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Wolverines tear up Tigers
West moves to 2-0 with lopsided win
WEST 1 A goes with b and c JD
West Forsyth's Ethan Shirley runs in for a touchdown to cap the Wolverines first possession Friday night against Adairsville. - photo by Jim Dean
Friday night marked the first varsity home game in West Forsyth history.

At this rate, the Wolverines may never want to play on the road again.

West built a quick 21-0 lead over visiting Adairsville Friday night and never let up, crushing the Tigers 77-30.

Starting quarterback Lance Baker (9-of-10 passing, 238 yards) threw four touchdowns for the Wolverines (2-0), two of them to sophomore Ethan Shirley (110 total yards), who ran for two more on his own.

By halftime, West had built a 55-22 lead en route to a final result that looked more like a basketball score.

The first play of the game proved to be an omen, as Adairsville (0-2) fumbled the opening kickoff recovery at their own 35, setting up West nicely to start the night.

Junior running back Ben Emert (56 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns) picked up a big 29-yard run, and Baker-to-Shirley for 13 yards capped off a quick five-play drive and put West up 7-0 just over two minutes in.

It was a miserable offensive start for the Tigers, a Class AA squad, as they lost a fumble on their own 31 on the next possession and West again made the miscue hurt, as Shirley covered the 31 yards on one play to make it 14-0 at 8:11 to go in the first quarter.

After West’s defense forced a punt, the Wolverine ‘O’ grabbed 55 yards and a third touchdown in 29 seconds, with senior Parker Chapman picking up 17 yards in one burst on the ground and then hauling in a wide-open touchdown pass from Baker for 38 yards on the next play.

Wolverines’ coach Frank Hepler said he was proud of his team for not coming out flat after an opening-week victory at North Forsyth.

“We didn’t know much about Adairsville, so we didn’t know if they were going to be real strong or not,” he said. “We just told the kids not to fall in a trap of playing a great game last week [and] then come out tonight not knowing your opponent and let up.”

Tigers’ running back Niagel Curtis was a one-man offense for the visitors, racking up 260 yards and scoring three touchdowns. Hepler was impressed with the performance, while noting that his defense wasn’t getting much rest due to the quick scoring drives by the offense.

“He’s a good back,” Hepler said of Curtis. “We knew of him on the films. I think we got up 21-0 and our defense had been on the field a lot because our offense was scoring so quickly, and we got a little tired, we gave ‘em a quick touchdown ... but not to take anything, he is a very good runner, so the teams down the road had better look out for him.”

The Tigers got on the board late in the first quarter after a solid kick return put them in business at the Wolverines’ 42.  Curtis carried the ball four times on a six-play drive, running 11 yards for the touchdown and taking in the two-point conversion to make it 21-8.

West added another touchdown before the end of the first quarter, a 59-yard pass from Baker to Reese Patton, then forced a three-and-out and scored again early in the second quarter to make things 35-8. The fifth Wolverine touchdown was set up by a 32-yard pass from Baker to Andy Cameron. Emert finished off the drive with a three-yard run.

Adairsville’s offensive highlight occurred on the next possession, as Curtis ran right through the middle of the line and motored up the field for 78 yards and a touchdown. A two-point conversion attempt was no good, leaving the count 35-14.

West ate up about half of the second quarter with a long ensuing drive that covered 78 yards and ended with a one-yard touchdown run from Emert.

A 76-yard Tiger drive ended in a three-yard touchdown run for Curtis, his third score. He then ran in another two-pointer to make it 42-22.

West added two more touchdowns before halftime. First, the defense got in on the scoring action, as sophomore Robert Lewis blocked the punt following a three-and-out and senior Rusty Juneau scooped up the loose ball and ran about 30 yards for a touchdown.

West then recovered another fumble with 1:05 left in the half, and went 28 yards for Touchdown No. 8. Baker hit Shirley for 28 yards, with a missed point after resulting in the 55-22 total after an action-packed first half.

Any lingering doubt as to the outcome was quickly removed at the beginning of the third, when Chapman returned the opening kick of the half to the Tiger 34, and West scored again three plays later on a 16-yard Shirley run to make it 62-22.

Throughout the night, big plays picking up double-digit yardage were the Wolverines’ bread-and-butter, something Hepler attributed to both the coaches and players on that side of the ball.

“I just think our offensive coaches do a great job in trying to take what’s there, and our kids do a good job of execution. ... We’re striving to be successful on every play, on every day, on every game,” he said.

Adairsville managed one more score in the third, taking the ball 74 yards in nine plays. Eli Nations completed a 10-yard pass to Catlin Alford to cap off the drive, and Curtis again converted the deuce to give the visitors 30 points.

A 30-yard field goal by David Rooney in the third, and two touchdown drives in the fourth finally ended West’s scoring outburst. Backups Colton Cloud and Brandon Keith recorded scoring runs of one yard and 28 yards respectively. Point-after attempts on the last two scores were unsuccessful.

The Wolverines head into Region 7-AAA play this Friday, traveling to Jasper for a region crossover match with the Pickens Dragons. Hepler says his job will be to make sure his team doesn’t get too high on itself after wins in both non-region games this year.

“These guys are hungry from what I can tell. ... Region teams, they circle you. They know about you, so we can’t be satisfied or happy. We’ve got to stay grounded. I hope they’re hungry and they want to do better than just being 2-0,” the coach said.