West Forsyth’s football team stood at a crossroads on Friday night.
The Wolverines were just 1-5 and had just come off a rough shutout loss to Milton to open their region schedule. In the back of their minds, West was beginning to wonder if their rigid non-region schedule was ever going to pay off.
The Wolverines’ result against Forsyth Central was a hint towards the affirmative. West earned its first region win on Friday, manhandling the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball and cruising to a dominating 39-0 victory.
“We had said all year that we thought we were a pretty decent football team,” West head coach Shawn Cahill said. “Our kids stuck with it, (and) we talked to them all week about how (they’ve) played good competition. They bought in, and from the start, the emotion was back up for them that we had at the beginning of the year.”
West (2-5, 1-1 Region 5-7A) began the game with a fumbled snap on its first offensive play, but that was the only miscue the Wolverines would see until the end of the first half. West quarterback Drew Southern recovered the fumble and led the Wolverines down the field to the 14-yard line, where the drive stalled. West settled for a 31-yard field goal from Alex Wilson, finishing off a long 17-play opening march.
“We had to have something positive happen early,” Cahill said. “That’s why we took the football (to start the game) to score some points, and that happened. From there, the kids just got an extra step.”
Early in the second quarter, West executed another long drive, which ended with Southern hitting Casey Cowart for a 4-yard touchdown to put the Wolverines up 10-0 with 10:28 left in the first half.
Central (5-2, 1-1) didn’t come close to matching that same kind offensive success. The Bulldogs gained just 25 yards of offense on 15 carries in the first half, and for the game, the Bulldogs only mustered three first downs, compared to West’s 21. It was a sobering experience for Central after the Bulldogs got their first region win in two years over North Forsyth last week.
“We’ve got to be a lot more physical, and we’ve got to learn how to win a big game and come back and win another one,” Central head coach Frank Hepler said. “I think that was part of it. We let them bring the game to us, and we need to bring the game to people when we play.”
The Bulldogs’ fortunes only got worse as the second quarter went on. With 3:33 left in the second quarter, a snap went over the head of Central punter Keaton Platzke, and a herd of West defenders got to him in the end zone for a safety.
West took the ensuing free kick and cashed in for more points, with Saxby Waxer powering into the end zone for another Wolverine touchdown with 1:52 left to the half. Central grabbed an interception of Southern at West’s 40 with 10 seconds before halftime, but it came too late to get anything out of it.
“The holes were opening up, and I was following the guard,” Waxer said. “It was as easy as that. I got some open space, and the yards just came.”
Central tried to make something happen on their first possession of the second half with a fake punt, but it failed at the Bulldogs’ own 30. That eventually led to a QB sneak in the end zone from the half-yard line by Southern with 6:07 left in the third. Five minutes later, Abe Camara hauled in a Southern pass down the sideline and dove for the left pylon for a 38-yard score. Waxer scored his second touchdown from a yard out with 4:18 left in the game.
“We changed some people around,” Cahill said. “We had (Stephon Bland) in the backfield giving him the ball 30 times a game. It was easy to key on him, so we moved him around a little bit. Saxby went back in at running back. We moved Abe around to get him the ball… They’re playmakers. I think that maybe caught them off a little bit.”
Waxer finished with 94 yards rushing on 23 carries, while Camara caught eight passes for 93 yards. Southern completed 24 of 34 passes for 218 yards.