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Football: What we learned from Week 9
West Forsyth sophomore William Orris, right, had 120 yards on 17 carries Friday night. - photo by David Roberts

“Next man up” isn’t only a sports cliché. As the grind of region play wears on, injuries begin to pile up, and teams become as good as their depth. Here’s what we learned from Week 9 of high school football in Forsyth County.

Unlikely heroes lead West past Central

William Orris and Ryder Stewart had a combined seven rushing yards entering Friday’s game against Forsyth Central.

Orris accounted for all seven in West Forsyth’s opener against Mays when he drew four carries in the waning minutes of a blowout victory. Stewart, however, never had a varsity carry prior to the Wolverines’ 21-0 win over Central.

On Friday, the two combined to carry the ball 22 times for 191 yards as Orris (17 carries, 120 yards) and Stewart (5 carries, 71 yards) stepped in for an injured Daba Fofana.

Orris, a sophomore, picked up 70 of those yards on a counter play up the left sideline. Keeping his feet moving and churning through a pack of Central defenders, Orris galloped all the way to the Bulldogs’ 20-yard line, where he was caught from behind by a hustling Peyton Streko.

On the previous drive, Orris caught a 38-yard screen pass from QB Keegan Stover to score his first varsity touchdown.

Stewart, a freshman, averaged more than 14 yards per carry and peeled off a 36-yard run in the second half.

First matchup between Denmark, South has playoff implications

It’ll be a game between former teammates, as each member of Denmark’s senior class started their high school career at a different school, including some from South Forsyth.

Denmark needs the win to keep pace with an upstart Gainesville team, while South dropped its past two games and is suddenly fighting for a playoff berth.

In Region 6-7A play, Denmark and Gainesville are each 3-0 at the top of the standings. West (2-1) and North (2-2) follow, while South (1-2), Central (1-3) and Lambert occupy the last three spots.

Of course, there are still three weeks left in the regular season, so anything can happen. In fact, Central’s win over North and North’s win over West all but guarantees an exciting finish to the season.

Still, expect a little extra motivation from Denmark and South on Friday.

Gainesville is a legitimate region contender

Coaches and players might not admit it, but there must have been some sighs of relief around the county when Milton stayed in Region 5-7A and the rest of Forsyth County moved into Region 6-7A.

Milton, of course, won back-to-back region titles in 2018-19 and won the Class 7A state championship in 2018.

Taking Milton’s place was Gainesville, a team that went 5-6 last year in Class 6A, finishing third in the region and falling in the first round to Allatoona, 49-7.

Of course, true high school football fans will be quick to point out that Gainesville has reached the playoffs every year this century, even winning a state championship in 2012 with Deshaun Watson at the helm.

Gainesville looks tougher each week and has won four of its past five games, with the Red Elephants’ lone blemish coming in a 28-27 non-region loss to Hillgrove.

South largely contained sophomore sensation Naim Cheeks, who carried the ball 22 times but managed only 63 yards during Friday’s 28-14 loss. But versatile quarterback Gionni Williams rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries and added one more score through the air.

The War Eagles were on the wrong end of a couple of bad breaks, as QB Kyle Durham had a touch pass to Gavin Morris intercepted after Xavier Ramsey made an incredible one-handed catch on the turnover. Then, down 28-14 in the fourth quarter, South had a chance to make it a one-score game, but Durham’s pass into the end zone was tipped, juggled and intercepted, inches from a Devin McGlockton touchdown.

Helmet Stickers:

Keegan Stover, West Forsyth: 13-for-22 passing, 229 yards, 3 TDs

TJ Jennings, West Forsyth: 4 catches, 118 yards, 2 TDs

William Orris, West Forsyth: 17 carries, 120 yards; 2 catches, 43 yards, 1 TD

Hudson Posey, West Forsyth: 12 tackles – 7 solo – 4 TFL, 2 sacks, 4 QB hurries

Carson Leak, Forsyth Central: 10 tackles – 5 solo – 2 QB hurries, 1 TFL

Ryan Van Uum, Forsyth Central: 4 tackles – 1 solo – 1 TFL, 2 QB hurries, 1 sack, 1 pass breakup

Devin Hill, Forsyth Central: 4 catches, 62 yards

Robert Riddle, Lambert: 9 carries, 71 yards, 1 TD; 2 catches, 8 yards

Darren Guy, Lambert: 16 tackles – 8 solo – 2 TFL, 1 pass breakup

Tre Drewery, Lambert: 8 tackles – 6 solo – 1 TFL, 1 recovered fumble, 1 pass breakup

Jared Lucero, North Forsyth: 18 carries, 48 yards, 1 TD; 3 catches, 18 yards, 1 TD

Jumel Lewis, North Forsyth: 96-yard kickoff return for TD

Devin McGlockton, South Forsyth: 9 catches, 154 yards, 1 TD; 1 tackle, 1 INT

Alec Stephens, South Forsyth: 12 tackles – 4 solo – 1 TFL