By Brian Paglia
The moments South Forsyth defensive end Cameron Kline will remember most about his senior season aren’t the array of incredible plays he made – the five sacks against Centennial, four against Chattahoochee, two the night he won Homecoming King – but the moments after the plays, when he would look at the sideline and see his teammates rushing toward him or gaze up at the stands and see a whole community erupting in elation.
Two moments in particular: First, the game against Lambert on Nov. 6. Down 17-0 entering the second half, Lambert faced fourth-down inside its own red zone, but Kline helped stuff the Longhorns for a loss.
“Everybody just goes crazy,” Kline said. “I remember looking up and the crowd was just incredible.”
Second, the game against Norcross in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs. Down 14-12 in the fourth quarter, Kline snagged a fumble and returned it 32 yards for the eventual game-winning touchdown.
“I remember just looking up at the crowd, and every single person was jumping up and down,” Kline said, “and all my teammates were sprinting over to me. It was just incredible.”
Indeed, they loved Kline at South this season, one in which he was a captain and dominant figure on defense for a South team that ascended into rare territory for the program, going a school-best 11-2, winning the Region 6-AAAAAA championship and reaching the quarterfinals of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs.
Kline made 50 tackles, 15 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and scored two defensive touchdowns to be named the 2015 Forsyth County News Defensive Player of the Year. On Wednesday, he verbally committed to play at Harvard.
Question: How would you describe this season?
Kline: “It was nothing short of incredible. I couldn’t have asked for a better season for my senior year. It was fun playing with those guys for the last time together, breaking so many records and having so much fun. It was really something I’ll never forget.”
Q: How possible did everything you guys accomplished seem before the season began?
Kline: “It was always something I had talked to myself about. I was like, ‘I’d really like to win a region championship,’ but we all talked about that. ‘I really want to go to the quarterfinals like West Forsyth did a couple years ago. I always thought, I think we can do it. It was funny – we beat Lambert, then we beat Norcross, then we’re playing Tucker about to play the No. 2 team in the country. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Q: How about the season you had?
Kline: “My coaches set me up to succeed really well. They put me in a position that I could make a bunch of plays on defense, and offense as well. They put me in a new position this year where I stood up a lot more. It freed me up to do a lot more and beat guys one on one and get to the quarterback.”
Q: You said your favorite memories of this season are looking at your teammates or in the stands after big plays, but you had incredible individual performances too. How do those rank for you this season?
Kline: “The five-sack game against Centennial was definitely something I’ll never forget. I remember looking at my dad in the stands. He was counting. He kept putting another finger up. And I was like, ‘Oh gosh, I didn’t realize I was up there that high.’ We won those games, but it didn’t compare to winning the region championship or going on to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 10 years or something like that.”
Q: What kind of legacy do you hope this team left at South?
Kline: “As senior, I would hope that we set a standard for not only South Forsyth but the whole county, that this county can compete with the big teams. We played four of the last seven state champions in the first three rounds. I hope we set a standard, and I hope we left a legacy that these guys will do what we did and even get better.”
Q: What about your legacy; what do you hope people at South and in Forsyth County remember about your high school career?
Kline: “I hope people remember that I gave everything I had every single play, and I was always there for my teammates, doing what I needed to do for us to win.”