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Football: West looks to go 'old-school' in spring ball
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West Forsyth head football coach Shawn Cahill watches players go through a drill during a spring practice. - photo by Ian Frazer

The West Forsyth football team has all the trappings of a modern program, and new helmets for this fall to match, but Wolverines head coach Shawn Cahill isn’t afraid to look to the past.

“Yeah, I’m old-school,” the second-year coach said with a laugh on Tuesday. “I’m way old-school.”

The Wolverines, currently in their second week of spring practice, have several significant positional needs to fill on offense. Quarterback Zach Burns is gone, as is star tight end Ben Bresnahan, as is reliable receiver Bryce Jones. That means that the Wolverines, already a ground-geared team, will likely go even heavier towards the run.

When looking to college programs for inspiration, Cahill and his assistants lean towards the ones with developed power-run games, like Stanford and North Dakota State. Cahill recently visited NDSU, his alma mater, with offensive coordinator Chad Davenport for a coaching clinic.

“We'll be more downhill, (and) we're teaching the kids how to huddle a little bit more, so offensively, that's kind of what we're morphing into,” Cahill said. “And when you look down the pipeline, that's the kind of kids that we have coming up, so that's the progression we're (seeing) offensively.”

The Wolverines still need a quarterback, though, and that’s been another focus of the spring. Rising juniors Casey Cowart and Blake Whitfield are candidates for the job, as is rising sophomore Drew Southern, who started at shortstop for West’s baseball team during the spring.

Cahill said that Cowart and Whitfield are a touch ahead at this point, given their extra experience, but that he anticipates that battle taking until August to be decided. He also said that the Wolverines could begin the season with an alternating system at QB so that multiple players can get game experience.

Cahill wants to have the battle decided by the time the Wolverines open their region schedule at Milton, though, which is one of the team’s most anticipated matchups, given that former West head coach Adam Clack is in the same position with the Eagles.

The Wolverines should be more experienced and stable at defense, where returning contributors like Mikhari Sibblis, Jake Huggins and Jake Weldy give them a strong front seven. Safety Abe Camara is also back to lead the secondary.

And the Milton game isn’t the only one that has the Wolverines fired up. Cahill was aggressive and adventurous when scheduling non-region games, and opponents there include traditional state power Camden County and a high-talent Hewitt-Trussville (Ala.) squad.

“So far, they’ve been working hard,” Cahill said of the players. “That started back in January. When we put the schedule out for the kids, they got excited.”