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No varsity blues: Wolverines eager to square off against Region 7-AAA rivals
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Forsyth County News
West Forsyth racked up a 9-1 record playing as a junior varsity last fall, but coach Frank Hepler has made it clear to his troops that it's a whole new ball game this year. To hear him tell it, they've gotten the message.

With their first varsity season ticking closer, the Wolverines finished up spring practice last week knowing that it won't be long before they're navigating a full-blown Region 7-AAA schedule.

"I sensed much more of a sense of urgency from the kids [than a year ago]," Hepler said of the spring sessions. "[They said things like] 'Hey, we've got to get ready for region play. This is not JV ball now."

Hepler said he thinks that the prospect of a real region slate this fall will serve as a good motivator for his team.

"You always want to have a goal to shoot for. ... Last year we were just playing to get the games under our belt," the coach said.

West will kick off the season Aug. 29 in Coal Mountain, taking on North Forsyth before coming home the following week to take on Class AA Adairsville.

Hepler tried to play down expectations of a big up-and-coming rivalry with the Class AAAAA Raiders, noting that the Wolverines are still the new team in town.

"I think North will be a big game," Hepler said. "We are going into that game like any other, just trying to improve and find out what we have. Their kids have been together longer and have good chemistry and I think they will have a good team. We will do the best we can that first week out."

Moving into region play, the Wolverines have home dates with Class AAA newcomer Creekview, as well as Gainesville, Johnson and West Hall. West Forsyth will be on the road against region opponents Pickens, East Hall, Flowery Branch and Chestatee.

"For us, all the teams in 7-AAA will be tough," Hepler said. "I think each game will be tough in the region, again due to our youth and lack of experience with these teams."

Hepler said he has been scouting out region wrestling matches, track meets and baseball and basketball games during the offseason to get a look at some of the athletes that will be lining up opposite his team on the gridiron.

The continuity that comes from not graduating any seniors off last year's team -- since the school didn't have any enrolled -- combined with the familiarity of a year playing together meant there were few questions about responsibilities when the team came together for spring practice this year.

"We still were not where we need to be for the fall, but ... we're probably in a better situation than most, because all our starters are back," Hepler said.

"Last year, the first five or six days [of practice] was just trying to learn names and know who was who. This year we were able to come right in and start working on offense and defense."

One area Hepler has consistently pointed is the team's need to bulk up in the weightroom and hone physical skills in general before taking on other varsity teams. He said that playing other sports since last football season, like track and field, has helped some players develop strength and speed.

With spring practice behind them and no more on-field sessions permitted until August, the Wolverines will now spend the next few months focused on bulking up and hoping the effort pays off in September.

"I think [the players are] ready to go into the summer and start lifting weights and getting faster and stronger," Hepler said.