Do you know how good you have it, Forsyth County?
We are spoiled, really, with athletes and coaches that coalesce into strong teams, and when those teams meet they often collide in compelling competition. Add packed crowds and high stakes, and it made for a 2015-16 school year filled with incredible games.
Which brings us to our now annual tradition of the Forsyth County News sports staff ranking our 10 favorite games of the school year, a daunting task considering all the material county teams provide.
Here are the final top 5. Look back at Nos. 6-10 in our first installment here.
5. Lambert golf at state
The Longhorns went to Sunset Country Club in Moultrie looking for their fourth-consecutive state championship in girls golf. Two seniors, Kayley Marschke and Lauren Lightfritz, were going after a goal that they set for themselves after their first state title as freshman. The course was playing tough—the greens were hard due to dry conditions, which made the small landing areas an impossible task for even the most skilled golfers. Most girls were above par at the turn and worried about their scores, but Lambert’s Kate Owens, a sophomore, bounced back from two bogeys and a double-bogey on holes 7-9 to win the entire tournament and help Lambert take state by just six strokes over region rival Alpharetta.
- Michael Foster
4. North Forsyth vs. Mountain View wrestling
It’s called Coal Mountain Magic – this intangible quality at North that seems to manifest at the most crucial moments of games with unbelievable results – and no other Raiders program seems to benefit from it more than North wrestling.
Example: the Raiders’ semifinal match at the GHSA State Duals against Mountain View on Jan. 15. North rallied over the final weight classes until it came down to Hunter Loyd at 195.
The senior earned a 5-4 decision for a three-point victory to clinch North’s spot in the state championship against national power Archer. Some residual Coal Mountain Magic helped the Raiders put a serious scare into Archer in the finals, but not enough. Still, North announced its presence as a contender.
- Brian Paglia
3. Harrison at South Forsyth volleyball
I have never seen a volleyball match like this one, and I’m certain Forsyth County hasn’t either.
The crowd, to start, was electric in The Nest at South Forsyth on Oct. 28, filled to capacity and hanging on every play.
The teams, also, were so, so, so good, even in skill and experience, that they pushed each other to the absolute brink of what five sets could allow just like when they met in the regular season. Only this was the state semifinals with a berth in the Class AAAAAA championship at stake.
South dropped the first set, won the next two, lost the fourth, and then fell behind in the pivotal fifth, only to come back and clinch the match, 15-11, to become the county’s first GHSA member school to reach the volleyball state championship.
- Brian Paglia
2. West Forsyth at Lambert football
There no more back-and-forth football game in Forsyth County than when the Wolverines travelled to The Horn on Oct. 23.
West got out to a 16-7 lead, but Lambert responded to go up 21-16. West led 24-21. The Lambert went up 28-24 – all the while doing it with sophomore running backs Marcus Chatelain and Will Kohlins after injuries to the Longhorns’ top three running backs.
On and on it went until the very end, until West had the ball in Lambert territory as time ticked away but fumbled away its final chance as the Longhorns prevailed for a 35-31 victory to remain undefeated in the region.
- Brian Paglia
1. South Forsyth at West Forsyth football
A halfback pass on fourth-and-1, a desperation heave and an onside kick. This game had it all in the final moments as the Wolverines used their bag of tricks to erase a 34-24 deficit and defeat the War Eagles at home. This game was an epic shootout between two budding quarterbacks in South’s Davis Shanley (21 of 31, 251 yards, three touchdowns, 115 yards rushing) and West’s Kiernen Hamilton (18 of 29, 245 yards, five touchdowns). West’s Bryce Jones caught the touchdown from 33 yards out to make it 34-31, then successfully executed the onside kick that gave Hamilton the ball for the game-winning drive. Clint Hall recorded the game-clinching sack and was moved to tears afterward. Still, the War Eagles bounced back from their first loss of the season to finish 11-2 and advance to the state quarterfinals.
- Michael Foster