JOHNS CREEK – West Forsyth head coach Adam Clack noticed when he arrived at Northview Stadium Friday afternoon that things felt a little bit different.
After an hour commute to Johns Creek in heavy traffic and a modest home crowd due to rain, Clack and coaches exchanged observations before kickoff: the environment was “a little stale.” That worried Clack, who was hoping to keep his Wolverines on track and get above .500 after an 0-2 start to the season.
Coach didn't worry for long.
Joey Congrove returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, and after a three-and-out Kiernen Hamilton—the state's eighth-leading passer, heading into the contest—hit Austin Reid on the first of two long touchdowns for the duo as West eventually rolled to a 28-7 win.
“It took us over an hour to get here, you have rain going on and we had no played in rain yet. To me, and this is no knock on Northview, but every game we played in—we played Mill Creek first game of the year, we played Alpharetta and the stands were packed, then we opened our home with packed stands and then Habersham was homecoming, so every game we've been in the atmosphere had been Friday night lights,” Clack said. “The weather, we were all talking about it, it was a very stale atmosphere, and that can kind of lull you to sleep, but we took the kickoff back and scored on our first possession. I was proud of that.”
Clack called it the team's most complete game of the season. West (3-2, 3-1 Region 6-AAAAAA) allowed just 51 yards in the first half, prompting Northview to make a quarterback change after starter Paul Miller was flustered into just 4 yards passing in the first half.
West then made life hard for sophomore quarterback Colton McDaniel in the second half, as McDaniel was intercepted twice—once in the endzone by Luke Lingo and a possession later by Thomas Arundale—and fumbled a drive away. A Northview turnover on downs gave West four straight forced turnovers to keep the Titans (3-2, 2-2) off the scoreboard for a majority of the contest.
Clack felt like the Wolverines, who had two turnovers on downs in scoring position in the first half, could have done more, but with a victory the points left on the field will be teaching points as the team enters its bye-week.
“We executed about 80 percent of the game tonight,” Clack said. “We make a big emphasis on self-inflicted mistakes. We had a penalty that stopped a drive and then we dropped a touchdown. You'd like to come out of with 42 points and bump your chest a bit, but that just gives us more to work on. We beat a good football team tonight.”
Hamilton finished 13 of 22 passing for 241 yards, with touchdowns of 41 yards and 39 yards to Reid, who finished with 127 yards on just four receptions. Zach Burn added five receptions for 81 yards. Overall, Hamilton had five completions of over 20 yards as West produced 19 first downs while only committing three penalties and punting twice.
Grant Torgerson punched in from 3 yards to make the score 21-0 at the half. In the second half, Northview looked to reset the tone by going to talented sophomore tailback Emeka Nwanze, but McDaniel's fumble, recovered by Eli Huggins, killed a 15-play drive.
Nwanze finished strong, rushing for 160 yards on 24 carries. It was touted prospect Jair Anderson, who made little of an impact through most of the game, who scored from 1 yard out with 3:45 remaining in the game to get the Titans on the board.