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Football: Denmark beats West Forsyth to claim region championship
Denmark junior Dee Crayton celebrates Friday after scoring one of his two touchdowns during the Danes' 21-7 win against West Forsyth. Photo by Jay Rooney Photography for the Forsyth County News

For the first time in program history, Denmark’s football team is the region champion.

After defeating West Forsyth 21-7 on Friday, the Danes finish their regular season with a 5-1 record in Region 6-7A play. Having beaten South Forsyth earlier in the season, Denmark owns the tiebreaker over the War Eagles, giving the Danes the region title and the No. 1 seed entering the Class 7A playoffs.

Head coach Mike Palmieri was proud of the way his team responded after losing to Gainesville last week.

“The boys earned it, man,” Palmieri said. “Last week we didn’t play real good [and] we didn’t coach real well. But this week we had a great week of practice. We paid attention to detail, and it worked out for us.”

Denmark’s defense locked down the potent Wolverine offense, allowing zero offensive points. The only points that West scored came on a 96-yard pick-six from Raleigh Herbert. 

“We play pretty good defense now,” Palmieri said. “We’ve been playing great defense all year, and I told them we've just got to keep working, one play at a time. The boys played hard all year long. Last week was a real bad game for us, and we wanted to come back and tackle better and do the things we do, and we did.”

Asher West and William Hodges each recorded two sacks for the Danes, with the team recording a total of five sacks and recovering a fumble.

Junior Dee Crayton said it was a total team effort to get the win.

“I give all the credit to Coach P,” Crayton said. “We gameplanned well. First half last year, I wasn’t in front of Oscar. That’s when he got his points. Second half last year, that’s when I got in front of him, and that was working, so we plugged that into the gameplan this year. This whole game, I knew I had to get my revenge because we lost last year in the region championship. I knew I had to get my revenge, and I was locked in this whole game, making sure Oscar didn’t make plays. We held them to that, and I had to step up on offense with two touchdowns. Whatever we've got to do to win, I’m here for it. We just kept our heads up. After that pick-six, we didn’t get down on ourselves. We knew we had three quarters ahead of us. We just fought to the end. We really worked for this since the summer, so it’s all paying off.”

Crayton scored two of the three touchdowns for Denmark, with Kohl Yearwood scoring the other on a 23-yard catch in the first quarter. Amon Williams was the workhorse for Denmark, finishing with 150 yards on 34 carries. 

“All of them on offense [are beasts],” Palmieri said. “Amon’s a hard-nosed runner, a hard-nosed kid. We’re blessed to have him.”

With the victory, Denmark will host Mountain View, the four-seed from Region 8-7A, next Friday. 

West head coach Dave Svhela gave credit where it was due, acknowledging how well Denmark played.

“I thought Denmark played outstanding tonight,” Svhela said. “They played a lot better than we did. I thought their defensive line was a lot better than we were up front tonight. That made a big difference. We couldn’t run the ball very well. We couldn’t protect the quarterback very well. They played great defense all year, and we knew that coming in. We were hoping we could get a couple things. When we did get a couple things going, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot. We had an offensive pass interference call down there. We had a couple penalties. We dropped the football. But they played better than us, and they deserved to win. They deserved to be the region champs, because that’s the best team that we’ve played in the region.”

Keegan Stover finished 17-of-32 passing for 142 yards, and Jaycen Harris added five catches for 51 yards.

Despite the loss, West will still be a No. 3 seed in the state tournament. The Wolverines' first-round matchup next Friday will feature a familiar opponent: Mill Creek. Earlier in the season, Mill Creek defeated the Wolverines 38-10.

“Well, we’re in the playoffs,” Svhela said. “We got a game next week, and we’re gonna play a team that we’ve already played this year, and they’re really good. That’s the way it goes. One of the goals at the beginning of the season is to make the playoffs, and in our region, it’s not a given. We’re there, and we’ll see what happens next week. We’ll regroup. Our kids won’t hang their heads. It is what it is. We would've loved to have won tonight, but we’re gonna get on a bus and go play a really good football team next week, and we’re gonna prepare this week to try and beat them.”