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Football: County's student sections bring unique dimensions to Friday night atmosphere
StudentSections West web
West Forsyth's student section is called the "Gulo Gang." - photo by File photo

STUDENT SECTIONS AT A GLANCE

Forsyth Central

Name: Central Crazies

Founded: 2008

Trademark chant: One person yells, “Whose house?!” Students responds, “C-HOUSE!”

Other traditions: After touchdowns, the Crazies’ leaders run with flags from one end of the stands and back.

Rival student section: North Forsyth

On Twitter: @FCHS_Crazies

Lambert

Name: Dead Red Nation

Founded: 2009-10 school year.

Leadership: Jaryd Jean-Felix, Jack Ligas and Andrew Melms.

Trademark chant: “We got that Longhorn pride!”

Other traditions: “Being 1,000 times better than all other student sections,” they said.

Rival student section: South Forsyth.

On Twitter: @dadsrednation

North Forsyth

Name: Raider Nation

Founded: 2013-14 school year.

Leadership: Jon Aiken, Beltre, Brandon Coury, Connor Stephenson and Grant Tootle.

Trademark chant: The entire student section chants, “RAIDER NATION!” This season, they've added a chant of “Build that wall!” when the opposing team’s offense faces third and fourth downs.

Other traditions: The leaders always wear referee jerseys, which are passed down from the previous year’s leaders.

Rival student section: Forsyth Central

On Twitter: @Raider_Nation15

Pinecrest Academy

Name: None

Founded: 2015

Leadership: Michael Denkman, Joe Garcia and Stephen Morrisey.

Trademark chant: The leaders chant, “We are!” Other students respond, “P-A!”

Other traditions: None, except they did shave a student’s head at halftime of a basketball game last season.

Rival student section: Mount Paran Christian.

On Twitter: @pastudentsec

South Forsyth

Name: BCP (Blue Clown Posse)

Founded: 2002

Leadership: Cole Smedley and PJ Szczesny

Trademark chant: Leaders will chant, “SO-FO!” The rest of the student section responds, “YOU KNOW!”

Other traditions: Students make a point of entering the stands last, and with ample noise, to hype up the crowd.

Rival student section: Lambert, West Forsyth

On Twitter: @sofonation16

West Forsyth

Name: Gulo Gang

Founded: 2013 by Jacob Congrove, Chris Cullen, Russell Davis, Matt Moon and Alec Wilson

Leadership: Ford Imbourne, Gavin Rosenblum, Nico Szabo and Ty Williams

Trademark chant: During kickoff, students chant, “Ohhhhhhhhh, G-U-L-O, GULO!” in similar fashion to tradition at the University of Georgia. After touchdowns, they say, “R-I-P Harambe, Rest In Peace Harambe!”

Other traditions: Gulo Grove tailgate (based on Ole Miss’s tailgate area, The Grove), including a student playing electric guitar

Rival student section: South Forsyth

On Twitter: @WFHSGG

On Sept. 9, West Forsyth hosted Hillgrove at The Den on the same night that South Forsyth hosted ranked South Gwinnett and Lambert welcomed a powerful, talented Cherokee team.

The Den was center stage—literally.

Two television crews—WSBTV and Fox 5—as well as radio station Q100 showed up to document the sights and sounds of what turned out to be one of the more memorable home games in West’s short history—a 56-35 drubbing of the Hawks from Powder Springs, a fertile ground for football talent.

When the clock struck zero fans trickled onto the field to celebrate, even though the field rush was more reserved than usual. Still, chants of “Gulo! Gulo!” were audible every few moments, and a giant, shiny, gold flag waved proudly as fans happily returned to their cars.

Not in every stadium around the state do you see environments like the one put on display that night, but in Forsyth County the art of gameday atmosphere knows no bounds, and the ambitious students who strive to create environments comparable to college Saturdays take on a bulk of the challenge.

That’s what the Gulo Gang—West’s official student section and the only student section in the county whose Twitter account is affiliated with the school—did before the Hillgrove game that Friday morning. They put on their second annual “Gulo Gameday,” a play off the famous Saturday morning show College Gameday that airs on ESPN with personalities such as Desmond Howard, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso.

Except during Gulo Gameday the personalities were Nico Szabo, Ford Imbornone, Marshall Orr and Ty Williams. Integrated into a pep rally setting, the four seniors dressed up in suits, adorned a set with makeshift but impressive logos cut out of cardboard, and put on their own production to hype up the game.

“Last year we did it, but we maybe had a little over 100 kids show up, with signs and stuff just like on the show,” Imbornone said. “But this year we had the entire school behind us, the staff was down there. We want to do it again for the Lambert game and the South game, so we’ve got work ahead of us.”

Being a student section leader isn’t fun and games for the Gulo Gang. Szabo thinks it’s a full-time job.

“I never thought I would ever even put this on my college resume. Who cares right?” Szabo said. “But after getting into it, and realizing how much we actually do, I absolutely will. It’s hard work.”

Imbornone and Szabo were anointed two of the 2016 Gulo Gang leaders after their commitment to sporting events during last season. Each year, the senior class passes down the leadership role to the rising seniors.

The Gulo Gang started when West opened in 2007, then it was transformed into the X-Men (a play on the fact one of the hit comic’s most famous characters is, you guessed it, Wolverine). But current Stanford baseball player Alec Wilson had other ideas, as did current school Principal Heather Gordy. They brought back the Gulo Gang moniker and tied the student section closer to the school.

“It’s not an exclusive club,” Imbornone said. “Basically, if you go to West, you’re part of the Gulo Gang. You’re encouraged to do everything we do. We sell t-shirts in the mornings, start tailgates around 5 p.m. here and set up cornhole and ping pong. Each game we do a theme. Heck, the band here is part of the Gulo Gang.”

Rivaling the Gulo Gang are the student sections from the other schools in the county. South Forsyth has the Blue Clown Posse, known for their moniker-adorned tank tops. Lambert has Dead Red Nation, which even gets its own announced intro through the PA system at football games after the national anthem plays—further tying them to the team. Forsyth Central and North Forsyth are also well known for their long-standing sections, the Central Crazies and Raider Nation, respectively.

According to Szabo, the rivalries are friendlier than they appear.

“We know so many kids from the other schools, it’s really…we have friends leading a lot of the other sections. We had South kids coming here to games last year as well. It’s really much more a friendly thing than people think,” Szabo said.

Each week the student groups attempt to one-up each other with powder tosses, themed outfits including hunting gear, American flag apparel and Hawai’ian shirts that undoubtedly came from Goodwill.

But the real competition comes on the field, and with region play set to begin next weekend, the student sections are preparing to amp it up.

“We know we make a difference during games,” Imbornone said. “Coach (Clack) said it last year when we beat South. The players have told us that. And last week against Hillgrove, you could tell those kids just weren’t used to being in an environment like this.”