By Steven Watkins
For the Forsyth County News
As so often is the case in a great number of football games, the final scores—particularly the lopsided ones—fail to accurately and completely depict the stories of the teams involved, not to mention the seasons they’ve had.
As the final seconds of South Forsyth’s Friday night home opener ticked away and the War Eagle victory formation sat ready to put the finishing touches on a 36-14 win over visiting Etowah, two things were readily apparent.
One was that despite significant roster turnover in the year following the most successful season in program history, South has once again fielded a squad evidently capable of contending with nearly any opponent they might face.
A week after a disappointing showing at reigning 4-A champ Blessed Trinity that ultimately was closer than the 35-6 score indicated, the War Eagles rebounded from what had only been their second double-digit loss in the past three seasons by routing their second opponent of the first three games.
Stellar performances by the defense, senior running back Daryn Rogers and quarterback Drew Morris carried the War Eagles through a less-than-perfect, yet ultimately comfortable second win.
The other takeaway was encapsulated when a brief pause in both South’s victory formation and the final ticking seconds occurred thanks to yet another War Eagle false start penalty: As it is, South Forsyth’s football program is not yet a finished product.
“We’re still trying to come into our own, to be honest with you,” Head Coach Jeff Arnette said. “The effort tonight (and) the enthusiasm were incredible, but as hard as we play, we’ve got to continue to chip away at the mistakes, because we had them tonight. We probably kept them in longer than we should have.”
The negatives were scattered but undeniable.
Immediately following the game’s first score, Etowah returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards to keep the game tied at seven late in the first.
Similarly, Etowah running back Kilvert Many took a handoff on the second half’s first play from scrimmage, made one cut and sprinted 70 yards to cut the War Eagle lead to 11.
Including the final snap of the game, South finished the night with eight penalties for a total of 65 yards, and many of what looked to be promising plays were cut short thanks to dropped passes, missed assignments or growing pains of some form by a young roster.
The positives, however, were plentiful.
With starter Jordan Brunson missing most of the game with a sore ankle, Rogers rushed 15 times for 81 tough yards and two touchdowns while also bringing in seven passes.
Lining up at both fullback and halfback at varying points throughout the game, Rogers averaged well over five yards per carry and represented the bulk of the War Eagle running game.
“I do whatever the coaches tell me,” Rogers said. “When I get the ball, though, I’ve got to show out.”
Under center, Morris had what easily was his best game of the season thus far, going 12 of 19 for 167 yards with two touchdowns, while adding 68 yards on 11 rushes.
Easily his best play of the game occurred on a second-and-14 late in the third quarter.
Evading pressure and scrambling to his right, Morris threw a perfect ball on the run, hitting an open Cameron Schurr in stride for a 42-yard score.
The week after surrendering 35 points to Blessed Trinity’s offense, the War Eagle defense put forth their best effort of the season, giving up a mere 149 yards of total offense, with 70 of them coming on the lone touchdown run.
“We’ve got a lot of young players and a lot of young guys still out there learning what it’s like to play varsity games, but I tell you what: It sure is fun to watch them play,” Arnette said. “They play hard in every phase of the game, and it sure is fun to coach.”