Albeit in a scrimmage, West Forsyth quarterback Kiernen Hamilton was hard at work Friday night at home against Carrollton from Class AAAA.
Hamilton, who’s been in a neck-in-neck competition with fellow junior Hank Flood to replace Hampton McConnell (now at Georgia Southern), had the Wolverines moving early. He completed 15 of 18 passes, totaled 148 yards and dropped a floater down a chimney to the back, right-hand corner of the endzone to Ben Bresnahan for a 10-yard touchdown.
When the game was done—a 28-14 final in favor of the Trojans—one might think West coach Adam Clack would be ready to hand Hamilton the keys to the offense, but the truth was Clack didn’t even know Hamilton would take snaps in the first series of the contest.
“It’s funny. (Hamilton) and Hank (Flood) have been dueling all summer. I didn’t make a decision tonight on a starter,” Clack said. “We had a competition where they had to knock helmets off trash cans. Kiernen was able to get two off first, so that’s why he started.”
Flood finished a modest 5 of 9 for 23 yards, while sophomore quarterback Austin Marshall shrugged off a shaky start to finish 6 of 10 for 71 yards. While West passed for 242 yards, it only ran for 31. Clack said the lack of rushing yards was more about taking what the Trojans defense was giving them.
“You’re going to look at the box score and saw a lot of passing, but half the time we went to the line with a run-pass option,” Clack said. “It’s all based on what they’re giving us.”
West arguably left points on the board. While the game was tied 7-7 at halftime, the Wolverines had the ball inside the redzone three times in the first half but failed to punch in—overall, they traded 16 first downs for 14 penalties in the game.
On the flipside, Carrollton made its living on big plays. Jaylan Thomas had the game’s longest score—a 55-yard scamper to the house—while Keegan Hill had runs of 55 and 36 yards, Conrad Jackson totaled 52 yards and quarterback DeMarcus Mitchell totaled 57 yards on 11 carries. The Trojans used their zone-read option and track-caliber speed to split defenders on a few handfuls of snaps, but overall Clack left the game praising his defense for one thing.
“For whatever reason, running to the football with maximum effort lacked the past few years,” Clack said. “One thing we talked about in the offseason was running to the football and having relentless effort. We had blown assignments tonight and it wasn’t perfect. In a scrimmage you don’t expect it to be perfect, but what was undeniable was our effort and the desire. Those two key things were there, so we’ve just got to sure some things up.”
West’s other touchdown was a four-yard run from Clay Crocker, making the score 21-14. The Wolverines had a chance to get the ball back shortly after but fumbled the punt inside their own 10-yard line, setting up a touchdown run for Carrollton.
“Hats off to Carrollton,” Clack said. “Coach (Ed) Dudley does an outstanding job, he’s an even better man, and they’re very respectful and play the game the right way.
“But man, they had the speed to boot.”