HAMMOND — It was late during a summer practice and Morton coach Roydon Richards was talking to his offense during some drills.

“We’re going to have about 20 passes per game and 35 to 40 rushes,” he said. “I’m looking for eight yards per carry.”

The seniors must have thought he was crazy. That’s totally opposite of what Richards ran as the Governors’ primary offense in recent years. One of the seniors, though, had a funny, but pertinent thought.

“He’s doing that because he has me now,” said Kenny Coleman, who played mostly linebacker last season, but will now add running back to his duties.

His favorite NFL player is Adrian Peterson, so the new shoes definitely fit. It’s just a coincidence that Morton’s offense is changing when Coleman moves into the key position, right?

“We learned in the middle of last year that we need to play to our team’s strengths,” Richards said. “We’re a passing formation team, but we don’t have to pass all the time. We have good running backs and lots of linemen.”

And, of course, one of those backs is Coleman, who fits right into Richards’ football mantra.

“He’s a linebacker who gets the ball,” Richards said with a smile. “You can see it when he’s carrying it. He gives our offense toughness.”

Part of that is due to the road Coleman has traversed to get to this point of being the starting running back for the Governors. He started playing football at 10 years old for the Hessville Vipers, but ended up living in Merrillville. Coleman transferred back to Morton, but was academically ineligible a couple years ago. That’s completely changed for the better.

“He’s turned into one of our better students on the team,” Richards said proudly.

In addition to his talent on the field, the improvement in the classroom has helped get a college look from Grand Valley State.

Coleman has also turned into a captain, thanks in part because he was one of only four Governors to play both offense and defense last year. He credits that leadership ability to the running backs from last year’s squad.

Morton’s rushing attack consisted of Kendall Huff and Eleazar Henderson, who both graduated.

“I learned from them that you have to go hard on every play,” Coleman said.

Hence, why Richards love him as his linebacker in the backfield.

Opponents might want to think twice before getting in his way.