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Seasoned South Forsyth football ready to make playoff run
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South Forsyth rising senior Sam Walker was one of the War Eagles’ biggest playmakers on offense and defense last season. - photo by Photo by Jerod Ray For the Forsyth County News

South Forsyth at a glance

2012 record: 4-6, 1-6 Region 6-AAAAAA

Returning starters: 8 offense, 8 defense

Key losses: QB Jantzen Jeffrey, RB/DB Eddie Mirynowski, OL/DL Michael Scullin, LB Mickey Thomas, OL/DL Sterling Abney, DB Jordan Arnette, K Brandon McKee.

Key returners: ATH Sam Walker, RB/LB Isaiah Williams, OL/DL Kyle Watford, RB/LB Brett Larkin, RB/DB Matt Cira, LS/OL Davis Winkie.

Key newcomers: TE/LB Kyle Soles, OL/DL Griffin Landrum, K Alex Barbir.

Coach Jeff Arnette says: "We’ve gained a lot of strength and quickness. Those were things we really needed and you always want to do, but I think for us it’s just [fixing] mental mistakes."

Jeff Arnette knows expectations are high entering his fourth year as South Forsyth’s head football coach.

After starting the season 3-0, the War Eagles dropped their next six games before defeating rival North Forsyth to end the season with a 4-6 record in Class 6A Region 6-AAAAAA. However, with eight returning starters on offense and defense, including do-it-all rising senior athletes Sam Walker and Isaiah Williams, Arnette thinks his squad might surprise some teams in the fall.

"We’ve got a lot of experience back," Arnette said. "…This will be my first class that [has been] with me the whole time, so they know me and I know them and I’ve been able to have them in the weight room three years and hopefully all of those factors will pay off into a good football season."

One of the top priorities for the South coaching staff is finding a replacement for former quarterback Jantzen Jeffrey, who tallied 820 rushing yards for 16 touchdowns and added 1,515 passing yards last season.

Arnette has yet to find Jeffrey’s successor, but said rising junior Matt White, rising senior Nick Shepherd and rising sophomore Austin Harvey are all in the running to take the starting job.

"We don’t know yet," Arnette said. "Those are big shoes to fill. …We got three guys battling for it, so we’ll see what happens. We just got back this week from summer and we don’t have a [core yet].

"You would like someone to step up and take [the job], but it’s so early, so I don’t know what’s going to happen. If two are neck-and-neck, I don’t know what I’d do. I’d have to wait until we got there."

Whoever wins the quarterback position might dictate which offense Arnette will run. The War Eagles ran the triple option last season, but that is subject to change.

"We don’t know," Arnette said. "We’re just going to have to see what our quarterbacks [can do]. We’re going to run what’s suitable for our personnel and we don’t know yet."

Regardless of what offense is run, Walker and Williams will both play pivotal roles, as they were named to the 2012 All-County First Team. Walker wasn’t limited to just one position on offense and boasted 30 catches for 422 yards and racked up 40 carries for 206 yards on the ground, while Williams added a bruising 809 yards on 134 carries for nine touchdowns.

"[Walker] has gotten stronger and he’s gotten faster and he’s become a true leader," Arnette said. "If we’re going to be successful, he’s got to have a big year for us. Whatever or wherever we need him, we’ll put him. It’s one of those deals when you have a player like him, you got to put him where he can help the team win, and that can change in any given week."