High school sports in Forsyth County are not for the faint of heart. Turn away if you cannot handle games of pure tension or inexplicable feats.
The 2014-15 season was full of such games, where the crowds were raucous and the competition thrilling.
So full that, for the second year, the Forsyth County News sports staff has ranked our favorite 10 games of the past school year.
Many were eligible, but only these 10 made the final cut, starting with Nos. 6-10.
Check back Sunday for Nos. 1-5.
On March 11 North Forsyth was the second team in the early goings of the season to upset Lambert and push it farther off its perch as the defending “national champion.” So when the Longhorns, now firing on all cylinders, hosted the Raiders on April 2 they hoped to serve the dish back to North.
The rematch almost ended on the same note, with North leading 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh before Jeremy Johnson clobbered a curling triple to deep left-center, bringing home Nick Guimbarda for the tying run.
Johnson then ended the game in the weirdest of ways—when J.D. Dutka’s swinging third strike got lost in the dirt, allowing Johnson to sneak to home plate before the catcher knew what hit him. It was a highlight moment for Johnson’s senior season, and the more big plays he made, the more leverage he had to keep the Little Einsteins walk-up music.
On the season, high school football county rivalries didn’t produce much drama. South and West handled a young North team with ease. Lambert ended the season with a surprising blowout of South. Forsyth Central was left out of the county rivalry series, save for a scrimmage against North. But the one county game that did produce drama produced a load of it.
Not that there was a lack of hype when Lambert travelled to West on Oct. 24. The prospect of Longhorns running back Trevor O’Brien facing his old team was intriguing enough. Then there was the Region 6-AAAAAA playoff picture; both teams were 4-3.
Then a back-and-forth ensued: Lambert led by 10 at half, West took a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter. West opted to take a safety on a punt in its own end zone with less than four minutes left, giving Lambert the ball at midfield and down just two.
And so it ended in the most theatrical of ways: O’Brien, facing his old team, carrying the ball on all eight plays of Lambert’s game-winning drive, the final one a 7-yard run with 22 seconds left to give Lambert a 33-27 victory.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because the North-Chattahoochee match to decide the Area 6-AAAAAA duals championship came in at No. 6 on our list a year ago. Really, the way it’s been going recently, expect a North-Chattahoochee match to make these lists for the foreseeable future. That’s just the way they seem to go.
This one, like last season’s, came down to the final match. North had built a 27-14 lead with five matches left. Then Chattahoochee stormed back, winning three straight to cut North’s lead to one point.
Each of the final matches to decide the area title had their own dramatic moments. For Zach Smith at 220 pounds, it was a two-point takedown with less than five seconds remaining for an 8-6 win. For Jackson Bardall at 285, it was a conservative match in a 4-2 loss in which he succeeded by not allowing a pin or major decision.
North survived with a 30-29 win for its fourth straight area duals championship.
The Lady War Eagles were back in the state playoffs coming off a historic season in which they became the first county team in history to reach the state semifinals. But this season was different: South had graduated eight seniors, and its first round opponent was a strong Lassiter team the Lady War Eagles had edged 25-18, 26-24 just a month before.
Lassiter won the first game 25-23. It won the second, 25-22. Just like that, South was on the brink of elimination.
The Lady War Eagles regrouped, though, winning the final three sets to survive the first round and move on in the Class AAAAAA tournament thanks in part to the hitting of Amanda Nugent (15 kills) and defense of Erin Yeatman (35 digs).
A year ago, it was North-South in the girls basketball Region 6-AAAAAA championship, and it produced 32 minutes of such tense basketball that North’s 48-45 victory came in as the No. 3 game of the year. The hope of all hopes was for a rematch, and, justly, we got it.
Again, the game was a remarkable combination of rowdiness, quality play and competitiveness. North seemed in control during a first half in which it never trailed. South looked like it would take the game going away as it built a six-point lead in the fourth quarter.
But, of course, it wouldn’t be that simple. Two tight regular season meetings had taught observers better than that.
North’s Lochlain Corliss hit two 3s. Sydney Pefanis made a driving bank shot to tie that game with 2:02. And it wasn’t until South star Sarah Myers hit two free throws with 10.6 seconds left that the Lady War Eagles could feel sure they had gotten revenge against the Lady Raiders.