Lineman Ian Morris dominates defenses on the gridiron, exams in the classroom
The senior holds a powerlifting record for his weight class and is a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist
Luke McCurdy met Ian Morris when they were both freshmen lifting weights in preparation for the Park City High School football season. McCurdy took one look at Morris’ large, bulky frame and knew immediately that he would be a force on the offensive line someday.
McCurdy and his friends were doing their workouts, and since they were freshmen, weren’t lifting all that much. But then they watched Morris go to work.
“He goes in, and I think he five-reps 315 (pounds),” said McCurdy, now a senior for the Miners. “And we’re like, ‘Are you kidding me? Who is this kid?’ and it was just a moment of, like, ‘This kid is a monster.’”
Park City’s offensive line believes that it’s one of the strongest in the state, with all of the seniors capable of squatting over 500 pounds. At the forefront is the 6-foot-2, 247-pound Morris, who is both a powerlifting world-record holder in his age and weight group for squatting 683 pounds and a semifinalist for the National Merit Scholarship, which is based on his score on the PSAT last fall. He’s played at tackle, guard and center for the Miners, depending on injuries to other offensive linemen or other changes.
“Ian’s a unique individual, he’s so much fun,” Miners coach Josh Montzingo said. “He’s one of the strongest kids I’ve ever met, a dedicated, hardworking guy. Super smart in the classroom, there’s not much he can’t do, he’s such a great guy.”
Morris’ trademark is his large water jug, which travels with him everywhere between school, the football field and the weight room. It even made an appearance at his side at last year’s team banquet.
“It’s always been his thing, it’s kind of indicative of who he is,” Montzingo said. “Like, ‘Hey, it’s going to be some hard work, I’m going to be ready, I’m prepared, here we go.’ And it’s just kind of a fun thing, we all kind of enjoy it. He is such a fun personality, it’s enjoyable to watch him go to work sometimes.”
Whether it’s on the field or in the classroom, Morris’ work ethic is unmatched. While others might relax for the rest of the day following summer workouts, Morris was taking an hour or so every day to work on SAT prep. In college, he’s hoping to study engineering or physics.
“Honestly, the biggest thing with both sports and academics is just keeping yourself organized and planning everything,” Morris said. “Football season is pretty laid out, which makes it nice because I can schedule everything around that. And it’s just a lot of work there, but you just got to sit down and do the work and then you’re good.”
In the same vein, the day after helping the Miners obliterate Ben Lomond 48-7 last year, Morris masked up and headed back into the classroom to take the SAT.
“You feel like crap in the morning, but honestly, have a cup of coffee while you’re taking the test, and you’ll be fine,” he said.
Morris’ natural intelligence benefits the Miners as well, like when he tutors his teammates when they need help. McCurdy, for instance, once approached Morris when he needed a boost in calculus.
“He’s at that point where he’s so smart that he expects it the way it’s supposed to, and sometimes it’s not at that level,” McCurdy said. “He’s a very straightforward person. He’s really funny to be around just kind of with how blunt he is sometimes and how straightforward (he is). He doesn’t beat around the bush at all. If he has something on his mind, he’ll definitely say it, no doubt about it.”
It also carries over to the field. McCurdy likens Morris and his football IQ to having a graduate assistant on the field.
“He’s really good at coaching without directly impeding the actual coach and what he’s instructing, what he’s saying,” McCurdy said. “Does a very good job of it and he is very mindful of the younger kids and teaching them about stuff they’re doing wrong, what they can do right, what he’s learned, how he went through it and how he learned how to do it.”
Morris has been a gym rat ever since he was in elementary school. Morris said his dad has always been lifting, so he started with “really light stuff” back when he was in third grade. But it went to a completely different level in high school.
“When I went into my freshman year, I was kind of reaching a plateau on how much weight I could lift, so I took it up with my now-coach Jake Benson, and we’ve gone from there to get me good at powerlifting,” Morris said. “My initial goal when I started that whole process was 500 squat by the end of senior year, and I kind of blew that out of the water. So, we went ahead and did a meet, and here we are.”
Morris attended the 2021 USPA FitCon Powerlifting Cup in Lehi in June, when he successfully squatted 628.3 pounds and then 666.9 pounds after jumping the ref’s count on his second attempt. He was allowed to make a fourth attempt for a personal record, so he loaded the bar with 683.4 pounds. With two men supporting the bar on each side as well as another one behind him, Morris huffed and puffed and managed to successfully complete the squat to hold the record for heaviest squat.
“My main focus there was to listen to the (referee for the count) because there’s very little that you could actually think about when you have that much weight on your back,” Morris said. “You can’t really breathe that much, so you just got to focus on one thing. And all the squat stuff was just muscle memory by that point, so that’s what I was focusing on.”
Working toward squatting so much weight that you can’t breathe isn’t something for the faint of heart, but neither is being an offensive lineman who can block the biggest players in Region 6 and also ace a calculus exam. The monster of the Park City weight room is more than just muscle.
“That’s kind of the nature, you get that a lot on the O-line and D-line, frankly,” Morris said. “You’re chucking yourself at another 300-and-something-odd pound dude for three hours in a row every Friday night. Being sane for that is not exactly a benefit, nor is it normal. But it’s fun to do, so I do it.”
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Mattie Prior has taken over for the Miners after her twin sister, Cassie, broke her wrist.