‘He’s got a live leg’
Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 3, 2022
Alejandro Morillon thriving on the gridiron for the Titans after leaving soccer behind
By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier
The last two seasons of West Forsyth football have included a few moans from the crowd wondering who the player is kicking for the Titans.
That would be senior Alejandro Morillon, the place-kicker/punter for West Forsyth, who has turned those doubters into believers once his strong foot meets the ball.
At 5-foot-10, 245 pounds, Morillon, the son of Mexican immigrants who was born here, doesn’t have the prototypical physique that might normally be found from a top-level kicker. That doesn’t matter to him, even though he grew up watching and playing another type of football — soccer.
“I was a soccer player my entire life, up to sophomore year. And then junior year, I was going to play soccer again,” he said. “It was during sophomore year, at the end of the soccer season, when Coach (Adrian) Snow came up to me and some of my coaches, saying that they needed a football kicker.
“My coaches and the teachers told him that there was a really good kid on the soccer team that has a really strong leg. So, Coach Snow gave me a call. He told me that if I wanted to try to play football as a kicker, give it a shot.”
Before that conversation with Snow, Morillon had no inkling about playing football for the Titans.
“That was the first time he asked me. At first, I was like, ‘I’m not really interested because I just wanted to keep on playing soccer,” Morillon said. “And then as time went by, he asked me again, saying it would be really good. So, then I gave it a shot.”
Snow said the conversation with the soccer coaches came about during COVID-19.
“It was during COVID and he was struggling academically,” Snow said. “We called, talked to him, and he thought, ‘You know, I’ll give it a shot.’
“And literally he flipped the switch academically. He did a great job, finished his semester strong, and then it was on. The rest is history.”
Despite wanting to kick for the Titans, he had to convince his family, who loves soccer. His father, Jose (who goes by Clever), mother Lisbeth, 20-year-old brother Clever Jr., and 11-year-old sister Isabella had to be coaxed, but they were all in after hearing why he wanted to kick.
“My dad always wanted my brother and me to play soccer all the way up until high school,” Alejandro Morillon said. “And when I told him that I had the opportunity to play football, I talked to him about it.
“I was like, ‘I wanted to quit soccer and focus more on football.’ And he was happy with that decision. He supported me.”
That inquiry that Snow put out to Morillon has more than paid off.
“I wanted to try something new,” Morillon said. “Yeah, That’s pretty much it. I fell in love with kicking. I quit soccer to focus more on football.”
It wasn’t just Snow who had confidence that Morillon could be a successful place-kicker and punter. Morillon found a mentor at West Forsyth in Chuck Lott, who is the kicking coaching coach for the Titans. He also helps coach the track team.
“Two summers ago, I was at track practice and Snow said, and he had Alejandro. We call him Alex. And (Snow) had Alex out on the football field, and he said, ‘Lott, come over here and take a look this kid.’ And I said, ‘Wow,’” Lott said.
“And Snow said, ‘Do you think you can work with him?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely.’ So, that was my start with Alex. And we have been working together ever since.”
In less than two years since he took up kicking, Morillon has evolved a great deal as a kicker and student.
“When I first saw him kick, I knew he was extremely talented,” Lott said. “It was very obvious. Plus, he had size…Alex is big. He’s about 245 pounds. He’s powerful and I knew that he was going to be good. But he needed to learn the technique.”
In essence, Morillon has almost become like a son to Lott.
“He’s always there, teaching me everything,” Morillon said. “And he’s real supportive.”
That technique just had to be harnessed because kicking a football is much different than kicking a soccer ball.
“Taking his talent and trying to funnel it into technique, the technical side of it,” Lott said. “He’s amazing.”
Much like this past Monday, as West Forsyth was preparing for its rematch with East Forsyth Friday night in the first round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs, after losing to the Eagles 53-7 last Friday in the regular-season finale, Morillon and Lott were on the field at Jerry Peoples Stadium while it was pouring down rain.
Morillon kicked for 30-45 minutes and headed for the dry surroundings of the locker room.
“When I first kicked, I was kind of nervous because I wasn’t really knowing how to do it in a game,” he said. “Once I got used to it, I just really liked it. Most of my friends, family and some other people said that I was a really good kicker. They were thankful for me to play this year.
“They just kept complimenting me on my kicking. It just made me feel good about myself.”
He’s become so good that Snow sent Morillon out to attempt what would’ve been a 58-yard field goal last Friday against East Forsyth just before halftime.
“It goes off his foot well,” Snow said. “You just shut your eyes and listen to it. It’s different.”
Morillon attempted a 57-yard field goal against Davie County a few weeks ago. His kick clanged off the left upright about three-fourths of the way up.
No matter the outcome of Friday’s game, Morillon’s time at West Forsyth is quickly coming to an end.
“All my coaches push me, (Lott) and my dad,” Morillon said. “My whole family, they all push me to do my best in school, because without school and getting good grades there won’t be a next level. Even if you’re good, school’s still the most important thing now.”
That means being recruited. As of now, he’s being looked at by Winston-Salem State and Johnson C. Smith, which are Division II schools in the CIAA.
“We had to narrow those choices down to a school that was close to home because the whole family is going to go watch him play,” Lott said. “So, it had to be within an hour, hour and a half (from home).”
“…We had to narrow that pool to somewhere in North Carolina as a preference. He would not survive a junior college or college out in Oklahoma, or wherever. That’s not him. That’s not the family. So, we had to look for what was reasonable, what was in his reach, that he could succeed at.”
And he’s more than proven he’s a difference-maker, no matter what college he chooses.
“I think he’s got a chance,” Snow said. “If he can get there and do well, he’s got some tools that some others don’t, which is kind of nice. I mean, he’s got a live leg.”
“I just focus more on what I say about myself, my family, coaches,” Morillon said. “I just focus more on the positive things to say and that’s what helps me to go, just do better.”