Prep preview: Titans football ready to roll

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 16, 2018

By Marc Pruitt
For the Clemmons Courier

Football season is back at West Forsyth, and Coach Adrian Snow has plenty of reasons for optimism for the upcoming season.

West will open its season Friday night at home against Lake Norman. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Despite graduating 28 seniors from last season’s 11-1 team that advanced to the second round of the NCHSAA 4AA playoffs, the Titans return plenty of talent in key positions and have some promising up-and-comers ready to make an impact on the varsity level.

“We’re young, there’s no doubt about that,” said Snow, who is entering his 11th season as head coach at West. “We’ve got some young talent though, especially on offense. Defensively, we’ve got some older guys that we can hopefully lean on early and help us get going until we grow offensively. It’s not to say we don’t have great players, they’re just young players. And the lights are a little brighter on Friday nights than they are on Thursdays. We have 23 seniors this year who have plenty of game experience under their belts.”

The Titans boast one of the top defensive backfields in the area, if not the state, in the senior tandem of Ja’Quan McMillian, a four-year starter who has verbally committed to East Carolina, and Jaylon McMillon, a three-year starter who is garnering plenty of recruiting interest as well.

Senior Jack Olds, a three-year starter, and junior Giovanni Ricciardi, a two-year starter, were both all-conference performers at linebacker in the Central Piedmont 4-A last season and will give the defense stability.

“Our strengths right now are definitely our defensive backs, our linebackers, and our running game,” Snow said. “We’ve got a couple of returning defensive linemen with some good experience. I feel pretty good about where we are right now. We’ve had some great practices and a great off-season, and they are all working hard to get better. We just have to get them going now.”

Offensively, junior running back G’Mone Wilson is back after a breakout sophomore season and will be expected to carry the running game along with James Gordon.

Providing the holes for Wilson and Gordon to run through will be a re-tooled offensive line that returns two starters — Isaiah Brooks (6-4, 308 pounds) and Greg Foushee (6-0, 277). Jared Wilson (6-3, 280) has had a productive preseason and will occupy another slot in the trenches.

“We’re replacing several starters up front, but the talent is there,” Snow said. “We just have to get them adjusted. Once that kicks in, we should be just fine.”

Snow has been keeping a close eye on the development of junior quarterbacks Jalen Ferguson and Shane Jarvis, neither of whom has played a varsity snap.

“It’s been a pretty even battle between those two so far, and again, it’s a matter of how quickly they adjust to playing at game speed on the varsity level,” Snow said. “Both of them have their strengths. They will also have some good experience with our returning receiving corps, too. Our special teams should be a bright spot. We’ve got a good one in Christian Kaplan, who has a strong leg. If he can put the ball in the end zone every time and make the other team go 80 yards, that’s a huge plus and will only help us in the long run. We’ll keep putting people in the best spots on the field for us to succeed. It’s like making a great soup — you add a little of this and a little of that and hopefully you can conjure it up and make it taste good.”

Countdown to kickoff

Friday’s opponent: Lake Norman, 2-9 last season. Did not make the playoffs.

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. at West

Outlook: The Titans traveled to Lake Norman for the season-opener last year and came away with a 42-14 win. The Wildcats struggled all season and averaged 20.2 points per game and 261 yards of offense while allowing 33.6 points per game. Jonathan Oliphant was named as Lake Norman’s coach in the spring, his first stint as a varsity head coach after several years as the defensive coordinator at Mooresville.

Comments from Coach Snow: “Jonathan is a great guy who will do a great job in getting that foundation built back up. They will be hungry, just like everyone else the first week. You can’t win them all unless you win the first one. But we’re ready to get things going.”