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Football: South Forsyth reloads on offense, led by quarterback Ty Watkins
South Forsyth defensive end Ben Harvey, left, hopes to terrorize opposing quarterbacks, while offensive lineman Mason Cooper plans to keep his quarterback upright. - photo by Jacob Smith

2021 Football Schedule

Aug. 20 – South Forsyth at Roswell

Aug. 27 – Cambridge at South Forsyth

Sept. 3 – Dawson County at South Forsyth

Sept. 10 – South Forsyth at Central Gwinnett

Sept. 16 – South Forsyth at Lambert

Sept. 23 – BYE

Oct. 1 – BYE

Oct. 8 – West Forsyth at South Forsyth

Oct. 15 – South Forsyth at Gainesville

Oct. 22 – Denmark at South Forsyth

Oct. 29 – North Forsyth at South Forsyth

Nov. 5 – South Forsyth at Forsyth Central

The keys to the South Forsyth offense belong to Ty Watkins.

For first-year head coach Troy Morris, there aren’t many more deserving than Watkins, the War Eagles’ 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior.

“I’ll tell you what, Ty has impressed me ever since he stepped on our campus,” Morris said. “He is the ultimate leader. He really is. I’ve coached for a lot of years now and I’ve never coached a kid that’s hungrier to be successful and to be good. Just how he goes about his business, how intent he is; every single day he’s getting better. He’ll stare a hole through me when I’m coaching him, just because he wants to soak it up so much. I get texts from him after practice, you know, ‘Coach, how did it go today? Give me more information.’ He’s just a hungry kid.”

Watkins completed 12 of 18 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns playing behind Kyle Durham, who since transferred to Johns Creek.

2020 Results

5-4 Overall, 2-3 Region 6-7A

South Forsyth 63, Dawson County 49

South Forsyth 52, Central Gwinnett 27

South Forsyth 44, Lambert 14

South Forsyth 30, Alcovy 10

West Forsyth 41, South Forsyth 34 (2OT)

Gainesville 28, South Forsyth 14

Denmark 36, South Forsyth 22

South Forsyth 52, North Forsyth 7

Norcross 47, South Forsyth 20

The War Eagles must also replace their two leading rushers from last season [Durham and Tre Green], as well as their top two receivers [Mitch Thompson, Devin McGlockton].

South does return senior Gavin Morris, who Troy Morris expects to be even more involved in the offense than last season, when he caught 26 passes for 488 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 129 yards and three touchdowns.

“We’ll still use him on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Offensively, he’s probably going to get more reps than he has in the past. Then, defensively, we actually moved him out of the position he was in last two years and moved him back to safety. We’ll see how he does back there.”

However, Morris will need more than one player to step up to replace Thompson and McGlockton, who combined for more than 1,600 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Trophy Case 

First varsity season: 1991 

Playoff appearances: 16 (1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020) 

Region titles: 3 (1997, 2015, 2017) 

State titles:

Senior Mason Capers is one candidate to help fill the void after moving to tight end during the offseason.

Capers, 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, already has offers from Charleston Southern and Davidson.

“We’ve asked Mason to move to the tight end spot for a lot of different reasons. He’s excited about it,” Morris said. “He’s actually put on weight to play that spot.”

As for production out of the wide receiver position, South has plenty of speed between Chris Nelson and Josh Nelson. Chris Nelson won the Class 7A 200m state championship in the spring.

“Never. You're never going to see those [guys]. Don't prepare for them. Don't even expect them,” Morris said with a laugh. “No, they're going to touch it a lot. They're going to get a lot of opportunities in the offense. Chris [Nelson] and Josh [Nelson] both are great kids. Yeah, they're really, really fast and they're great track athletes, but I tell people all the time they're football players that run track, in my opinion. They're really good football players. They're exciting, they're electric and we're going to do everything we can to get them involved in as many different ways as we can."

Alex Urias should also see time at the position after catching eight passes for 112 yards and a touchdown last season.

On the offensive line, South must replace one of the county’s top tackles in Ethan Patrick, as well as Braden Beecher, Bradley Hutcheson and Bryce Myers. Still, Mason Cooper returns at left tackle and Ian O’Dowd is a returning starter at guard.

O’Down, who also lines up on the defensive line, is one of several players who will see action on both sides of the ball.

Ben Harvey led the War Eagles with six sacks and seven QB hurries last year is also listed as a tight end.

Perhaps the brightest spot on South’s defensive line is junior Nathan Efobi, a 6-foot-4, 290-pound lineman who picked up offers from UGA and Georgia Tech since the end of last season.

“A lot of guys at the next level, they’re asking what he projects as,” Morris said. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m not sure yet. I think he’s 15, about to turn 16 here in a little while, which is crazy because he’s 6-foot-4, 290. He can move, and he’s a great kid on top of that. I mean, just works so hard. Whenever I tell them those things, you know, what kind of person he is besides just how big he is and how good he is, that’s one of the things they get excited about.”

Leading tackler Julian Bolanos graduated, as did fellow linebacker Alec Stephens, but seniors Cal Jacchia and Ian Diaz look to fill the gaps. Morris said juniors Cole Williams and Conner Futch, and sophomore Maverick Shippman, will also see playing time at linebacker.

South’s influx of linebackers is one of the reasons Morris decided to move Gavin Morris to safety, where he will patrol the defensive backfield alongside the likes of returning starters Austin Uidel, Chris Nelson and Josh Nelson.