Former Poplarville football Head Coach Pat Morris passes away at age 77

Published 7:00 am Thursday, November 30, 2017

Former Poplarville Head Football Coach Pat Morris passed away Monday.

He died at the age of 77 from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. During his career, he enjoyed success on and off the football field.

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According to the Sun Herald, Morris coached the Hornets for 19 seasons from 1975 to 1989 and from 2001 to 2004.

He won the Apache Conference in 1976, 1980, 1982 and 1984. At the end of his coaching career at Poplarville, he finished with a record of 106-89-4.

Many coaches are only remembered for the number of victories or championships they won.

But to his family and former players, he will be remembered as a coach and father who cared about his players, his family and the many life lessons he taught them at a young age.

“He cared about his players, he believed in preparing for every game the right way and he made sure all of his players were ready to play every time they stepped out on the field,” Randy Morris, son of Pat Morris, said. “All throughout his life, he helped everyone with life situations other than football. There have been many former players that have come back and told me that if it wasn’t for him, they would had taken the wrong road in life.”

Randy played football under his dad tutelage in 1989 and 1990 and he remembered one time when his dad made him apologize to the other team’s coach for running up the score.

“We were winning the game by 30 points and there were only a few seconds left in the game and I thought he said to run the ball instead of taking a knee,” Randy said. “After I scored, he quickly ran towards me, grabbed my face mask and told me to apologize to other team’s head coach because what I had done was disrespectful. When I went over to apologize, the coach simply said that they didn’t have a chance to win the game anyway and walked away.”

Morris’ favorite hobby was fishing, a sport he loved to do with his kids and grandsons.

“He loved saltwater fishing and spending time with his grandkids,” Randy said. “He always made it a competition to see who would catch the most in one day and everyone always had a lot of fun with him.”

Pat Morris is the grandfather of St. Stanislaus quarterback Jake Greer and both of them spent a lot of time together and discussed things involving football and life.

“He was proud of Jake’s accomplishment’s on the football field and in life,” Randy said. “He would always try to make it to Jake’s games and cheer him on and I know everyone in the family will miss him very much.”

Joey Howard, Poplarville’s quarterback in 1976, will remember Morris as person who pushed him to achieve things he thought he couldn’t and to work harder than he had before.

“Between 1973 and 1974, we only won three games and lost 18,” Howard said. “When Morris came in, he quickly changed the culture. In 1975, we won seven games and in 1976 we won eight and only lost one. He was a remarkable coach and he pushed us to the limit and made us maximize our potential. It was a big culture change for everyone on the team.”

Throughout his years at Poplarville, Morris didn’t necessarily have many Division I athletes, but what he did have was a group of young men who played with a lot of heart and determination, Howard said.

“He made you believe in yourself, he knew what your potential was and he did everything to help you reach it,” running back and defensive back from the 1976 team Scott Arban said. “He helped me become a better athlete and taught me how to be a team player and he did that for everyone on the team. The biggest life lesson I will remember from Morris is that if I do everything in life with a positive attitude, I can do anything I set my mind to.”

Last year, Poplarville recognized the 1976 team and out of the 32 living players, 27 came back to catch up with coach Morris, Howard said.

“To me, having 27 players who live in different parts of the country come back to Poplarville and catch up with coach Morris, it was a huge statement of what he meant to us,” Howard said. “He was a great man, he treated everyone with respect and he taught us that nothing in life was easy.”

After retiring from coaching, Morris continued to support the Hornets.

“He was happy with the success the Hornets had this season,” Randy said. “He was happy with the accomplishments Head Coach Jay Beech has accomplished so far and how he has turned Poplarville’s football team into a powerhouse program again.”

Visitation and service for Morris will take place at Brownstone Center for the Arts at Pearl River Community College from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday.

“He was family man who loved his family, his players and they loved him back,” Randy said.