St. Joseph Catholic School quarterback Mekhi Norris sees being sacked as a personal insult. Using a combination of hard work, sheer determination and natural talent, Norris has made it a habit of extending plays in the backfield that looked like they were doomed just moments earlier.
Whether he needs to go backwards, sideways then back around with a twist, Norris, a senior, stays on his feet for as long as it takes. Eventually, when the play is over, he has, more often than not, either found an open receiver deep down the field or found his own running alley that allows his team to move the chains and then some.
Norris’ catlike elusiveness was again on full display Friday night in St. Joseph’s 40-7 home victory over the Glenbrook Academy Apaches. The win moved the Irish to a perfect 3-0 this season and pushed their state-best overall winning streak to 27 games.
“I don’t ever want to get sacked. My goal each game is to never get sacked,” Norris said. “I worked really hard over the summer on my agility. I worked on a lot of footwork drills, and I think that hard work has really paid off.”
Norris finished Friday’s game with 210 rushing yards on 15 carries and three touchdowns, with many of these yards not coming on designed runs. He also threw three touchdowns.
“Mekhi is a lot faster than he looks,” St. Joseph head coach John Baker said. “He takes really wide strides so you don’t realize how quick he is. He does a great job of making plays for us.”
Despite Norris’ impressive night at quarterback, Baker said he was not pleased with the overall performance of his team. The Irish scored two quick touchdowns in the game’s first few minutes, but the remainder of the first half was full of a variety of penalties and other mental mistakes that kept the game closer than it probably could have or should have been.
“We were way too sloppy, and I think it is gut check time for us,” Baker said. “We have a huge game next week against Greenville Christian, and I think our players may have been looking ahead a little tonight.”
The game between the Irish — who have won three straight state championships — and the Saints from GCS next week will be especially interesting, said Baker, because of how many new and talented players the Saints have on their team.
St. Joe’s Kye Nelson recovered an onside kick by Frank Serio to open the game. Three plays later Norris connected with sophomore Jerrian King for the game’s first score. After a 46-yard carry from Omar Emmons, the Irish scored again midway through the first quarter on a five-yard Norris touchdown run.
St. Joseph wouldn’t score again until 20 seconds left in the first half when a 20-yard run by Elvis Scott set up Norris’ second touchdown run of the night, also from five yards away.
A 27-yard touchdown throw from Norris to King midway through the third quarter put St. Joe up 26-0. Norris connected with senior Kaleb Lockett on a 27-yard pass for the final Irish touchdown with four minutes left in the game.
The Irish defense, meanwhile, stingily gave up yards the entire night, finally allowing the Apaches into the endzone during fourth quarter mop-up time.