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West Morgan quarterback Josh McAbee hands off to tailback Blake Gholston during a recent practice.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
West Morgan quarterback Josh McAbee hands off to tailback Desmond Clay during a recent practice.

Young, but ready
Graduation hits W. Morgan hard, but Rebels still have high hopes

Seventeenth in a series

By Mark Edwards · 340-2461

TRINITY — Sitting behind the desk in his small office at the West Morgan High football fieldhouse, head coach Pierre Coggins wore a warm, welcoming smile for a visitor.

Coggins seemed awfully upbeat, especially for a coach facing the task ahead of him this season.

His Rebels lost 12 important seniors from a year ago. That senior class meant so much to the West Morgan boys athletic program, every team is feeling a pinch. Those players helped Coggins’ football team post an 8-4 record and reach the second round of the state playoffs. In basketball, they made the regional finals. In baseball, they advanced to the state semifinals.

On top of those losses, Coggins must deal with a shrinking roster. He has only six seniors on the squad this year, and in his sophomore, junior and senior classes combined, he has 26 players. That’s down from about 36 last year.

But Coggins has reason to smile.

“We have some good kids back,” he said. “We lost 12 good seniors, and it’s hard to find kids to take their place. But we have some good kids back.”

Also, Coggins relied on plenty of young players last season, which means that the ones back have played in important situations.

“Even though we’re young, we do have some experience back,” Coggins said. “We have more experience than you normally would with as many young players as we have.

West Morgan’s biggest hurdle this year — besides the always-tough Class 2A, Region 8 schedule — is the lack of players.

“We have no depth,” Coggins said. “None. We can’t afford injuries at all.”

But the players seem prepared to handle the extra load that each of them will have to accept.

“It will be harder this year, but we should be all right,” said senior Michael Clem, a standout at receiver and defensive back. “We’ll have to be ready to play both ways.”

West Morgan also has good news as it returns quality players from one of the area’s best small-school offenses.

The Rebels averaged 28.8 points a game and scored at least 20 points in 11 of 12 games. The quarterback who paced the attack, senior Josh McAbee, is back.

“We always look to him,” Coggins said. “He’s a good kid and a great athlete. He wants to win every play.”

In the backfield, West Morgan has three potential standouts at running back, including juniors Blake Gholston and Desmond Clay and sophomore Terrance Carter, who won the Class 2A state championship in the 100-meter dash last spring.

At receiver, the Rebels have experience back there, too. Clem returns, along with junior Quinton Davis and sophomore David Pritchard. Davis injured his knee in the third game of last season, but was a key contributor until then.

On the offensive line, junior Marcus Hamby is back at tackle, and junior Trey Terry will handle one of the guard spots again. They’re the top two returnees, but West Morgan also has junior Tony Shelton at center, junior Caleb McCullough at tackle and sophomore Tyler Franks at guard.

Sophomore Storm Alberti will play tight end.

As usual, the West Morgan players have plenty of expectations. They come from a tradition-rich program that typically makes the playoffs and advances at least one round.

“We want to make the state playoffs again and make it past the second round,” Clem said. “Those are our goals for the year.

West Morgan High at a glance

  • Last season: 8-4. Lost in the second round of the Class 2A state playoffs.

  • Head coach: Pierre Coggins (39-17 in his sixth year as West Morgan’s head coach).

  • Noteworthy: West Morgan has three games this year against ranked teams:Class 2A No. 4 Addison, 2A No. 7 Tanner and 4A No. 7 East Limestone. ... Josh McAbee returns at quarterback. In West Morgan’s first-round playoff win at Vincent last season, he rushed for 112 yards and passed for 81. ... Speedy Terrance Carter will add depth at tailback. He won the 100-meter dash at the 2A state meet last spring. Against East Limestone last season, he returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.

    Mark Edwards

    West Morgan High schedule, results

    2007 schedule




    at Tanner (R)


    Phil Campbell (R)


    at Red Bay (R)


    East Lawrence


    Hatton (R)


    at Winston County (R)


    Cherokee (R)


    at Addison (R)


    at East Limestone

    (R)-Class 2A, Region 8

    2006 results

    at Munford

    W, 20-6

    vs. Tanner

    L, 28-21

    at Phil Campbell

    W, 35-6

    vs. Red Bay

    L, 24-21

    at East Lawrence

    W, 22-0

    at Hatton

    W, 31-21

    vs. Winston County

    W, 63-6

    at Cherokee

    W, 42-0

    vs. Addison

    W, 26-7

    vs. East Limestone

    L, 48-28


    at Vincent

    W, 29-14

    vs. Section

    L, 28-7

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