West Forsyth head coach Shawn Cahill didn’t let himself get too comfortable on Friday night, even if almost everyone in the stands was.
The Wolverines took the lead in the opening stages of its Friday night tilt against North Forsyth, and while the visiting Raiders were able to tie at one point, West never gave up the lead or the momentum, taking a 35-14 win on Friday night.
Despite that, West’s head man wasn’t about change what’s been working over the Wolverines’ winning streak, which was extended to three games with the victory. West also clinched a spot in the state playoffs with the win.
“We were in control of the game,” he said. “We never felt threatened, but we never felt like, ‘Oh, that’s it.’ We felt good the whole night, but not good enough for me to put a headset on.”
During the game’s opening drive, the Raiders attempted a fourth down conversion in West’s red zone but couldn’t get past the stick. West took the ball and began to move down the field, with a cutback run by Stephon Bland on his first carry of the night moving the Wolverines to the Raider 23.
One play later, with 2:38 left in the first quarter, Drew Southern found Abe Camara down the center of the field, throwing a pinpoint pass to Camara with two North defenders on him for a touchdown, giving West a 7-0 lead after the PAT.
Despite the early passing score, though, the ground game stood at the forefront all night, which was influenced in part by the cold and rainy conditions.
“We ran the ball the way we kind of want to run the ball,” Cahill said. “In the second quarter there, the rain was coming down pretty good, and we kind of pulled back the reins on throwing it. We could see when (Drew Southern) was gripping it, it was kind of a shotput throw and we didn't want to take any chances on it.”
Like West, North’s offense was moving well on the ground, but the Raiders couldn’t get the points. With 11:49 left in the first half, West’s Easton Baggett broke up what would have been a long touchdown pass from Carter Mullikin to Charlie Aiken.
That drive ended in a punt, but on their next chance, the Raiders converted a fourth down conversion at the Wolverine 12. Two plays later, with 4:07 left in the second quarter, Bryson Trigg weaved through defenders on his way to the end zone, tying the game at 7-7.
Trigg’s score marked the closest the Raiders came to jumping in front. Craft and his team have been at the end of close losses all year, and Friday’s result was another one, even if the final score didn’t show it.
“Our challenge all week long was, ‘What do we have to do to close that gap?’” Craft said. “I feel like we were in that same situation all night where we needed a good stop to get off the field or needed to put together a good drive to tie it. We just couldn’t do that.”
It didn’t take long for West to retake the lead. After a 37-yard connection from Southern to Casey Cowart to North’s eight-yard line, Southern found Bland for a two-yard score, giving West a one-score lead heading into the break. Most of the third quarter was scoreless, but with 3:11 left, Camara took a direct snap and zipped down the sideline to give the Wolverines some breathing room at 21-7.
“We were down there and said, 'Let's give it to (our) best athlete and see what he can do,’” Cahill said.
North responded on its next drive with effective rushes by Mullikin and Trigg, and the long march culminated in a 2-yard touchdown by Honus Wagner as time expired in the third. But with a quarterback sneak by Southern early in the fourth, West took the two-possession lead back at 28-14.
Five minutes later, Camara ended North’s very slim chance of staying in it, picking off Mullikin and returning the interception 44 yards. Waxer scored one play later to give West a three-score lead.
“Give them no hope, that's what the interception was,” Camara said. “We proved that we can do that.”
With a 3-1 region record, West is in prime position for a home playoff game. A win against South next week will be key to reaching that goal, and Cahill isn’t letting his team forget it.
“Usually we give them 24 hours to enjoy it,” Cahill said. “We told them, ‘You have until you wake up tomorrow, and you have to start thinking about South.’ It's a big game for us. We have to take care of what we have to take care of.”