How they were chosen
Athletic directors from the 14 schools — Barron Collier, Community School, Estero, First Baptist, Golden Gate, Gulf Coast, Immokalee, Lely, Marco Island Academy, Naples, Palmetto Ridge, Seacrest, St. John Neumann and South Fort Myers — in the Daily News' coverage area were contacted and asked to have their coaches nominate players. That information, along with all-conference and all-district honors and postseason performances, were used to make up the teams and choose Players of the Year.
When Manny Morgan sets his mind to something, he gets it done.
After leading the area in rushing two straight years, the Naples High back had bigger visions for his senior season. Morgan wanted to make sure he was remembered as one of the best running backs in Golden Eagles history.
With the second-most rushing yards in a single season, which put him second on Naples' all-time list, Morgan achieved his goal. By running for 2,069 yards for the regional champion Eagles, Morgan also earned the Daily News Broxson Award as the area's most outstanding football player.
"I was hoping to break 2,000 yards," the senior said. "I set that as my goal before the year. It took a lot of hard work."
Morgan's assault on the Naples record book began shortly after his junior year. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound back knew if he wasn't going to be big, he would have to be fast.
He ran track as a junior, focusing on the sprints and the jumps. Morgan also put in extra work over the summer. In addition to lifting weights with his team, Morgan would get up early and run on the beach — against the wind — to improve his leg strength and quickness.
The results were visible right away. Morgan jump-started his senior season with 351 total yards and four touchdowns in Week 1 against North Miami. It was one of three 200-yard rushing games for him. Morgan ran for more than 100 yards in 10 of his 13 games, and the other three he had at least 91 yards.
"The biggest difference was his speed," Naples coach Bill Kramer said. "He worked really, really hard. He was diligent in the offseason about improving his speed. He was very technical about it. That's the difference between rushing for 1,300 yards (as a junior) and going over 2,000."
Following three straight 1,000-yard seasons and 4,546 career rushing yards, Morgan is rivaled only by Duane Coleman in his production at Naples High School. Morgan's senior year ranks behind Coleman's 2,814 yards in 2001 as the second-best single season. Coleman, also a three-time 1,000-yard rusher, is the only back with more career yards than Morgan.
Morgan still is waiting to pick a college program. He hasn't gotten any Division I offers, Kramer said, largely because teams have just seen highlights from Morgan's junior year when he was a step slower.
Youngstown State has shown interest, and Morgan has an official visit planned for the Football Championship Subdivision school in January.
Morgan has been obsessed with improvement since he started the sport. As a youth football player, he would go over technique and details with his father, Tyrone, a 1995 Lely graduate and former Trojans running back.
"He gives me advice," Morgan said of his father. "He's worked with me since I was young. He would record my Pop Warner games and we'd watch film on Sunday mornings. Ever since then I've been a workhorse."