When Devin McGlockton lined up at receiver at the start of South Forsyth’s scrimmage against Sequoyah, he was in some new territory.
He wasn’t new to football itself – he had a role on the War Eagles’ offense in 2018, albeit a much smaller one. At 6-foot-4, he’s hard to miss, and South quarterbacks Joe Slott and Kyle Durham made sure to make their receiver feel welcome right away.
Ready to break out
A look at players from Forsyth County football teams who could make a big jump in their contributions this season.
Dylan Fairchild, DL, West Forsyth
Fairchild may have a football offer from South Carolina, but most of his athletic accomplishments thus far have come on the wrestling mat, not the gridiron. He only played in five games in 2018, collecting 12 total tackles over that span. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound junior certainly has the frame to make an impact for the Wolverines this year, and should complement a defense that has some other, more experienced playmakers.
Will Barton, C, North Forsyth
For an offense that’s undergoing as much turnover as North’s is, having any experience is paramount. Barton, a senior, is battling back from an ACL injury and will be the primary leader of the Raiders’ offensive line. Having that kind of experience at the line will be key, with the only other senior on offense being receiver Nicky Dalmolin.
Branden Redecker, LB, Forsyth Central
Redecker will look to have a bigger role on the Bulldogs’ defense after the departure of some key members of last year’s mostly stout unit. He played in all 10 games in 2018, but only came away with 29 total tackles and one tackle for loss. With Redecker figuring to get more playing time, those numbers should only increase.
Brendan Bibb, DL, Lambert
When Bibb was on the field for the Longhorns last year, he was very effective: In four games, he totaled 21 total tackles (20 of them solo), two sacks and four tackles for loss. A torn ACL ended his junior season early, though, but now fully healthy, Bibb will figure to be a leader on a Lambert defense that’s lost some key pieces to graduation.
Marcus McFarlane, RB, Denmark
With Virginia Tech commit Jordan Brunson having firm command over the starting running back spot, it remains to be seen just how much playing time McFarlane will get as a sophomore. Still, head coach Terry Crowder was very pleased with McFarlane’s potential after the Danes’ second scrimmage against Pickens, as he ran for two touchdowns in that game.
Bryce Balthaser, QB, Pinecrest
Pinecrest will be all-new on offense, and that starts with Balthaser, who has only played on the Paladins’ JV team to this point. As a junior, his decisions will play a major part in where the young Paladins go this year.
McGlockton couldn’t quite corral the first pass directed his way, but on his second attempt, McGlockton showed just why South had him lining up outside: He sprinted down the field and leaped high up and over a Chiefs defender to make an acrobatic catch that turned into a long touchdown, his first of two on the night.
“I felt good,” he said. “I feel like I can keep it up and if I feel like if I can play consistent, that'd be awesome.”
McGlockton’s scrimmage performance could be a sign of things to come for South, which boasts perhaps the deepest receiving corps in the county this season. After McGlockton’s busy offseason and with his history in another sport, he has a chance to be one of the county’s breakout players by season’s end.
“The big thing is, he's just gotten a lot bigger and stronger,” South head coach Jeff Arnette said. “He's doing great going up to get the ball at its high point. He's really taken on a role of being a playmaker for us. He's just playing well right now.”
Last season, McGlockton’s primary focus was the basketball team, where he was a key starter in the post for the War Eagles. On the football team, he lined up at tight end, but was mostly relegated to being a blocker with his big frame. In the months leading up to this season, though, he’s worked primarily on getting quicker, which ultimately helped South’s coaches decide on giving him a much more influential role in their attack.
“He's had a great offseason,” Arnette said. “He's worked out hard. I think the basketball skills help him too -- going up and high-pointing the ball is a lot like rebounding the basketball, and we know he's great at that. I think he's really got the knack of going up to get it in football now. I think this year, that's really, really grown for him. I think he's going to play a much, much bigger role this year in our offense than he has.”
And for the rest of South’s offense, McGlockton’s influence could be far-reaching. Whether it ends up being Slott or Durham, the War Eagles will have a new starting quarterback this year, and teams focusing on South’s big target could open up the passing game for other, more experienced and shiftier receivers like Colby Cruz or Cameron Schurr.
“I think anytime you've got the receivers we've got, they're going to help your quarterbacks,” Arnette said. “He's got 10 or 11 guys chasing him all the time -- he's not going to be able to put it exactly perfect every time, and when you have receivers like we do including Devin, they're going to make the quarterback's life better.”
Still, McGlockton feels like there are some things he needs to continue to work on. If he continues to hone the kinds of skills he needs, South feels like their chances of extending the county’s longest active playoff streak could see a huge boost.
“My speed has gotten better and I've improved a lot, but I still need to get faster,” McGlockton said. “I feel like more pressure is on me, but I feel like I can push through and just play my best.”