West Forsyth 34, Johns Creek 3
West Forsyth 0 6 14 14_34
Johns Creek 3 0 0 0_3
JC: FG Rouff 27, 4:45
WF: Rogers 24 pass from McConnell (kick missed), 2:01
WF: Rogers 12 pass from McConnell (kick good), 5:40
WF: Torgeson 5 run (kick good), 1:09
WF: McConnell 1 run (kick good), 7:01
WF: McConnell 2 run (kick good), 4:43
JOHNS CREEK--- West Forsyth travelled to Johns Creek on Friday with one objective in mind: win their regular season finale and let the rest of the region playoff picture figure itself out. And although West thoroughly handled its business in a 34-3 blowout win, the Wolverines came up on the wrong side of the playoff shuffle and will miss the post-season for the first time in four years.
At the beginning of the week, West (6-4, 6-3 Region 6-AAAAAA) seemed to have a clear path to the playoffs, needing only a Lambert victory and a win of their own to move on. But after the region changed the interpretation of the tiebreaker scenario, the Wolverines learned that both Lambert and Centennial would have to win on Friday to keep their playoff hopes alive. Lambert dominated South Forsyth 40-7, but Centennial fell to Northview 54-26, officially ending West’s playoff bid.
"We had an unfortunate decision go against us in the rules committee," West coach Adam Clack said. "You try to shield your team from things like that, but it’s difficult to do that nowadays. All of us, coaches included, felt the weight of our odds dropping from 75 percent to 25 percent. We’re all human."
On the field, the Wolverines looked to be in post-season form, reeling off 34 unanswered points after Johns Creek (1-9, 1-8) took a 3-0 lead with a first quarter field goal. The wide receiver duo of Nathan Schmitz and Michael Rogers sliced up the Gladiator secondary with Schmitz (five catches, 148 yards) propelling the offense downfield and Rogers (two catches, 36 yards, 2 TDs) finishing off drives in the red zone.
"The uncertainty of tonight made us unfocused to start the game, but we responded big time in the second half," Schmitz said.
Senior quarterback Hampton McConnell, who will be taking his talents to Georgia Southern, ended his career at West with a solid closing act, displaying efficiency as both a passer (8-of-14, 181 yards, two touchdowns) and a runner (18 carries, 65 yards, two touchdowns). The Wolverines’ defense pitched a shutout for the final three quarters, forcing a crucial goal line fumble with the Gladiators threatening to score in the second quarter and securing two drive-killing interceptions in the fourth quarter.
"Perseverance. Resilience. Any of those words comes to mind," Clack said. "We lost our first two games of the year against great opponents, but this team just fought and clawed their way back while playing some really good football. I’m so proud of these guys."
With West’s season coming to a premature close, Clack had a few moments to reflect on his first year as head coach.
"You always look back at the season, from individual plays to our overall scheme, and see what changed," he said. "Looking back, I don’t think I can question the grit and the work ethic these players and coaches showed. I’ll be able to look in the mirror as a coach, and as member of this program, and know that we undoubtedly gave it our all."