SHANNON FAGAN: After containing dynamic offense, expect Warrior ‘D’ to find a way against explosive Westminster QB

The Cherokee County Warriors (12-1) passed perhaps their toughest test of the 2023 high school football season last week when they neutralized the West Morgan Rebel offense.

West Morgan was averaging 53 points per game coming into last week’s quarterfinal matchup against Warriors. The Warrior defense held the Rebels to almost half that point average margin in a 28-27 victory.

Leading that defensive effort was senior lineman Tae Diamond. Diamond delivered 16 tackles with four for loss and two sacks. He also ran for 102 yards on 12 carries on offense.

Junior linebacker Tristan Brown registered 12 tackles, including three for loss, and a fumble recovery in last week’s Warrior win, but the game hinged on senior defensive back Alex Johnson’s interception with 2:59 remaining. The Rebels were driving for the potential game-winning score when Johnson’s leaping grab crippled West Morgan’s hopes of pulling off the win.

The little hope West Morgan had left following Johnson’s pick faded following senior tailback Jacob Cornejo’s 46-yard scamper down to the Rebel 32-yard line. Cornejo led the Warrior offense with 203 yards on 38 carries and three touchdowns.

With West Morgan now behind them, the Warriors are now preparing for another tough test at Westminster Christian (11-2).

Although not piling up quite as many points as last week’s opponent, the Wildcats do average 44.6 points per contest, led by one of the state’s most prolific passers in senior quarterback Brandon Musch.

Musch accounted for 329 total yards and ran for six touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 48-27 quarterfinal win at Brooks last week. He gained 261 yards on 25 carries and completed 10-of-12 passes for 68 yards.

For his career, Musch has accumulated 13,970 total yards with 193 touchdowns. His totals are second all-time in the AHSAA behind Piedmont’s Jack Hayes (15,104 yards, 223 TDs).

And then there’s this little tidbit about Friday night’s matchup.

According to the Alabama Football Historical Society website (, the Wildcats have never beaten a ranked team. They’re 0-27 lifetime and 0-8 in Class 4A. They’re also 0-4 against ranked teams in the state playoffs.

Cherokee County entered the playoffs ranked fourth in the final Alabama Sports Writers Association high school football poll of the season.

The last time the Wildcats played a ranked team was against Class 3A, No. 2 Madison Academy, a 47-7 setback at home to end the regular season on Nov. 3.

The Wildcats’ only other loss this season was in their season opener on Aug. 25 at Class 6A Lee-Huntsville (5-5). That final was 44-34.

Here’s thinking another solid Warrior defensive effort spoils the Wildcats’ first state semifinal appearance and Cherokee County marches on to the Super 7 in Tuscaloosa.

The pick: Cherokee County.

WEIS Sports Director Shannon Fagan is 56-15 picking area prep football games for the 2023 season, a 78.9 correct picking percentage.

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