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The great North-West
Clash of rivals signals start of football season
West Forsyth's Ethan Shirley heads up field during a Wolverines practice earlier this week. The second-year school is playing its first varsity football game Friday. - photo by Jared Putnam

Principal Beth Hebert said students at North Forsyth High will wear black today, a school tradition reserved for contests with rival schools.

The difference, she noted, is that tonight's football showdown with West Forsyth is a first, and will "mark the beginning of a school rivalry" for which her students and staff are getting "pepped up."

That sentiment is shared on the campus of West, where junior Patrick McIntosh said students at his school also will sport colors today.

"The entire school is going to get completely dressed up in green and blue and we're going to go all crazy," he said. "People will be painting their faces, and we're allowed to color our hair, and just basically go nuts with school spirit."

West Principal Richard Gill said the campus is indeed teeming with spirit in anticipation the clash, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. in Raider Valley.

"The fact that it's the first varsity game in our school's history," he said, "yeah, we're expecting our whole community is going to turn out for this."

Hebert said the game is a reunion of sorts, since West is a second-year school that drew some students and staff from North.

"There will be a lot of familiar faces," Hebert said.

In anticipation of a large crowd, the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office will help ease traffic pains in the in Coal Mountain area.

"We normally have a deputy or two to work local football games," said Sheriff's Capt. Frank Huggins.

North junior Brittany Selman will be cheering on her Raiders.

"Hopefully, we'll win it," she said, adding that anything could happen since there are many new faces on the North squad. "People are getting excited here."

West head coach Frank Hepler feels it too, noting that there's "an air of excitement" on the campus.

"Maybe a little uncertainty in a way, but only because of what to expect," Hepler said. "Some of the guys have a little bit of varsity experience from other schools they've come from."

Gill was assistant principal at North for seven years when the school first opened. Like Hebert, he said he's encouraging his students to pack the house tonight to support their Wolverines.

"We have a lot of enthusiasm," he said. "I think we'll have a good season."

As North head coach Jared Zito sees it, "probably both sides have the rivalry on their mind."

"As coaches, it's exciting," he said. "It's exciting for the county and for the community and the school. But at the same time, as a football coach, it's game one of a 10-game season.

"So win, lose or draw, we're trying to execute, get better, play hard, play together. You know, we'll see how it turns out, [but] there'll be a week two regardless."

BJ Corbitt and Jared Putnam of the FCN sports staff contributed to this report.