South Forsyth celebrated its 26 seniors the right way.
The War Eagles defeated North Forsyth 28-10, after leading 28-0 in the third quarter.
After suffering their first region loss last week to Denmark, South head coach Troy Morris felt his team responded well.
“I thought our kids came out and played very well,” Morris said. “They’re a very well-coached team. We knew they were going to be a challenge. I thought our defense played really well. The offense tonight, I thought they played great. A lot cleaner than last week. I was so proud of how our kids bounced back, and I thought everybody played really good tonight.”
One of the players who bounced back was Ty Watkins. He finished 13 of 18 for 151 passing yards and three touchdowns. He also ran six times for 51 yards and a score.
“He was upset with himself last week,” Morris said. “He was so determined to come out here and play well, and he did. He really shined tonight. I thought he made great decisions. He ran the ball well, threw the ball great. He just played extremely well. Proud of him. He’s just a leader, man. He’s a fighter and a leader, and I’m just glad he’s on our football team.”
One of the more impressive plays Watkins made was on fourth down late in the game. He showed excellent footwork while looking to pass downfield, evading multiple sacks before scrambling for a first down, allowing his team to run out the clock.
Watkins credited the entire team for the victory and knows that they’ll be ready to play next week at Central.
“Same thing it’s been all year: Win,” Watkins said. “Just play hard and win. That’s it. We’ll take care of what we can take care of. If West wins, then they win. If not, we’ll stay second place and play a home playoff game, which is awesome.”
Austin Uidel, Mason Capers, and Chris Nelson were the recipients of Watkins’ touchdown passes.
With the win, South moves to 4-1 in region play, while North falls to 2-3. The result of the Denmark/West game next week will have big playoff implications across the region. If West wins, South will clinch the region championship, and North will be eliminated from the playoffs. If Denmark wins, and North beats Gainesville, North, West, and Lambert will be tied at 3-3.
But that isn’t something that Morris and his team are worrying about.
“I told the kids we’re going to control what we can control and that was playing North tonight,” Morris said. “The way I understand it, I believe we got a home-field game of some sort. We've got to go play Central. They always play us really, really hard, especially at their place. We’re going to enjoy it tonight, but then we've got to refocus and control what we can control, and that is playing Central next week. That’s all we’re going to focus on.”
During the third quarter, West Roberts checked into the game and took over quarterback duties for North. He finished with 103 passing yards and a touchdown.
North head coach Robert Craft was pleased with Roberts’ performance.
“West is a junior, and he’s played a lot as far as practicing and preparing,” Craft said. “I thought he did a great job. I thought he commanded the offense. He’s had some snaps already this year. I thought he did a really nice job.”
Logan Curry and Aiden Ruckh were the main targets for both Roberts and Drew Aucoin. Curry finished with eight catches for 66 yards and a touchdown, and Ruckh had 6 catches for 76 yards.
With the loss, North’s playoff hopes are dwindling but not gone. It’ll take a few things going the Raiders' way, but they seem to be taking the same approach that South is: Control what you can control.
“Our guys are confident, ready,” Craft said. “We know region games are always going to be tight and close like this. I felt like tonight we played really good at times. We just didn’t finish plays, whether it was a tackle or just executing offensively on some stuff. We’ll be good to go. We’ve got a great senior class here, I know they’re going to get us ready to go.”
North will finish its regular season next week against Gainesville in Raider Valley.
South’s seniors aren’t satisfied with the win on senior night. Still, Morris has a deeper connection with this group than most coaches do, which made the win extra special.
“Since my son is in this group, I’ve seen these guys play since they were in kindergarten, first grade,” Morris said. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of them and just the character that they have and how they like each other and the chemistry and the bonds. It’s just a great, great, special, special group, and I’m just blessed that they’re the senior group that I get to start out my head coaching career here with.”