What a senior season for McDonogh senior midfielder Jackson Morrill. Not only did the Eagles capture the program's first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference crown since 2005 with a wire-to-wire season at No. 1 in The Sun's Top 15 poll, Morrill was named All-Metro Player of the Year. And now, he's getting ready to compete in the Under Armour All-America Game, set for Saturday at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium. A four-year varsity player, Morrill scored 43 goals and added 35 assists, also bringing leadership and poise as a team captain this season. The Eagles finished 19-1 and went 11-0 in league play. Morrill is set to play at Yale next year.
Could your senior season have gone any better?
No, it's been awesome — kind of a surreal last two months. Senior year you always talk about going out on top and for it to actually happen was pretty amazing. It's something all of us seniors have been talking about back since freshman year. One thing since we all decided to come to McDonogh was whether we could take this program to the top of the MIAA and in the national conversation. So it's something that is really cool and it's nice looking back now and realizing that we accomplished everything that we wanted to. So it's been pretty amazing.
What did it take to bring home the title?
The thing I've thought a lot about is how close we've been in the past and how every year we've sort of gotten closer and better. For our senior class, a lot of the leadership skills and a lot of the things we learned — things we have to do in the fall if we want to be good in the spring — came from older guys. It came from Danny Sweeney when we were freshmen; it came from Brinton Valis when we were sophomores; Robby Black last year. All those seniors — it's been building and building. And it's a process, a 100 percent process. It's the idea that you have to get better throughout the year. Also, one of the things last year, losing in the championship I think that drove us the entire season. So that was pretty important — I know that was on my mind. I think we probably had one of our worst games since I've been at McDonogh — that championship game. That haunted us a little bit. It hurt for those seniors last year, so we wanted to get back and win it all and do something that hadn't happened in 11 years at McDonogh.
What was it like being selected to play in this weekend's showcase game?
It's very cool. It's something since I've been a kid, I've been going to Towson and watching it, I watched it on TV. I've seen guys I looked up to play in it. To start the year, my No. 1 goal was to win a championship and do whatever was needed for that. But, obviously, there's things you work for as an individual and that was something I didn't really know if it was possible for me. But you always got to push yourself to be the highest that you can — you have to have your highest goals possible — so it was really cool to hear that [I was selected]. It's something I'm very proud of. It's just an incredible honor.
What kind of approach will you take into the game and how can it help prepare you for college?
It'll be cool because everyone there will be the best players in their leagues, leaders of their teams. Everyone there has goals to contribute in college and I mean I know going into freshman year that everything that I've done in high school means nothing. It's starting back to zero like I was a little freshman four years ago. That's something I actually enjoy. I like the fact that I'm going to have to come in and do every little thing all over again and start from scratch.
How did your game emerge over the course of your career at McDonogh to the point you've achieved so much?
It's weird sitting here now imagining back as a freshman. I was a skinny kid and getting pushed around everywhere I was. I have to give a lot of credit to coach [Andy] Hilgartner and coach [William] Whitty, too. That's kind of what I love about McDonogh lacrosse, the idea that we're going to develop our younger guys, we're going to teach kids to do the right things all the way through. It's something that paid off a lot for me, just doing the little things throughout all these four years and also taking everything the older guys would say. So it's been a long process and it's nice this senior year to have things pay off for a lot of our seniors.
How excited are you about playing at Yale?
It's an unbelievable opportunity for me. I love the coaching staff. Coach [Graham] Niemi and Coach [Andy] Shea, they really want to be good and they care about their players a lot, which is something that being with all the McDonogh coaches I've realized is one of the most important things going off to college. The other thing is the team. It's a great atmosphere. That's something I've looked forward to, just being a part of the team, being around the guys. They want to work hard and they realize we don't have the top athletes, the best players are going to Virginia and Carolina, so we're going to have to work that much harder and be that much closer as a team. They had a great year and it's something where I've decided I just want to try to fall right in to everything they have going on up there. So it'll be a great experience.