Friendly rivalry: Reagan, West Forsyth to meet once again Friday night in Central Piedmont 4-A game in Clemmons
Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 5, 2023
By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier
West Forsyth and Reagan are about nine and a half miles apart, and it doesn’t matter the sport; the two schools in western Forsyth County are bitter rivals.
However, when the two schools play, there’s a healthy respect between the schools, administrators, coaches and athletes. That should be on full display Friday night when Reagan travels from Pfafftown to Clemmons to take on West Forsyth at Jerry Peoples Stadium in yet another Central Piedmont 4-A football clash between the two teams.
West Forsyth (5-1, 3-0) is coming off a 46-13 win last Friday night to put itself in a first-place tie with Davie County (5-1, 3-0) for the conference lead. Reagan (1-5, 1-2) lost 54-41 last Friday at home to Davie County.
This is the first time Coach Kevin Wallace will have witnessed the rivalry as head coach at West Forsyth.
“It’s a rivalry game,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen. And that’s one of the craziest things about rivalry games is that is that they’re so unpredictable.”
Coach Josh McGee of Reagan has seen the rivalry from many different angles. He played quarterback in high school at West Forsyth before he graduated in 2001, which was before Reagan was built in 2005. After playing in college at Winston-Salem State, he was an assistant coach for two years at West Forsyth with former Coach Adrian Snow. McGee was named head coach at Reagan in 2011.
“I think the roles were reversed last year,” McGee said. “I think we were having a really good record, and they were a little bit down. It was a 42-39 ballgame, and so you’re always going to get a great environment — two teams that want to beat the other one pretty good. We’re obviously 10 minutes, 12 minutes apart from each other. Two schools that I think are really similar. You know, the biggest schools in the county from a student-body population.
“But at the end of the day, for both of us, I think it’s a Central Piedmont conference game, and we’re at the point now where we’ve got four left, and we need all four.”
West Forsyth will travel to Davie County next Friday in what could be a battle of conference unbeaten, but neither team can overlook their next opponents. Just like West Forsyth is playing host to Reagan on Friday, Davie County is traveling to Mount Tabor.
“I liked how we played (against Glenn). Um, we’ve got to clean up some stuff. I still believe our focus was too far in advance for some of our kids and stuff Friday night,” Wallace said. “But we made it through it, we got the W, and now we’re on to the next week. So, I’ll take the W anyway we can.”
Since 2017, in the last eight meetings between West Forsyth and Reagan, including two NCHSAA playoff games, West Forsyth is 5-3 against Reagan. West Forsyth won 38-7 at home in 2017. In 2018, West Forsyth won 21-16 in the final game of the regular season at Reagan, but Reagan came to West Forsyth for the playoffs and won 34-20. In 2019, almost the same thing happened. West Forsyth won 31-21 at home in the regular-season meeting, and three weeks later, in the playoffs, West Forsyth won 28-12. There was no game in 2020 because of COVID-19, but they played in the spring of 2021, and West Forsyth won 28-25.
Since spring of 2021, Reagan has won the last two games — 15-9 at West Forsyth in 2021 and 42-39 last year at Reagan.
“I think there was only two guys who were up on varsity — Caleb (David) and Davion (Eldridge) — that have actually beaten Reagan in a varsity football game,” Wallace said. “So, I think that’s going to be a good motivation tool for them. And we’ll see, hopefully, we can get it done.”
Not only is it a close rivalry on the field, it’s a close rivalry off the field. Both head coaches are good friends.
“I would consider us really good friends,” McGee said. “Great guy, tremendous football coach. When that job came open, you know, phone calls were kind of going everywhere. That was the one guy that I thought would be the perfect fit for that place. You know, he’s come in (from Northwest Guilford), and he’s done an outstanding job. You know, I think when you’ve got those guys up front (offensive line) and that running back (Caman Chaplin), it don’t take a whole lot.”
Wallace was aware that McGee recommended him for the job when Snow resigned after last season.
“I owe him a lot for it,” Wallace said. “So, yeah, I appreciate him for that.”
As mentioned by McGee, Chaplin has been a dominant force for the Titans this season. He finished with 178 yards rushing last Friday against Glenn, and he had four touchdowns — three rushing and one receiving from quarterback Bert RIce. Two weeks ago, against Parkland, he finished with 253 yards and four touchdowns, all in the first quarter as West Forsyth won 56-9.
“Our thing is, some of the RPO (run-pass option) stuff really helps really loosen that up (stacking the box against Chaplin) because they can’t just put the extra guy in,” Wallace said. “And that’s what we kind of look for is where is the extra guy coming from?”
Not only has Reagan struggled on the field this season, it has faced some adversity off the field.
Assistant coach Chris McCoy, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia, is going through treatment. McCoy’s wife, Alexis, is the former athletic director at Reagan and is now the assistant athletic director for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. They have a son named Alonzo.
“It’s tough,” McGee said. “If I sat here and told you that it wasn’t, I’d be lying to you. As a head coach, it’s definitely a tough thing to balance and juggle for me personally. You’re talking about probably my best friend. So, going through that personally, trying to deal with that personally, and then the impact that it has on, obviously coaching.
“You’re trying to make sure he and his family are taken care of. And you’re trying to make sure 120 other kids are taken care of, so it’s tough to juggle. But I feel like our staff’s done a great job. Obviously, you lose your running-back coach, and you lose your head JV coach. But at the end of the day, football takes a back seat to what Coach is going through, and we’re just trying to make sure he and Alexis and Alonzo are taken care of and they’ve got all the support they need.”
One problem with the Raiders doing that is that they have been decimated by injuries.
“We lost our free safety (Kamari Carter) and strong safety (Yazir Wilson) to torn ACLS the week of the first game,” McGee said. “Didn’t even make it to Week 1. Yazir tore his in the scrimmage, and Kamari tore his on Tuesday’s practice of (Waxhaw) Marvin Ridge. So, now we’re in the position where our receivers are having to play DB, which is OK, but through the course of the game, you get tired.”
Despite the injuries, the Raiders still have quarterback Jacob Smith (soph., 6-foot-3, 200 pounds) and running back Jaylen Moore (soph., 5-8, 172 pounds). They also have receiver Landan Callahan (Sr., 5-11, 170 pounds), who is also playing cornerback.
“There’s youth, and then there’s inexperience, and so when I say there’s inexperience, whether it’s a junior or a senior, they haven’t played much in the past,” McGee said.
No matter the issues for either team, there will be a game at Jerry Peoples Stadium on Friday.
“I don’t think it will be hard to (overlook) Reagan (and look ahead to Davie County) because we’re going to throw it in their face that they haven’t beaten Reagan in three years,” Wallace said. “So, I think that’s going to motivate them, and I think it will work out well.”