Jason Galt’s debut at North Forsyth couldn’t have gone much better.
The first-year head coach looked on as the Raiders controlled the line of scrimmage, racking up 271 rushing yards en route to a 31-0 victory over Forsyth Central on Friday at Raider Valley.
The win marked the first time North has shut out an opponent since a 21-0 win against West Forsyth in 2010.
Harris Roberts (82), Jamal Davenport (48), Noah Bieber (44) and Payton Holbrooks (42) wore out the Central defense for a combined 216 rushing yards, an average of 7.7 yards per carry.
"It was hard work and dedication," Davenport said. "Coach was on our backs 24/7 and making us do what we needed to do and getting it together with confidence. …It’s from staying in the weight training room and working out as hard as we could. We got pushed."
The Bulldogs (0-1, 0-0 Region 7A-AAAAA) came out firing on the first drive of the game, marching 55 yards on eight plays to the North 30, but quarterback Michael Branigan was pressured up the middle and fumbled, where sophomore defensive back Peyton Runion recovered the ball at the 43.
The North (1-0, 0-0 Region 6-AAAAAA) defense continued its stingy performance and didn’t allow Central to cross the Raiders’ 30 yard-line the entire game. Central finished the game with only 90 passing yards and 69 rushing yards.
"We fought hard and kept physically just pounding them, pounding them, pounding them," linebacker Jerret Paige said. "We played hard the whole game."
The Raiders’ offense was just as imposing.
Quarterback Harris Roberts used a fake punt to convert a fourth-and-nine at the North 44 with a 15-yard direct snap run. The senior continued to elude the defense with another fourth-and-nine attempt, as he took a 24-yard scramble down the left sideline to give the Raiders at 7-0 lead with 3:06 left in the first quarter.
"It wasn’t easy," Galt said. "We put a lot of time in the summer, and I’ve been to a lot of places and some pretty good programs and what we do is more difficult than all the places I’ve been, and that’s by design. They earned this victory.
"…As the game started going on, what we do started working, which is smash-mouth power football."
Senior Joseph Bailey added to the lead with a 35-yard field goal on North’s ensuing drive, capping off an 11-play, 57-yard drive to make the score 10-0 with 7:30 left in the second quarter.
North’s last scoring drive of the half took only one play. Following a Central fumble at its own 27, Roberts rolled out to his left and connected with junior Colton Miller with only 53.7 seconds left in the quarter and gave North a 17-0 halftime lead.
Not much changed after intermission, as North continued to pound the ball and demoralize Central’s defensive line. The Raiders went 80 yards on nine plays, while Zachary Slaton finished the drive with a two-yard run up the middle to put North ahead 24-0.
Holbrooks tacked on North’s last points with an 8-yard sweep to make the final score 31-0.
The Raiders defense didn’t let up and held the Bulldogs to only 39 yards the entire second half.
"It was a good old-fashioned butt-whipping," said Central first-year head coach Shane Williamson. "They physically pounded us and that was something we were afraid of watching them from their scrimmage game. First quarter, we gave some turnovers that they took advantage of and that kind of put us behind the eight ball."
North hosts Dawson County next Friday, while Central will play at home against South Forsyth.