The North Forsyth Middle School Wildcats capped off a perfect season and back-to-back championships with a 28-0 victory over Riverwatch Middle School in the county championship game Tuesday night at South Forsyth High School.
North (10-0) bullied Riverwatch (7-3) in the trenches behind their star running back Nicky Dalmolin. Dalmolin finished the night with 69 yards on 11 carries, including a 13-yard scamper on the first drive of the game to put North in the redzone. The Wildcats converted that drive into six points on a two-yard rush from Heath Slaton.
North shut down a Riverwatch team coming off an upset win against Vickery Creek in which the Panthers passed for 242 yards and three touchdowns. North held Riverwatch to zero passing yards and just 129 yards on the ground.
North head coach Ty Carnes expected a high-powered offense, and he was forced to instill a new gameplan.
“We had to put in an extra practice this week because they ran a spread offense and we hadn’t seen anything like that this year,” Carnes said.
“We just went up against the better team,” Riverwatch head coach Jeff Brumbelow. “They were a better team all year. They out-manned us.”
The Wildcat’s man-to-man coverage on passing plays forced a turnover in the second quarter, intercepting quarterback Peyton Rich. On the next play, North threw an interception right back to the Panthers.
After an 8-yard punt from Riverwatch, the Wildcats needed just five plays to drive the ball in from the Riverwatch 20-yard line on a quarterback keeper by Noah Gilbert and take a 14-0 lead. Gilbert was effective through the air and on the ground, accounting for two two-point conversions, two total touchdowns and 49 total yards.
The dagger came later in the third quarter when North took the ball 56 yards on eight plays, capping it off with a 1-yard dive from running back Klay McBrayor to make it 20-0 entering the fourth quarter. McBrayor would finish the game with 52 yards on 12 carries.
Despite the one-sided game, Brumbelow was not discouraged by the loss.
“I’m super proud of our kids, of our coaches,” Brumbelow said. “We started the season out 1-2, and we just kept going back to work and getting better and better. We are so proud of where the kids came.”
On the other side of the field, Carnes also praised his team on its undefeated season.
“This is a special group,” Carnes said. “They are fighters, they’re hard-workers, come into practice every day to learn the game of football. They make each other better.”
Carnes and his team have a lot to celebrate. They have lost one game in two seasons, have taken home two championships and ended the year undefeated. It has been quite the run for North.
“Our players came out here and really shut them down tonight, and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” he said.