West Forsyth at a glance
2012 record: 10-2, 6-1 Region 6-AAAAAA
Returning starters: 6 offense, 6 defense
Key losses: QB A.J. Erdely, RB Jake Wieczorek, WR Tanner Bridges, TE Ty Anderson, OT Zach Bradbury, OL Will Bass, LB Mohamed Camara, LB Josh Salo, ILB Conner Vandenbos, DB Jacob Hill.
Key returners: OL Andrew Marshall, RB Trevor O’Brien, OL Zach Bradbury, DL Brett Anderson, OL John Salo.
Key newcomers: LB Dillon Coats, S Ryan Guthrie, WR Kyran Ochocki, RB Gabe Pierce.
Coach Frank Hepler says: "We feel good about going into the season. Yeah, we lost great kids, but we’ve got another group ready to step in and take over."
Frank Hepler doesn’t view the 2013 football season as a rebuilding year but rather as an opportunity for newer players to shine.
The West Forsyth coach guided his team to the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs before falling in overtime to Parkview last season. The Wolverines finished with a record of 10-2 and outscored opponents by an average of 19.4 points per game.
Since West started playing a varsity schedule in 2008, the program has a record of 42-14, good for the best record of any Region 6-AAAAAA program in its first five seasons.
"We look to build upon the returning kids coming back and try to improve each day," Hepler said. "We had a great spring and we’re looking forward to getting back after it in the summer. Whether you’re a playoff team or at the bottom of your region, you’re always looking to get better."
The 2013 season may present its biggest challenge for Hepler. West loses five starters on offense, including A.J. Erdely, Jake Wieczorek, Tanner Bridges and Ty Anderson — its starting quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end. Those four players accounted for a staggering 6,741 yards and 65 touchdowns.
The defense will also lose five starters, including University of South Carolina signee Mohamed Camara. The linebacker racked up 90 tackles, seven sacks and two interceptions and was named the Region 6-AAAAAA defensive player of the year.
"You hope that as we’ve built our program that [the] next year your depth and everything you’ve done to try and build your JV and freshman program [will pay off]," Hepler said. "You hope the next guy in will be able to live up to that former player. It’s tough when you have some great ones like we did, but we feel good about the guys who’ve been in our program.
"I know last year our quarterback A.J. and running back Jake had a lot of the headlines, but if you go back and look statistically, we had a lot of other kids touching the ball and scoring touchdowns. And that’s the key to our offense — being real multiple and getting a lot of kids involved in the offense."
Filling in for Erdely will either be rising senior John Conway or rising junior Hampton McConnell. Conway has the most game experience of the two but has only thrown six passes, while McConnell played receiver and punter. However, Hepler said he feels comfortable with the quarterback position.
"We have two real good quarterbacks battling for the starting spot right now," Hepler said. "Both of those guys backed up A.J. last year … so right now coming out of spring they’re pretty even. We’ll keep working with them throughout the summer and we’ll see if we have a starter or go with both of them. Both of them are going to be pretty darn good, so we’re excited."