WINDER – On paper, both South Forsyth and Winder-Barrow seemed like well-suited opponents.
On the field, South Forsyth told a very different story with their 34-7 win over the Winder-Barrow Bulldoggs in the teams’ scrimmage Friday night.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys. You don’t know until you get them out here,” South head coach Jeff Arnette said. “Two things I saw was that they played real hard and we saw some guys who can make some plays. And our defense played well.”
A slew of running backs carried the ball 123 yards for the War Eagles while starting quarterback Davis Shanley was 6 of 9 for 161 yards through the air with two touchdowns.
Shanley had the task of replacing two-year starter Matt White, who was one of eight players the War Eagles lost on offense to graduation, and he filled the role phenomenally according to head coach Jeff Arnette.
“Shanley started for us and he really came out strong. He made a couple of great throws,” Arnette praised. “He played great. Then (Austin) Harvey came in and he played well, too. I know Shanley started today, but I don’t know what will happen in the long run.”
As difficult a task as it would be for Shanley to step in for White, the job of lead running back is even more open right now simply due to the graduation of Tyler LaFlamme, who is now a walk-on at Auburn University.
Perhaps more impressive: there was no one running back to fill those shoes tonight. Even so, the whole unit did a fantastic job of moving the ball and keeping drives alive.
Tyler Bowman finished as the leading rusher with 37 yards on six carries, but he mostly filled in during the second half with the second unit. Sam Outlaw carried most of the load early on with 23 yards on five carries.
“The thing that helped us tonight…we were having to play Sam Outlaw a lot on defense, so we shared the load at tail back. We had a lot of guys who could do it, and more of those guys can play defense, too,” Arnette said.
South’s defenders spread the tackles around evenly, but the key was five sacks and three interceptions, one by each of Winder-Barrow’s quarterbacks.
Jalen Camp hauled in a pick off of starter Noah Chapman in the first quarter and returned it for 29 yards. Seven plays and 31 yards later, the War Eagles had a 21-0 lead. Ryan Pontrellli and Brice Pearce also had interceptions.
“Our only returning starter on the secondary is out with a concussion, so we have three brand new guys back there,” Arnette said. “They played well. They pleasantly surprised me.”
Shanley helped South Forsyth strike first with a 50-yard touchdown pass to senior Ronnie Chambliss.
The War Eagles then went up 14-0 on a Riley Hall scoop-and-score from the Bulldoggs’ 22-yard line. After an interception, Shanley rolled left and pulled the coverage with him, opening up a wide running lane for a clear 10-yard touchdown trot.
Shanley then hit Chambliss for another long touchdown on a 67-yard reception.
After such a lopsided scrimmage, the two coaches have to approach the game from similar philosophies. After all, the win was just a scrimmage, but it can help build confidence.
“It always helps to play well,” Arnette said. “Our senior class has had back-to-back winning seasons, the first time in South Forsyth history, so they’re confident. That’s huge when you’ve got that much confidence. The way they played tonight is just going to help that.”
South Forsyth opens its regular season next week when they host Mountain View.