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Football: Early mistakes doom West in shutout loss to Milton
West Forsyth running back Stephon Bland is taken down during the Wolverines' region opener against Milton on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018.

By Patricia Duffy

For the Forsyth County News

From afar, West Forsyth High School’s fifth loss could be attributed to Milton High School’s star quarterback and depth on offense. But it was early mistakes by the Wolverines (1-5, 0-1) that the Eagles (4-2, 1-0) simply capitalized off of that led to the 41-0 shutout.

In fact, Milton’s talented quarterback, Georgia Tech commit Jordan Yates, barely saw the field during the first quarter. Rather, the Eagles’ defense and special teams put the team up by 13 points only seven minutes into the contest.

“They’re too good of a team for us to give them two touchdowns, let the air go out of us and let them jump on us the way they did in that first half,” West head coach Shawn Cahill said.

Milton received the ball to start the game. It drove down the field and entered the red zone before fumbling. West recovered and, despite starting on its own 15-yard line, the Wolverines were in a good position to pull the momentum their way.

Sophomore quarterback Drew Southern, in the first official start of his career after Blake Whitfield went down with a broken collarbone, fumbled and lost the ball just as quick as West had recovered it. This time, the Eagles’ middle linebacker Jordan Davis capitalized, scrambling 51 yards for the score. 

Just like that, West’s offense was back on the field for its second straight drive with just one play’s worth of rest. Southern and star running back Stephon Bland both tried to gain yards from the Wolverine’s starting position at the 37-yard line, but Milton’s stout defensive line gave them nowhere to go, and on the ensuing punt, the Eagles’ tag team of Jack Rhodes and Jeremy Olagoke blocked and recovered the ball in the end zone to put Milton up 13-0 with 4:48 left in the first quarter.

“I thought they had a great week of practice. I thought they were ready to play,” Cahill said. “We got a couple first downs, moved the ball a little bit, and then had a bad thing happen, and then the blocked punt. You could just feel the air kind of go out a little bit, and we just never got it back.”

What Milton’s defense and special teams started, its offense finished. Yates took the 13-point head start and tacked on 28 more points with some help from his wide receivers, showing why he’s one of the top dual-threat prospects in the class of 2019. He finished 14-of-20 for 156 yards and two touchdowns through the air and carried for 10-for-56 for two touchdowns on the ground.

It was a rough night for the Wolverines’ overall, offensively, but the fresh faced Southern showed some improvement by the end of the night. After going 2-of-7 for 16 yards in the first half, Southern came back to complete 8 of his final 14 pass attempts with 98 total passing yards on the night.

“I just kept fighting–didn’t really give up,” Southern said. “I wanted to let my team know that I would just keep fighting for them.”

Despite dropping their fifth game overall and first region game of the season, the Wolverines were optimistic at the end of the game, telling their coach, “we’re going to get it fixed.” Cahill believes in his team, but also knows they have a lot to improve if they want to be competitive in this tough stretch of region games.

“I think we’re still a pretty good football team, but we can’t make the mistakes,” Cahill said. “We can’t get frustrated when adversity hits us. We’ve got to learn to fight through those things, to fight for 48 minutes and not put our heads down.”