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Laying a foundation: Rebels' trio helped set new standard for West Morgan football

Jan. 5—TRINITY — The 2023 West Morgan football season was one for the ages.

West Morgan finished the season 12-1, which is the most wins in school history. Along the way, the Rebels put together their first undefeated regular season and reached the state quarterfinals for the first time since 1994.

To do it, the Rebels needed some star players. Fortunately for them, they had plenty.

Two in particular stood out, one on each side of the ball: running back Jalen Fletcher and linebacker Shamarvion Mosley.

Fletcher was a first team All-State choice at athlete after playing everywhere on offense for the Rebels. The UNA signee finished the season with 2,404 all-purpose yards (1,434 rushing, 626 receiving, 311 punt return) and 42 total touchdowns.

Mosley was just as much a force on defense. The first team All-State linebacker had 154 tackles, 19 tackles for loss with eight sacks, and seven forced fumbles.

Because of this, both players have been named 2023 Decatur Daily Class 1A-4A Small School Players of the year.

"Both of those guys have what people call 'it'," Wes Morgan head coach Drew Phillips said. "You can't really explain what 'it' is, but that's what they have."

"Not only did they make a tremendous impact on the field, but in our locker room and in the community as well," Phillips added. "The blood, sweat and tears, I know it's cliche, but they've put it in there. They're two extremely special individuals."

Fletcher was the catalyst for an offense that gained statewide attention. The Rebels finished the season scoring 51 points per game and led the state in scoring average for nearly the entire regular season.

Fletcher said the team put West Morgan on the map.

"Nobody really knew about West Morgan until we started scoring all these points," Fletcher said. "We knew what we could do, and when we started getting all the hype, it just fueled us even more to live up to it."

Much like his personality, Mosley led a defense that worked under the radar. While the offense grabbed all the headlines, the defense quietly surrendered an average of just 15.5 points per game with four shutouts. The Rebels had the sixth ranked defense in Class 4A.

Mosley said the defense being good was even more impressive considering what the offense gave them to work with.

"We couldn't get any time off the field because they would a touchdown every time we looked up," Mosley joked. "But we really didn't care about them getting all the attention. We kept our head down and did our jobs. We wanted to do whatever it took to win."

Handling expectations

While he may have had plenty of star players helping him, Phillips' role in the tremendous season can't be understated.

Phillips is The Decatur Daily's Class 1A-4A Small School Coach of the Year for leading the Rebels to a historic year.

Coming into the year, the Rebels had lofty expectations after a 10-2 campaign in 2022. For a team not used to that, they could easily have crumbled, but under Phillips they managed to surpass those expectations.

"We were really excited about the opportunity that we had," Phillips said. "The seniors we had were coming off their freshman year when I got here, so they had been in it and knew what to expect. We knew we could be special, and these guys bought into that and went out and proved it."

Proving themselves quickly became the key motivator for the 2023 season.

"We wanted to show we were for real and that 2022 wasn't a fluke," Mosley said.

Setting a new standard

While Fletcher and Mosley may be leaving West Morgan, the players believe they've helped set a standard for future success.

"There's still a lot of great players here and coming up, and they're going to have a great coaching staff leading them," Fletcher said. "If they just buy into what he (Phillips) says, they'll continue to go far."

Phillips said the work put in by, not just Fletcher and Mosley, but the entire senior class has set the West Morgan program up to continue to grow.

"Those guys laid a foundation," Phillips said. "The expectation every year now here is going to be to win, and that's a testament to the work they put in."

—caleb.suggs@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2395. Twitter @CalebSuggs2