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Football: West easily dispatches Newton in first round of playoffs
west forsyth abe camara newton
West Forsyth's Abe Camara celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the Wolverines' game against Newton on Nov. 9, 2018 at West Forsyth High School. - photo by Ben Hendren

West Forsyth’s football team has had quite a bit to celebrate over the last few weeks, not having experienced defeat in over a month.

Typically, their postgame celebrations are kept behind closed doors, in the locker room. But after the Wolverines dominated Newton 35-3 in West’s first playoff win since 2012 on Friday night, the student body rushed the field and mobbed the players before they could even head up the stadium steps. Head coach Shawn Cahill decided to just let it ride.

“I was like, ‘Just let them all have fun,’” Cahill said. “Our students were taking a knee here with all our kids and I was like, ‘This is kind of cool.’”

West’s first home playoff game in six years didn’t quite start as planned, though. On the game’s first play from scrimmage, West quarterback Drew Southern scrambled to his left and lost the football, with Newton recovering at the Wolverine 25. Despite the short field, West’s defense made a much-needed stop, limiting the Rams to a 23-yard chip shot field goal after halting the drive at their own 3.

“After that, our kids kind of settled down,” Cahill said. “Our defense adjusted to their speed because they had some fast kids. Our offensive line just took over there in the first half. We were kind of really able to do what we wanted to.”

West only took four plays to go 60 yards on their second possession, with running back Saxby Waxer being responsible for all of that yardage. He finished off the drive with a 21-yard touchdown run, giving West its first lead at 7-3 with 7:26 left in the first quarter. Waxer rushed for 104 yards in the first half alone, and finished the game with 141 yards on 25 carries.

“He’s stepped up since we moved him back there,” Cahill said. “He’s running different – he’s running with his pads down. He’s running with some power, he’s getting some speed. The offensive line gave him some seams to (go) through. He just does it after that.”

With 11:12 left to the half, Southern dumped off a screen pass to Stephon Bland, who followed his convoy of blockers and broke a tackle down the sideline for a 41-yard touchdown. That put the Wolverines up 14-3, and just two minutes later, Southern found Abe Camara for his first passing touchdown of the night from 17 yards out, extending the lead to 18 points.

With 1:21 left in the second quarter, Camara put the Wolverines firmly in the driver’s seat, catching a 48-yard bomb from Southern for another score to make it 28-3. Camara saw plenty of action as Southern’s favorite target, hauling in six passes for 117 yards.

“That was the mindset, just getting a fast start,” Camara said. “We saw early how they wanted to play. Obviously they did a little research on film, so we decided to abuse it with hitches, and it worked out for the best.”

Waxer found the end zone for the second time with 4:50 left in the third quarter before the running clock started in the fourth quarter. Southern ended his night 8-of-11 with 165 yards passing, three touchdown passes and one interception.

The Wolverines will travel to face North Gwinnett in the second round next week. As he has all year, Cahill stressed to his players this week about the readiness their tough non-region schedule gave them.

“We’re one of 16 teams left,” Cahill said. “If we go out there and make some plays, anything can happen right now. The first round is the hardest one to get out of. You face better teams as you move on, but you need to get some confidence and get some things to happen. We told our kids we’re proud and we deserve to be (here).”