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Flag football returns to Forsyth County for second season
Ashley Chu
South Forsyth quarterback Ashley Chu, left, looks to throw the ball Tuesday during the War Eagles' 19-0 loss to Forsyth Central. - photo by David Roberts

Forsyth Central's girls flag football team has volleyball players and cheerleaders. 

There are soccer players looking to stay busy before the season starts and softball players whose season ended just last month.

It also consists of those who don't play any other sports at Central.

"... As far as our top ones, we have Sari Waters out here, who is athletic but doesn't play other sports. Katie Robbins ... they're phenomenal athletes," Forsyth Central head coach James Mills said. "Katie's turned out to be a good quarterback. That's a skill position, but she's figured it out pretty quick."

Robbins, who also plays lacrosse, threw a pair of touchdown passes Tuesday during the Bulldogs' 19-0 win against South Forsyth. Lambert also won, beating North Forsyth 24-0, while West Forsyth topped Denmark 19-6.

Zoey Johnson, who also competes in track and field, was one of Central's standouts on defense Tuesday night.

The 2020 season marks the second year of girls flag football in Forsyth County, and the first season as a GHSA-sanctioned sport. 

Central's circumstances are not rare — many teams around the county field a starting lineup that features one-sport players.

West Forsyth, for instance, has enough players this year to field two different teams: a blue team and a gold team.

"It obviously has to do with last year's success. They had a really good season," West head coach Mike Pruitt said. "Coach Phipps did a real good job. He's an old football coach, so he taught these girls a lot. They came into this season having knowing a lot of football, and it was because he brought them into the classroom and just taught them X's and O's, you know? So they have a really good idea of what's going on. I kind of inherited that, but I didn't realize we were going to inherit all of these numbers."

West's blue team is its varsity squad, which found the end zone on its first drive of the night, when Caroline Coggin caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Haylee Dornan.

Dornan also threw one to Abbylin Laprise, and Sara Lemley scored on a TD on the ground.

Denmark answered Coggin's initial touchdown when Jordan Williams sprinted the length of the field, scoring on the Danes' first offensive snap of the game. Quarterback Samantha Pixley ran for a score late in the second half.

West's sidelines erupted following an interception by Emma Anderson, whose 48 teammates celebrated the turnover and created a raucous environment for much of the game.

"We told the girls it's 7-on-7, it's region competition, it's state competition, so we're going to play this to win, so there'll be times when not everybody gets to play," Pruitt said. "We decided to keep a gold team and a blue team, and our blue team would be our varsity-type team. What we're hoping is that this will evolve into where there's enough teams to have a JV, and then we can get a lot of girls involved to play.

"I said, 'I'm not going to cut you, but you don't have to stay,' and they go, 'Coach, I want to stay. I want to stay.' So, that's good. They're having a blast."

Lambert found itself on the other end of the spectrum Tuesday night yet still pulled out a win against the Raiders.

Lambert head coach Scott Luthart said half the Longhorns' roster played last year, but the team was without five starters because of COVID-19 quarantine. 

"It's been an uphill battle because we lost a whole bunch of kids to quarantine at this point," Luthart said. "We missed five girls tonight, which is why we're rostering 10 today, which is low.

"The hard part for us is, with the kids that are missing, you can't run realistic reps during practice because you can't go 7-on-7 because you don't have enough bodies. So, credit to them for dealing with the pressure, and with not having a defensive presence in practice to make it realistic."

Quarterback CC Phillips accounted for three touchdowns, including the final score, when she hit Peyton Kim in the end zone to make it 24-0.

"She was fantastic for us," Luthart said of Kim. "You could see the athleticism and the shiftiness. I was just thrilled with how she learned to read blocks in the middle of the game. The first play maybe, she kind of ran into pressure. Second play, she cut it inside and saw a little daylight. Once she starts figuring that out, she'll be another weapon for us coming out of the backfield."

Phillips also had touchdown throws to Mackenzie Lipton and ran in one more. Delaney Hill scored a touchdown on the ground and made an interception on defense.

North freshman Elise Hendrick also had an interception for the Raiders.

Flag football playoffs will start next month, with the state championship hosted at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta, formerly Turner Field.

"Soccer is a from-the-time-you're-4-and-up sport. By the time you hit this level, if you haven't played, you're not going to get to play. Softball is the same way," Mills said. "But this is a sport that a girl can come in, and if she's a good athlete but has never had a chance to play other sports, this is a good opportunity for them where they can come out."

"If this doesn't come along, they would have graduated without having a sport that they would have played, and now they have one."