In the first game of his tenure at West Forsyth High School, coach Shawn Cahill got an idea of what his team is capable of.
“Over the past four and a half months, I’ve gotten to know these kids as people, but I didn’t know them as football players,” Cahill said. “What I got to see (Friday) was a bunch of kids that will compete.”
He wanted to show his new fanbase he can make the big calls. It came midway through the second quarter of Friday’s 31-14 victory over Woodstock, where junior Stephon Bland took a fake punt near midfield in to the opposing Wolverine Territory. Three plays later, senior quarterback Zach Burns found Blake Snee for a 35-yard touchdown pass for a 17-7 lead.
Cahill, taking over the Wolverine program after serving as Lanier High School’s offensive coordinator a year ago, helped guide West (1-0) to 414 yards of total offense. It was led by Burns’ 14-for-21 for 214 yards and a passing touchdown. Burns added 32 yards on the ground, including a seven-yard scamper in the first quarter.
“I was glad to see us put drives together,” Burns said. “Last week against Creekview (in a scrimmage), we didn’t get long ones. It was good to that we have the capability.”
“He’s a tough litter sucker,” Cahill said of his quarterback’s play. “He gets in and makes plays. He’s calm all of the time when stuff’s going wrong.”
Woodstock (0-1) came out to start the second half throwing the ball. Quarterback Garrett Bass threw 10 passes in a 12-play drive but West’s Ryan Wnek stepped in front of a pass for an interception.
Jake Cumming’s interception deep inside Woodstock territory late in the third quarter helped push West up 24-14 on a Burns two-yard keeper going in to the fourth quarter.
As strong as the passing game was, the second half was all about running the football. West had 148 rushing yards. Cahill said that’s what he really wanted to see.
“That’s what I want our team to be known for is to be able to run the football. We found some backs that were able to step up and find holes,” Cahill said. “It took them a while to be comfortable with it, but when they figured it out, they were popping through.”
West added the exclamation point after Mitch Hollyfield’s 62-yard rush helped Saxby Waxer score from 21 yards out to lead 31-14 early in the final stanza.
The West defense took advantage of four Woodstock turnovers.
“Our defense played lights out,” Cahill said. “That is a high-octane offense. (Bass) is a really good quarterback. …They have a lot of weapons on offense and our defense stepped up and made play after play.”
“Offensively we just didn’t execute,” Woodstock coach Brent Budde said. “We got ourselves behind the chains with dropped passes, blown assignments, whatever it was. That forces us to press the ball and we don’t need to do that.”
Woodstock got on the board in the second quarter after quarterback Garrett Bass found Ryan Martin streaking down the near sideline for a 23-yard touchdown.