Forsyth Central 27, Cass 14
Cass 0 14 0 0_14
Forsyth Central 7 7 6 7_27
FC: Aguirre 21 pass from Hartshorn (kick good), 8:35
FC: Diebel 14 run (kick good), 7:35
C: Wilkey 46 run (kick good), 6:05
C: Wilkey 5 run (kick good), 1:42
FC: Stephens 9 run (kick missed), 7:42
FC: Stephens 34 run (kick good), 9:46
The running back trio of Shaun Diebel, Hunter Stephens and Pierce Nufer led Forsyth Central to its best season in 13 years.
With a 27-14 win over Cass on Friday at Bulldog Stadium, the Bulldogs finish the season at 6-4, its first winning record since 2001.
"This is something we’re been working on since January," Central coach Shane Williamson said. "We brought our players in and said bottom line we got to come together as a team. We got to get stronger in the weight room and we just got to be able to bond together and that’s something they achieved."
Diebel led the way with 27 carries, 184 yards and a touchdown, but it was the arm of sophomore quarterback Jagger Hartshorn that opened the game for Central (6-4). Hartshorn went 2-for-3 for 39 yards including a 21-yard touchdown pass to Noah Aguirre on Central’s first possession.
That was the extent of Hartshorn’s work, however, as he only saw five offensive snaps the rest of the game. In his place, it was the familiar name of Diebel that carried Central’s offense for most of the night.
"I wanted to do it for the seniors," Diebel said. "It’s our last year together. It was a team effort for sure. It was shaky in the beginning but in the end we just came together and pulled it off."
After the Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-0 advantage, a couple of big plays for Cass allowed them to pull even.
Senior running back Keelyn Wilkey broke at least a half dozen tackles en route to a 46-yard touchdown run to open the scoring for Cass (5-5).
A seven-play, 95-yard drive was capped off by another Wilkey touchdown, this one from 5 yards, on Cass’s next possession.
Central came out strong to begin the second half. A three-and-out on defense followed by a six-play, 87-yard drive on offense put Central back in the lead for good.
"To get a winning season is huge," Williamson said. "We wanted to be in the playoffs but the bottom line was we had an opportunity to carry a winning season just about all the way through the year going into game 10, and I said, ‘Guys we got a chance to end it with a winning season."
Stephens (12 carries, 75 yards, two touchdowns) had a big second half for Central on both sides of the ball. On offense, he scored both of Central’s second half touchdowns and then stayed on the field to make tackle after tackle for Central on defense.
"Everybody’s making fun of me because I got a haircut to support all the seniors for the last game," Stephens said. "I’m just happy we came out with the win."
Nufer (nine carries, 55 yards) also played well for a Central team that racked up 345 yards on the ground and looks to carry its momentum into next season.
"Being able to build off of a winning season should put some fire up under our guys," Williamson said. "We’ve got some potential, but at the same time we lose a strong group of seniors that’s led. That’s the big thing is being able to have a group that can come in and lead, so that’s the stuff that we’ll be working on during the offseason."