One game shy of the season’s midpoint, and one thing seems clear — the days of Forsyth County football teams serving as easy fodder for their opponents appear to be on the way out.
Heading into the fifth week of the season, three of the county’s four varsity teams are .500 or better, and none of them are looking like pushovers so far.
Were it not for Brian Adams’ separated shoulder following a tackle on a punt return last week, South Forsyth might be sporting an even record as well.
As it is, the War Eagles suffered a second-half implosion at Chattahoochee — with Adams on the sideline in a sling — and enter tonight at 1-3, still looking for a win in Region 7-AAAAA.
While it’s never a good time to lose an SEC-bound senior who has sparked his team in all three facets of the game, South could have done worse than drawing winless Northview at home this week. The
Titans have struggled to score points every time out this season, although South coach Wendell Early is impressed with the size of the defensive line and speed of the linebackers Northview will bring to town.
Sophomore Nick Belyew will be staring down that defense at War Eagle Field tonight, with Adams out for at least one game and day-to-day from there.
“Nick will be our starter this week and we believe in him and the things he can do. He is not as athletic as Brian, but few are,” Early said. “Nick throws the ball very well and runs very courageously.”
North Forsyth showed its share of courage last Friday, hanging around with perennial 7-AAAAA power Peachtree Ridge in an 11-point loss. Things rarely get any easier in North’s region, and tonight’s date with unbeaten Collins Hill in Raider Valley is a prime example.
The Eagles were down a year ago, but appear to be rejuvenated under Billy Wells, who moved from coordinator to head coach this season, with talented transfer Michael Box leading the offense under center.
North coach Jared Zito sees Collins Hill as sporting a “bend but don’t break” defense that doesn’t give up the big play easily. He knows his Raiders will have their hands full with a disciplined, talented Eagles team, but North has looked improved through the first four games itself.
“We are playing much better this year for sure,” Zito said. “Some of it is just having better players in certain spots or knowing our players better.”
Zito said that giving up fewer big plays on defense, running the ball more consistently, and improved tackling and ball protection have all been areas of upgrades for the 2-2 Raiders so far.
West Forsyth didn’t have much to improve upon, having never played a varsity game before this season, but the Wolverines have set the bar pretty high coming out of the gate.
West is 4-0 coming into tonight, and begins its crucial 7B-AAA subregion schedule at East Hall. Five of West’s final six games are in the subregion, and the Wolverines face a stiff challenge finishing among the top two in a pool sporting Gainesville, Flowery Branch and West Hall.
“We are going to try and improve. That is what we are trying to emphasize each day and week. ... It will get a lot tougher now [in the subregion],” West coach Frank Hepler said, noting that the 1-3 Vikings have some impressive players on offense.
For Forsyth Central, the defense looked pretty impressive a week ago, handing Stone Mountain a big goose egg in a 15-0 win.
That result put Central at 2-2 on the year and ran the Bulldogs’ record in Region 6-AAAA to 2-1.
The Dawgs look like a competitive presence in their new region so far, but still have a lot of football in front of them.
Miller Grove comes into the Dawg Pound tonight mired around the middle of the region, but the Wolverines have been on the short end of some close ones with teams at the top of 6-AAAA.
A win here could put Central in good position heading into what looks like a much tougher second half of the season, but coach Chris Bennett refuses to look too far ahead, saying his team is completely focused on what he describes as a talented, well-coached Miller Grove team.
“As far as the ... playoffs go, we don’t worry about who we play down the road. We try to take one game at a time. We know, to have a shot, we need to beat whoever we are playing right now,” Bennett said.