South Forsyth head coach Jeff Arnette is on record more than once this summer offering his diagnosis on the quality of football in Forsyth County.
“It’s my sixth year in Forsyth and the talent has gotten better year after year,” Arnette preaches.
Those projections set quite a proverbial stage for the upcoming season, which begins for the War Eagles Friday at home against Mountain View. South has to replace a 2,000-yard passer from last season in Matthew White. It will look for new faces at nearly every other position on offense.
But nobody will be missed more than last year’s Region 6-AAAAAA offensive player of the year and the Forsyth County News offensive player of the year, Tyler LaFlamme, who’s now a freshman tailback at Auburn. Nobody can forget his 1,763 total yards in his senior season, or, specifically, the 435 rushing yards he had against Chattahoochee—the fifth best rushing total in the history of high school football in Georgia.
Or can they?
Sam Outlaw plans on having some fun in his senior season. He’s moving from fullback, where he paved the way for much of LaFlamme’s long runs last year, to tailback—where he will replace him.
“I’m super excited because it’s going to be a big chance to prove I’ve made the transition from fullback to running back,” Outlaw said. “It’s also going to be a challenge because, obviously, (Tyler) put up some really big stats last year.”
The Outlaw name already has its place in South lore. Joe Outlaw Sr. is the president of the South Forsyth football touchdown club. Joe Outlaw Jr. played wing back and safety for South until 2010 and now coaches the tight ends. Caleb, a sophomore quarterback, is looking up to his middle brother and hoping he can keep the ground game churning along.
Sam lost 25 pounds in the offseason to help with his agility in preparation for dotting the I in the backfield. He plans on mixing power and speed, along with the ability to catch out of the backfield.
Joe Jr. doesn’t give Sam any advice, which is a good thing.
“He looks great. I’ve watched him growing up and he’s definitely a better running back than me,” Joe Jr. said. “Following LaFlamme is big shoes to fill for sure, but that’s not how we’re looking at it. We’re just looking to build on last season’s success.”
Lambert also kicks off its season Friday, and it will do it against one of the top teams in Class AAAAA in Lanier, who was recently ranked No. 9 in the first Georgia Sports Writers Association poll of the year.
The first game of the season will be a special type of challenge for Lambert linebacker Kyle Conner. Conner will be the centerpiece of the Longhorn’s defense—a quarterback, if you will—after the departure of the Forsyth County News defensive player of the year, Adison Schimmelpfennig. It will be an easier year for Lambert’s public address announcer, but on the field, Conner’s involvement is going to be as complex as ever.
“Schim was a very vocal linebacker last year. He was out getting calls from the sidelines, I’d give the check,” Conner said. “I feel more in control of the defense. I kind of saw me and Schim as similar players last year. If you watched on film we would a lot of times move in the same direction, almost as if we were strung together.”
Schim, who led that string on a line, totaled 100 tackles last year. Conner had 57. He hopes that number will go up significantly.
“Schim taught me so much last year and I’m trying to put it into my defense this year,” Conner said.
Conner will also get help from junior Mac Redmond, though while Redmond will play on both sides of the ball, Conner has made a full-time commitment to the defense.
“Kyle has done a great job,” Lambert head coach Louis Daniel said. “He’s a three-year starter who wasn’t on the radar early as a sophomore. He was more of a scout team player. I was coordinator at the time and what was happening was daily we couldn’t block Kyle. We were getting better up front, but Kyle was always involved in the plays. As the season progressed, he wound up starting the second half of the season. He’s going to be great for us.”