Old friendships, star players have helped form West Morgan's high-scoring offense

Sep. 14—TRINITY — The scoreboard operator at E.D. Redding Stadium, home of the Brooks Lions, was surely having a tough time last Friday night.

As the Lions hosted the West Morgan Rebels, whatever poor soul was tasked with managing the scoreboard probably had no idea what they had signed up for.

The two teams combined for 136 points, 83 of which came from the Rebels.

Friday's performance showed just why West Morgan has arguably one of the best offenses in the state this year.

Statistically, the Rebels do have the best offense. According to Alabama High School Football Historical Society, West Morgan has scored 172 points in three games for a 57.3 points per game average. That ranks No. 1 in the entire state regardless of classification.

"I know it's cliché to say, but I really don't keep up with stuff like that." West Morgan head coach Drew Phillips said. "I will say though, it doesn't surprise me."

Unlike last year, when the Rebels were mostly run-heavy, this West Morgan offense is pick your poison. Through three games, the offense has rushed for 781 yards and 13 touchdowns and passed for 492 yards and nine touchdowns.

"We're so much more multiple this year," said running back Jalen Fletcher, who accounted for 354 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns last week against Brooks. "We're using every weapon that we have."

A question could be asked, how has this explosive offense come to be? Well, it didn't happen overnight.

Old friends reunite

The start of the Rebels' high-powered offense came when Phillips called upon an old friend.

Phillips and Caleb Graham grew up best friends. The two played high school football together, started their coaching careers together and even took part in each other's weddings.

After starting as middle school coaches at Brooks, the two went on different career paths. Phillips spent three years at Randolph and seven at Athens under head coach Cody Gross were he was assistant coach of the year in 2020 before taking the West Morgan job in 2021. Graham served as the offensive coordinator four seasons under Brad Black at Brooks before joining Bryan Moore's staff at Hartselle in 2020.

However, while their journeys may have been different, the two always knew their paths would cross again someday.

"I remember telling him at my wedding, maybe we'll get the chance to stand on the same sideline again someday," Graham said. "I didn't know it would be so soon."

The time finally came in 2022. Phillips had been the offensive coordinator and play caller at Athens and had carried that role over to his first season at West Morgan. But when Phillips had the opportunity to hire his old friend, he said it was an easy choice to make.

"It was a no-brainer. He's better at it than I am," Phillips said. "I haven't called a single play since he got here, and I never will as long as he's here."

The reunion has been successful to say the least.

In 2022, the Rebel offense jumped from 25 points per game to 41.7. Now it sits at 57.3 points per game.

"Our relationship allows us to feed off each other," Graham said. "The energy he brings every day is incredible, and I try to match that. I feel like we have good chemistry, and I think that's helped us to have success on the field."

Stars all over the field

Of course, it makes a coach's job easier when he has talented playmakers, and West Morgan doesn't have any shortage.

In 2022, Jalen Fletcher drew most of the attention. The then junior had 2,107 all-purpose yards and 24 touchdowns.

In 2023, Fletcher was still a problem, rushing for 429 yards and eight touchdowns, while adding 134 yards receiving and two more scores, but the Rebel offense has a lot more weapons this year.

Ti'arrius "TiMo" Mosley has hauled in 13 catches for 291 yards and rushed four times for 100 yards. He has seven total touchdowns. Jeremy Strong has rushed for 94 yards with three scores.

"It's taken a lot of pressure off me," Fletcher said. "Now teams can't just focus on me, they have to focus on everyone else as well."

The biggest change in the offense, though, has come from quarterback Braxton Peters.

Entering his senior year, Peters had already started for two seasons, but now he's taken his game to a whole new level.

"I usually play other sports, but this offseason I didn't do anything but focus on football," Peters said. "Me and TiMo would stay after school almost every day and just run routes."

That hard work has paid off. In 2022 Peters passed for 791 yards for the season. Through three games this season, he's already passed for 432 yards.

"I feel like I've helped elevate the offense. I'm able to get our receivers a lot more chances and that's taken pressure off our run game," Peters said.

West Morgan (3-0) is set to host Central-Florence this Friday. The Rebels will be looking to score plenty of points again.

"It's cool that we have the highest scoring offense in the state right now, but our mindset is to look at it like we're the lowest," Peters said. "We're trying to beat ourselves almost."

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