By Patricia Duffy
For the Forsyth County News
On a warm Friday night at North DeKalb Stadium, Forsyth Central head football coach Frank Hepler looked at his football team and asked a simple question:
“It feels a lot better, right? That’s a pretty good score to make someone pay for it.”
Forsyth Central High School (3-1) started strong and fast against Lakeside-DeKalb (1-3) and never seemed to slow down. The Bulldogs’ option offense was on full display in its 47-0 trouncing of the Vikings, with 11 players rushing the ball and only six passes being attempted overall.
“We got a lot of guys in,” Hepler said. “We were very multiple on both sides of the ball.”
Just one week removed from a 7-3 defensive loss to Denmark, Central was able to get into a rhythm and capitalize off of its depth at running back in its first shutout since 2011, when it beat Cass 28-0.
Central’s rout started early with senior running back Dalton Edmunds breaking free on a 56-yard run to Lakeside’s 3-yard line. On the next play, Edmunds broke multiple on his way to the end zone.
With both teams relying heavily on their run game, Lakeside opened its first drive gaining steady yards via junior quarterback Blake Miccichi, but Central’s defense shut the drive down on a pivotal third down play that saw the momentum shift to favor the Bulldogs and never shift back.
“It feels good,”said senior running back Devran Orsan, Central’s lead rusher on the night. “I like seeing everyone else get the ball and make touchdowns. It’s great seeing my teammates score.”
The rest of the half saw much of the same: Central scoring on all but one of its remaining drives and Lakeside unable to get anything going, only moving into Central territory once.
With a minute left prior to the half, it looked as though the Bulldogs would punt it away. A costly 15-yard personal foul penalty put Central at its own 26 on third down with 1:34 to go. But senior receiver Tristen Rose made one of the game’s few plays through the air count, pulling a pass in for for 74 yards and the score to put the Bulldogs up 26-0 at the half.
Lakeside received the ball to start the second half, but the Vikings continued to struggle, only putting up 154 yards of total offense on the night.
Central scored 21 points in the second half, but one of the night’s main highlights didn’t come on a score. Senior running back Tyreese Raftin darted down the field for 76 yards late in the third, which set up another Bulldog touchdown.
Just a couple minutes later, sophomore fullback Eli Ruis notched the last points of the night with a 9-yard rushing touchdown after great field position and a flag put Central starting at first and goal.
Four games in, Central’s season looks light years different than it did last year, when the Bulldogs went 0-10 on the year.
“I feel like, this year, we’re more physical up front, and our offensive line and defense are a lot better,” Orsan said. “We really just want to finish. We don’t want a repeat of last year. It’s just that drive after 0-10. We want to be better.”
The scheme change has played a large part in the improvement, and Hepler and his coaches are feeding off of the success.
“It’s an offense that we need to continue to work, continue to run,” Hepler said. “It fits our guys pretty good.”