COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - For Spring Valley running back Jaylon Morris, the last week has been one of the toughest weeks -- if not the toughest -- of his life.
Last Thursday, Morris's father passed away after suffering from a heart attack. The news devastated the Vikings senior and his family.
"It was a lot," Morris recalled. "It was just… be with my family first and I knew he'd want me to play on Friday."
Jaylon's father, Charles, played several sports including football and soccer in school. He's one of the reasons Jaylon has done so well on the gridiron.
"He's one of the biggest impacts on my life," Morris said. "He taught me everything. He taught me how to use my hands with working and all that. He taught me everything I know."
The decision for Morris to play last Friday was one that Spring Valley head coach Robin Bacon wanted his running back to really consider ahead of the Vikings' game against Richland Northeast.
"I took him out to lunch on Friday and we just talked for a long time," said Bacon. "I asked Jaylon, 'What do you want to do?' I said I'll support you in whatever you want to do. And it was an archrival game. He said, 'Coach, I want to play' and that doesn't surprise me. He's a competitor. He probably had a million things going through his mind, but I said, 'Hey, we want to do what you want to do' and he said, 'Coach, I want to play.'"
It was a tough decision, but Morris said he received a lot of support from his coaches and teammates after receiving the news of his father's passing.
"That was big," Morris said. "They all reached out to me the night of, the day after. They were there for me."
With his family in the stands, Morris would come up big in the Vikings' 45-7 win over the Cavaliers scoring two touchdowns. But through this grieving process, Morris has taken away a valuable lesson that he'll keep with him forever.
"Just keep my head up," he said. "Just keep pushing."