Daily file photo by Gary Cosby Jr.|
West Morgan's Justin Phillips stops teammate Terrance Carter in practice, but the Rebels' opponents haven't stopped Carter or the West Morgan running game often this season.
Rebels on the run
After season opener, West Morgan's running attack hasn't slowed down
By Mark Edwards
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2461
TRINITY — When West Morgan High lost its season opener to Munford 21-7 and gained only 58 rushing yards, the Rebels' coaches had a solution:
The blocking sled.
The West Morgan offensive linemen spent plenty of time the following week pushing around the blocking sled.
Apparently, that worked. In the six games since then, West Morgan has out-rushed its opponent every time. The Rebels have picked up as much as 400 yards against Hatton in that span, and the lowest total was a stout 195 against Red Bay.
The offensive line has opened up enough big holes for West Morgan's speedy backs to slip through that the Rebels have scored 11 touchdowns of 21 yards or more. Sophomore Terrance Carter has had two 91-yard touchdown runs and another of 67 yards. Blake Gholston has ripped off scoring runs of 62 and 65 yards.
Offensive linemen rarely get much credit after long runs like that, but that's OK with sophomore guard Michael Burks and his teammates on the line.
"No, sir, I don't want to push the blocking sled anymore," Burks said with a smile.
The productive running game has helped West Morgan post a 4-3 record, including wins in its last three games. In addition, the Rebels are 3-2 in Class 2A, Region 8, which is tied for third. The top four teams advance to the playoffs.
On Friday, West Morgan will host Cherokee (3-4, 2-3) in a game that will help decide each team's playoff future.
It won't be any surprise when the Rebels will try to overpower Cherokee with a strong rushing attack.
"We've got a good offensive line that's been blocking, and we're working hard," said Carter, the 2A 100-meter state champion last spring. "We have a lot of good backs, too, and we're using them."
Carter has gained at least 145 rushing yards in four of the past five games, but he's not the only one who runs the ball well. Gholston has topped 100 yards twice in that span.
Carter has scored eight rushing touchdowns this year, while quarterback Josh McAbee — a force when he keeps the ball — has rushed for seven. Gholston has three rushing touchdowns, and fullbacks Desmond Clay and Caleb Brown have run for one each.
West Morgan's young offensive line has helped pave the way. Junior Tony Shelton starts at center, while another junior, Trey Terry, starts at guard alongside Burks.
Sophomore Storm Alberti starts at tackle alonside junior Marcus Hamby. Senior Demarrious Swoopes starts at tight end.
At fullback, Clay is just a junior, and Brown is a sophomore.
“We’ve been doing great as a whole — the offensive line and the backs,” said Hamby, a veteran with three years as a starter under his belt.
“To be able to run the ball, everybody has to do well.”
With all the good running plays, it makes watching the game videotape fun for West Morgan’s team — as long as the Rebels win.
If West Morgan is reviewing a win, then head coach Pierre Coggins is happy, and that means the players can enjoy seeing the highlights pop up on the tape.
“It all depends on what kind of mood Coach is in,” Hamby said with a smile. “If we’ve won, then we can cut up and kid a lot more.”
West Morgan’s long-distance running game
West Morgan has scored 11 touchdowns this season on runs of 21 yards or more, including six by Terrance Carter, three by Josh McAbee and two byBlake Gholston:
Player Opponent Yards
McAbee Tanner 32
Carter Phil Campbell 61
Gholston PhilCampbell 62
McAbee Red Bay 65
McAbee East Lawrence 23
Carter East Lawrence 91
Gholston Hatton *65
Carter Hatton 21
Carter Hatton 26
Carter Hatton 91
Carter Winston Co. *67
*-first play from scrimmage.
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