran, Senior, Lakeland Christian
Baron Willians, Junior, Auburndale
Nathan Richards, Junior, Auburndale
Cole Clingerman, Junior, Auburndale
Second Team | All-County
Brent Moore, Junior, Lake Region
Colin Maisch, Junior, George Jenkins
Diego Rodea, Freshman, Kathleen
Karim Bastien, Senior, Lakeland
Jordan Greene, Senior, Lakeland Christian
Austin Ruiz, Senior, Auburndale
Mitchell Rogers, Senior, George Jenkins
Mitchell Strand, Senior, George Jenkins
Jack Cortez, Junior, Fort Meade
Deigo Adan, Senior, Lake Wales
Ian Pagel, Senior, Lake Region
Sean Berringer, Senior, George Jenkins
Michael Wilk, Senior, George Jenkins
Israel Miranda, Junior, Ridge Community
Alex Sessums, Junior, Lakeland Christian
Matt Colquhoune, Junior, Auburndale
Robert Aranda, Senior, Santa Fe Catholic
Honorable Mention | All-County
All Saints Academy: F Griffin Kapp, D John Cook, MN Nelson Hughes, GK Zach Karr
Auburndale: MF Carlos Valdez, MF Kendy Pierre, MF Callahan Warren, F Diedrick Young
George Jenkins: D Adolfo Peraza, GK Chandler Jones, MF Gabriel Ferrer, MF Sam Bowles, D Cade Donker, D Noah Seitz
Haines City: MF Jason Urrita, MF Whitz Doyoute, D Frank Gonzalez, D Kenique Anderson, GK Abel Armigo, GK Christobal Benitez
Kathleen: F Gildardo Mata, Jr., D Rubens Petit-Homme, GK Branden Platt
Lake Region: MF Bradley Williams, D Fernando Aguierre, D Joel Guardyasz, D Raul Gomez
Lake Wales: MF Nic Bellarde, D Gus Rickman, Alean Mendoza, Edgar Carmen, Jonah Johnson
Lakeland Christian: D Joel Sessums
Lakeland: D Jaylin Williams, MF Antonio Delabastide, GK Logan Reger
McKeel Academy: D Brett Bowman, Jacob Clayton
Ridge Community: MF Ghandi Gaspar, D Bradley Langhorne, F-MF Travis Langhorne, F-MF Abdel Martinez, D Luis Mandujuano, GK Andres Calderon
Tenoroc: MF Jesus Cristales, F-MF Brian Useche, MF Erik Rocha
Players of the Year
2012: Alex Morrell, George Jenkins
2011: Mike Emert, Lakeland Christian
2010: Bruno DaSilva, Auburndale
2009: Carlos Ariza, Ridge Community
2008: Brock Jennings, Auburndale
2007: Louis Hepburn, Auburndale
2006: Pascal Milien, Auburndale
Coaches of the Year
2012: Lynn Haase, Fort Meade
2011: Guy Jennings, Auburndale
2010: Guy Jennings, Auburndale
2009: Matt Cooper, Bartow
2008: Rafael Garcia, Fort Meade
2007: Ryan Alvarez, Lake Gibson
2006: Dean Johnson, Lakeland Christian