If there was a theme for the 2013 sports year in Forsyth County, it was that we got to enjoy the spotlight a little more.
From big-time commitments by high school players, to high-profile coaching hires, to MLB draftees, to state championship runs, the county made headlines from start to finish perhaps unlike any year before.
The Forsyth County News sport staff looks back at the ones that made the biggest waves.
10. Football frenzy
The final night of regular season football proved to be a wild one, as three local teams—West Forsyth, North Forsyth and Lambert—solidified spots in the playoffs. West had already clinched a post-season bid by taking down South on the road but fell to Lambert, 33-14, costing the Wolverines a home playoff game. The Longhorns, on the other hand, not only punched a ticket to the postseason by beating West, but jumped all the way to the second seed—giving them the coveted home game. North took down South to not only clinch a playoff berth, but eliminated the War Eagles, as well.
9. Maryland pride
For the remainder of their high school careers, sophomore basketball stars Sarah Myers and Jenna Staiti will be heated rivals—Myers for South, Staiti for West. Upon graduation, however, the two will become teammates for the Maryland Lady Terrapins, one of the top NCAA women’s basketball programs in the country. The two committed to Maryland prior to the start of the 2013-14 campaign, wasting no time in the recruiting process. So far this season, both have showed why they earned Division I scholarship offers: Myers is averaging 18.3 points per game, and Staiti is averaging 22.5.
8. Watkins hired
In a surprising move, longtime basketball coach Tony Watkins left Parkview High School in May to run Lambert’s girls basketball program. In two seasons at Parkview—considered by some as the best team in the state—Watkins had an impressive 59-2 record. In his 32-plus years as a head coach, he has coached more than 800 games. Under Watkins’ tutelage, the Lady Longhorns are 3-6 so far in 2013-14 and are 0-3 in their region. A young team with five sophomores, two freshmen and just three seniors, Lambert has shown signs of progress—winning three of their first five games of the season.
7. Almost three
The Lambert boys lacrosse team came one win away from earning three straight state championships, falling in the title game to Centennial in a tightly-contested match, 15-12. Despite being down six goals late in the third period, Lambert orchestrated a rally to come within one goal midway through the fourth quarter, and had several good opportunities to tie the game. But the No. 2 Knights were able to cling to their lead—denying the Longhorns the right to dynasty status.
6. Dream come true
Former South star Jake Drehoff was picked by the Boston Red Sox in the 12th round of the MLB Draft. Drehoff, a left-handed pitcher with a low-90s fastball and knee-buckling change-up, spent two seasons at Southern Mississippi before joining the Red Sox organization in the latter half of this season in the Gulf Coast League, where he posted impressive numbers. While with the GCL Sox, the 6-foot-4 southpaw registered a 1.80 ERA, six strikeouts and zero walks in 10 innings of work.
5. A new standard
South volleyball had already raised the bar of what a Forsyth County team could accomplish in 2012 after reaching the Class AAAAAA quarterfinals. Turns out the Lady War Eagles had even better things in store for 2013. Behind a veteran core, South won a school- and county-record 49 matches, spent several weeks ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAAA and took the next step in reaching the state semifinals. Sure, South lost to Walton, who went on to win its fourth straight state title, but the Lady War Eagles announced their presence on the volleyball scene with a historic season.
4. Big commitments
It’s not often Forsyth makes waves in the world of high school football recruiting -- let alone twice in one year. So when Lambert senior tight end Chris Laye committed to Auburn in April and West senior Andrew Marshall committed to Georgia Tech in September, it got the attention of popular recruiting websites 247Sports and Rivals.com. Both held significance for the players’ respective schools. Laye became the first Lambert player to commit, and eventually sign, with a Division I and SEC program. Marshall became West’s first player to commit to an in-state Division I program.
3. Going to Carolina
Recruiting certainly seems to be trending up in Forsyth. Just take former Lambert outfielder Brock Maxwell and former West linebacker Mohamed Camara. The two inked their letters of intent with South Carolina — Maxwell in late January, Camara a week later on National Signing Day in February. Maxwell joined a Gamecocks baseball program not far removed from back-to-back national titles, while Camara joined a football program that’s reached top-15 status under Steve Spurrier.
2. History defeated
Frustration had pent up for three years for South, for a year for Lambert. The War Eagles had lost all three meetings with the Longhorns, the heated county rival that was created out of South. Lambert saw its only meeting against county rival West end in an overtime loss in 2012’s regular season finale. Both got revenge. Behind a punishing rushing attack, South defeated Lambert for a 21-14 victory. Students and fans stormed the field. Weeks later, the Longhorns used a punishing defense to upset West in the regular season finale and secure the No. 2 seed in the region.
1. Girl power
Forsyth County high school athletic teams have won state titles before. But not like this. Not with such a flurry of dominance. In February, Lambert’s girls swimming team won the Class AAAAAA title. In April, it was the gymnastics team’s turn, edging Tift County by .675 points for the state title. In May, the girls golf team finally broke through to win the title after back-to-back runner-up finishes. In November, the competition cheerleading team won its second straight state title. Together, it was a remarkable run for Lambert’s young athletic program and its female sports in particular.