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Football: Senior backs set to carry load for Forsyth Central
Forsyth Central senior Patrick Haertel, center, figures to see plenty of action in the backfield, while senior Marcus Brown, left, will split time on both sides of the ball, and senior Carson Leak will lead the defense at linebacker. - photo by Jacob Smith

2021 Football Schedule

Aug. 20 – Northview at Forsyth Central

Aug. 27 – Forsyth Central at Etowah

Sept. 3 – Loganville at Forsyth Central

Sept. 10 – Forsyth Central at Cambridge

Sept. 17 – Forsyth Central at Gainesville

Sept. 23 – BYE

Oct. 1 – Denmark at Forsyth Central

Oct. 8 – Forsyth Central at North Forsyth

Oct. 15 – Forsyth Central at West Forsyth

Oct. 22 – Lambert at Forsyth Central

Oct. 29 – BYE

Nov. 5 – South Forsyth at Forsyth Central

By Noah Rubin 

For the Forsyth County News

The David Rooney era is set to begin at Forsyth Central. Rooney, who previously served as the team’s defensive coordinator, is ready to continue to build the culture of the team.

“The past three years at Central have been awesome,” Rooney said. “I was excited to have the opportunity to be the head coach once Coach [Hepler] left because of pride in what I believed this program was and can continue to be.”

One factor that will help them avoid any drop off from a head coaching change is their lack of turnover with the rest of the staff.

The Bulldogs maintained a majority of last year’s coaches, bringing in only three new faces. That familiarity between the players and coaches should pay dividends for the team.

That consistency in structure will help with more than just the relationships between the players and coaches. The philosophy remains largely the same as well.

“I think it all starts up front with the offensive and defensive lines,” Rooney said. “We’re going to be young there at many positions. I think our offensive line because of injury – we have two seniors on the offensive line that are injured at this time, and they’re going to come back at some point during the season. But the first few games is going to be nothing but underclassmen. So, to see where they started in spring, through the progress of summer, and then the padded camps we went to, they’ve really come a long way, and we really feel good about our offensive line.”

2020 Results

4-4 Overall, 1-4 Region 6-7A

Forsyth Central 14, Loganville 7

Forsyth Central 41, Cambridge 14

Gainesville 33, Forsyth Central 28

Denmark 21, Forsyth Central 0

Forsyth Central 28, North Forsyth 27

West Forsyth 21, Forsyth Central 0

Lambert 43, Forsyth Central 42

Forsyth Central 21, Etowah 7

The offensive line will be anchored by 6-foot-3, 285-pound junior Luke Sacchetti, who was a first-team all-county selection last season as a sophomore and will continue to be a big piece for the Bulldogs over the next two years.

“They’ve really developed a lot,” senior running back Patrick Haertel said of the team’s offensive line. “At the padded camp we went to, the offensive line was great. Running behind them, I had tons of open holes. So, they’ve developed really well, and I’m excited to run behind them.”

Fellow senior Marcus Brown, who plays both cornerback and running back, described Haertel as a downhill runner and believes Haertel added another element to his game during the offseason.

Trophy Case

First varsity season: 1955 

Playoff appearances: 6 (1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2018) 

Region titles: 3 (1996, 1997, 2000) 

State titles: 0

“Patrick is very good at downhill running, and he’s improving on his cutting and reading the field more,” Brown said. “Last year he just ran straight, but we’ve got a coach helping us with our cuts and reading holes.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the team is led by senior linebacker Carson Leak, who had a team-high 115 tackles last season and forced three fumbles. Leak is excited to work with this group of guys this season and is proud of how they’ve worked this summer.

“We’ve been putting in the work as a team collectively, and we’ve all been buying in pretty well together,” Leak said. “We lost some guys from last year, but we’re coming back with a young group that is going to be ready to go. We’ve got me and my brother [Camden Leak] at middle linebacker, some returning guys on the line that are going to be ready to go. We’ve been putting in the work in the weight room with Coach Christie, and we’re going to ready to go and show people what we can do.”

Forsyth Central opens its season Aug. 20 at home against Northview. The players have a few other games marked on their schedule. Rival North Forsyth, who the Bulldogs beat in a thriller 28-27 last season is marked on their schedule, as is Gainesville, a 33-28 winner last season against Central.

With two teams – Denmark and West Forsyth – advancing to the second round of the playoffs last season, Rooney knows how difficult winning in their region can be.

“We have an extremely competitive region,” Rooney said. “We’re all capable of being region champs and we’re all capable of going 0-6. Every week is going to have a great battle.”