By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Eight from North Forsyth headline National Signing Day for Raiders
North Forsyth
North Forsyth signed eight student-athletes Wednesday on National Signing Day. - photo by Lily McGregor Photography

Emma Williams found the last game of her junior season to be her most difficult.

Williams, a midfielder for North Forsyth's girls soccer team, had sprained her ankle about halfway through the 2019 season and hadn't played in a couple of weeks.

Still, it was senior night, and though Williams wasn't a senior herself, she had played with that group for the past three years since starting as a freshman.

The difficulty was in her physical limitations. The choice to play, however, was never a difficult decision to make.

"I was not supposed to be playing full games at that point," Williams said, "but I told them, I said, 'This is our last game of the season. Put me on the field and I don't want to come off.'

"It was demanding. It was probably one of the hardest things I've had to do in my career. And it's tough, because I don't want to make it worse and I don't want to have problems with it down the line. It's kind of that balance between knowing your body and trying to figure out what to do."

Williams signed Wednesday at North Forsyth High School to play soccer at Piedmont College, a Division III school in Demorest that finished 14-7-1 last season and has won three USA South Athletic Conference championships in five years.

Williams was joined by two teammates — Kaylee Baldwin and Lexi Lomax — as well as Caroline Martin (basketball), Alex Gonzalez (swim and dive), Tyler Cunningham (football), Anthony Herock (football), Benjamin Ostaszewski (football) on National Signing Day.

Baldwin arrived at North Forsyth last year and signed to play at Berry College, while Lexi Lomax chose LaGrange College.

Martin, last year's Forsyth County News Player of the Year and a four-year starter, will make the quick trip to Dahlonega to play basketball at the University of North Georgia.

Martin said she's been going to basketball camps at North Georgia since she was in fifth grade.

"It's close to home and that's always been one of my biggest things," Martin said. "I've been going there since I was in kids' camp, so I've always just loved it up there. It kind of felt like home."

North Georgia, which competes in the Peach Belt Conference, went 30-5 last year and reached the Division II Elite Eight.

Martin averaged 14 points per game as a junior and has scored 1,446 career points for the Raiders.

Gonzalez has also etched his name into North Forsyth's record book. He holds a pair of school records at North Forsyth: one in the 100 backstroke and another in the medley relay.

He became the fourth swimmer in school history to sign with a Division I program Wednesday when he signed with the University of Iowa.

Academically, Gonzalez is interested in dentistry, which is something that drew him to Iowa.

He recognizes the parallels between swimming and dentistry, in terms of immediate results, which is something he enjoys.

"That's definitely something you can see off the bat," said Gonzalez, who is also an intern at a dentist's office in Cumming. "Swimming is a number much more than a result like in other sports, so you can really see progress and track how good you're doing."

Gonzalez will compete this weekend in the GHSA swim and dive state championships at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center.

"This year should finally be the year where I can place highly in a lot of events," Gonzalez said. "There's going to be a lot of competition at the top. It's going to be a battle for those top few spots in every race. It's going to have to be some fast swimming on my part, especially Saturday night back at finals. I'm very excited to see what myself and the team can do."

North Forsyth's football team had a trio of signees, including Ostaszewski, who signed with Florida State as a preferred walk-on tight end after his first year with the Raiders.

Ostaszewski's father, Henry Ostaszewski, played at Florida State from 1988-91 under legendary head coach Bobby Bowden.

"Florida State just seemed like the best opportunities as far as getting playing time, and just that whole program with the new coaching staff," Benjamin said. "I think when I went down there for my official visit, I really could tell that they're brewing something up in Tallahassee."

Ostaszewski said he decided to come out for football as a freshman but broke his ankle. After the injury, Ostaszewski, who called himself overweight at 280 pounds, dedicated himself to getting in shape.

"I saw all that progress over the years, then when I went out my senior year it all kind of fell in line," Ostaszewski said. "It was good."

Perhaps his biggest contribution during the 2019 season came during the Raiders' 44-41 win against Brookwood in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs, when Ostaszewski caught a two-point conversion to trim Brookwood's lead to 34-17.

The touchdown and ensuing two-point play served as the catalyst for North Forsyth's second-half comeback, as the Raiders rallied to outscore the Broncos 35-7 after halftime.

Herock also has a family lineage intertwined with football — his father Shaun Herock has worked in the front offices of the Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns, while Anthony's grandfather won the 1967 AFL championship with the Raiders before an extensive career in the NFL.

Herock signed to play football at Gardner-Webb University after a senior season where he caught 45 passes for 577 yards and five touchdowns as the Raiders' primary pass-catching tight end.

Cunningham played a multitude of positions in his second season at North Forsyth, including cornerback, free safety, strong safety, nickel, wide receiver, and he also played special teams.

Cunningham, who moved to Forsyth County from New Jersey in 2018, signed Wednesday to play football at Union College.

Cunningham registered 18 tackles as a senior, adding five pass break-ups and five receptions for 52 yards.