By Steven Watkins
For the Forsyth County News
Forsyth Central’s first playoff appearance since 2000 ended in a 56-0 shutout at Archer High School.
The 9-1 Tigers won the toss, deferred, and began moving the ball seemingly at will, both on the ground and through the air.
Archer would finish with over 400 yards of total yards of offense, while holding the visiting Bulldogs to just over 100 and only two first downs—the first occurring on the final play of the first half on a 13-yard run by quarterback Bronson Landreth.
Landreth lead the Central offense with 58 rushing yards on ten carries against a stingy Tiger defense, led by five-star recruit and Clemson commit Andrew Booth, that swarmed to the ball on virtually every play.
Defensively, the Bulldogs showed flashes of promise against the run but continuously allowed explosive plays against the Tiger offense, including a 33-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Carter Peevy to Trev Messer, as well as a 76-yard rushing score to DJ Tavlor on the second play of the second half.
Regardless of the first-round exit and the final score, Central head coach Frank Hepler left absolutely no doubt regarding his feelings of his 2018 squad’s remarkable turnaround and the departing senior class that helped make it possible.
The Bulldogs, who finished 0-10 last year, the second season of Hepler’s tenure, made the playoffs for the first time since 2000, beat a county team for the first time since 2007 and beat South Forsyth for the first time since 2001, among other milestones. They finished with a 7-4 record overall, the team’s most wins since 2001.
And they did it with no small amount of adversity, either, losing two starting quarterbacks over the course of the year and playing without standout linebacker Mitch Weber, who suffered a season-ending injury in the team’s fall scrimmage.
“It was just a great opportunity for our program to be in the playoffs,” Hepler said. “For our seniors that struggled through the last years of some tough seasons, I give them a lot of credit for battling back.”