As West Forsyth’s girls flag football team took the field on a chilly and misty Monday night, they began to realize the finality of the moment.
It would be the last time the Forsyth County champions would play together, and the fact that they were playing in early December was a scenario that none of them would have thought possible just months ago. Although the Wolverines ultimately took a 20-6 loss to Cherokee County champion Sequoyah, just being out there was a win in itself.
“It was just fun to get out here and get to call plays again with them, because it's the last time I get to do it,” West Forsyth athletic director and girls flag football head coach Brett Phipps said. “It's kind of emotional for me. This is a great bunch of kids and I just enjoy hanging out with them. We knew nothing about (Sequoyah). We had no film, no anything. We did all right -- we fought.
“With this game, I told the girls, ‘Listen, tonight's just about going out and having a good time. If we win, we win, but at the same time, we want to be competitive.’ It felt tight the whole way.”
On defense, West’s Haylee Dornan corralled an interception with 12:30 left in the first half, and with 5:17 left before the break, she completed a pass to Catalina Infante for a 6-0 lead.
From that point on, though, the Chiefs’ quick and athletic group rallied back, taking a 7-6 lead before the half before scoring again in their first drive of the second half to make it 14-6. Another Sequoyah touchdown with a minute to play put the game out of reach for West.
“We didn't pull flags the way we had all season,” Phipps said. “We missed a bunch of tackles, if you will, but that's OK. We had a good time and I thought we represented the county well tonight. That's a really good team.”
While Monday was the end of the season for most of West’s players, nine of them will see their season continue for another week when they play in an all-star game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta next week. Dornan will be representing the Wolverines at quarterback.
“It's crazy,” she said. “It's so exciting. As soon as we found out, we were ecstatic.”
Joining her will be her sister Katelyn Dornan, who plays cornerback. For her, it will be the culmination of a special season that helped bring the two closer together.
“I love it,” Katelyn said. “Even though we don't get along all the time, I do really like my sister. We do a lot of the same things, but we never do them together, so this was the first time we were on the same team, actually playing with each other. It was really fun.”
Even though Monday was the end of the season for everyone else, though, they were not only happy with the memories they had made, but proud of what they’d accomplished and the kind of foundation they’d helped set for the sport in the county.
“It's a lot of fun coming back one last time and seeing us work together as a real team -- not even as an on-the-field team, but actually as a bonded team,” safety Ellery Shearer said. “It just feels good to be a part of that, especially this year, just being a part of something that's new and fresh and fun and just building something up for the next few years.”