Forsyth County high school football teams went a combined 0-6 in the state playoffs during my first two years as sports editor of the Forsyth County News. I wondered what I had walked into. Had I cursed the county’s postseason success in the state’s signature sport?
Then came 2015 with a deep state playoff run by South Forsyth and first-round win by Pinecrest Academy, and I breathed a sigh of relief. The next year was less fortunate, but Lambert and Pinecrest won first-round games. It wasn’t me after all.
But here we are on the day of the second round of the GHSA state playoffs, and Forsyth teams are absent again. Every county team’s football season is complete. And the thought emerges: is it me again?
Regardless, instead of watching Forsyth football teams in the state playoffs, we can take stock of what went right and wrong this past season:
What went right: Central found some playmakers on defense, like junior linebacker Jackson Leak (112 tackles) and Mitchell Weber (12 tackles for loss), and showed impressive effort all season even as the losses mounted.
What went wrong: To say the Bulldogs’ record could’ve been as good as 6-4 isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds; Central was in position to win each of its first five games. Instead, they finished winless for the first time since 1973.
What went right: Marcus Chatelain became one of the county’s top offensive players this season, rushing for 1,283 yards and 14 touchdowns. And the Longhorns got a good look at sophomore quarterback Peyton Rich in the final four games, who completed 57 percent of his passes for 750 yards.
What went wrong: The Longhorns couldn’t defend their region title and broke a streak of four-straight seasons reaching the state playoffs. Losing their first two region games to South and North put the Longhorns in too great a hole to recover.
What went right: The Raiders reached the state playoffs for the first time since 2013 thanks in part to an offense that scored the third-most points (308) in program history. Quarterback Ben Bales and running back Bryson Trigg set multiple single-season and career school records.
What went wrong: North struggled against tougher competition. By season’s end, none of the Raiders’ five wins came against a team with a winning record. All six of their losses came against teams that went a combined 48-18 and reached the state playoffs.
What went right: The Paladins showed some good signs in their last two games, particularly on offense. Sophomore quarterback Ryan DiFazio got useful experience after he took over the starting role toward the end of the season.
What went wrong: Pinecrest struggled to stop opposing offenses and allowed a Region 6-1A-worst 355 points.
What went right: Plenty – the overtime win against Roswell in the Corky Kell Classic, the top-5 ranking, the region championship, the undefeated (technically) regular season. Through 10 games, it was arguably the most successful season for South football.
What went wrong: The playoff game. South was a top 10-ranked team in great position to make a deep state playoff run playing at home against a No. 4 seed, but the War Eagles lost 31-13 to Mountain View. Granted, the Bears and Georgia Tech-committed wide receiver Malachi Carter were arguably the strongest No. 4 seed in the Class 7A state playoffs.
What went right: Head coach Shawn Cahill admirably navigated his first year in charge with the Wolverines and got them back to the state playoffs for the third straight season and seventh in the past eight. Ending a four-game losing streak to rival Lambert was nice, too.
What went wrong: West scored the second-fewest points (249) in program history, and its offense took too long to find a rhythm in losses to Milton and South in the regular season and Mill Creek in the state playoffs. Another offseason to should help remedy that next year.
Brian Paglia is sports editor at the Forsyth County News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 770-205-8976 or follow him on Twitter at @BrianPaglia.