A tale of two diverging football teams: Motivated West Forsyth travels to play at struggling Reynolds in Central Piedmont 4-A game

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 19, 2023

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By Jay Spivey

For the Clemmons Courier

What a difference a week makes.

Just a week after being upset by Reagan, West Forsyth bounced back last Friday with a win at Davie County. And now, West Forsyth must prepare for this week’s game at Deaton-Thompson Stadium against struggling Reynolds.

“We’ve just got to move past this week and move forward and make sure we’re not looking in the past,” Coach Kevin Wallace of West Forsyth said. “We’re looking in the future. We’ve got to worry about this week only.”

With West Forsyth losing to Reagan and Davie County losing to Mount Tabor, both West Forsyth and Davie County let East Forsyth back in the Central Piedmont 4-A race. West Forsyth defeated Davie County 50-42, and East Forsyth routed Reynolds 52-0, meaning the two teams are tied for first place with two weeks remaining.

And to make things more intriguing, East Forsyth (7-1, 4-1) plays rival Glenn (5-3, 3-2) this week, and if both West Forsyth (6-2, 4-1) defeats Reynolds (2-6, 1-4) and East Forsyth defeats Glenn it will set up for a winner-takes-all game for the conference championship next Friday at Jerry Peoples Stadium in Clemmons.

“You’ve got to be on top of the (players) more, more than ever,” Wallace said. “You’ve just got to emphasize the little things and be on top of them and really hold them accountable throughout the week. And, you know, I think our team learned a big lesson from a couple of weeks ago (against Reagan), so I think we’ll be OK.

“I think they understand the importance of not looking past somebody and in the position they’re in now and where we’ve got to go.”

Much like Wallace, who replaced Adrian Snow last December, Coach Joe Davidyock of Reynolds is in his first season as head coach after replacing Pat Crowley, who was the head coach there for eight seasons. Davidyock, who was at Charlotte Mallard Creek for the past three seasons, including last season as the offensive coordinator, comes in under trying circumstances.

“I think the location of the school (appealed to me),” Davidyock said. “It’s really interesting. I mean, it’s kind of right in the middle of the city. You know, all the little Mom and Pop shops around the school. You know, obviously, the campus is very unique.

“So, all of those things drew me into at least being intrigued by the place, and I think looking at it from a coaching standpoint, you look at a school in the middle of the city with the rich history that it has, kind of seeing that it was struggling a little bit I felt like there was some potential there. And I certainly still feel that way.”

Not only are the Demons struggling this season, they struggled the previous eight seasons under Crowley. While there, Crowley was 24-60 overall and 6-40 in the conference.

“Looking at it, you’ve got a hundred years of alumni support,” Davidyock said. “You know, that’s one of the biggest things that jumped out at me. People want Reynolds to be a place that everyone wants to be like. Mr. (Calvin) Freeman (principal at Reynolds) says it all the time. And I think that was the most kind of thing that popped out at me was just the support from the community and just how willing everybody is to be there to help.

“And I wanted to reconnect that because I feel like there’s a lot of rich history that people enjoyed, and we’ve been down on our luck a little while. But kind of getting into it, I felt like we weren’t as connected as I thought we could be. And that’s what I’m trying to do here.”

Although both Wallace and Davidyock are new to their respective schools and to the conference, this week’s game won’t be the first time they will have met.

“When I moved down here (from New Jersey), I was getting recruited at Greensboro College,” Davidyock said. “(Wallace) was the offensive coordinator. And I was coming to play receiver. And, before I knew him, when I wasn’t going to be playing, he actually ended up moving on and going to Northwest (Guilford). But I knew him from my recruiting trail.

“So, I don’t know if he remembers that at all, but I’ve had a relationship with him since he’s been at Northwest.”

It turns out that Wallace does remember Davidyock at Greensboro College.

“His high school coach Damon Coiro, Damon was at Mallard Creek last year, but now he’s over at (Charlotte) Providence Day,” Wallace said. “Damon and my wife went to college together…He had been at Greensboro for a little bit, but he had gone up to Toms River (N.J.) to coach for one year, and Joe was on the team.

“And he was trying to get him down to Greensboro, and I kind of recruited him a little bit. And that was the year I was getting out of it.”
The Titans have dominated the Demons the past eight seasons, outscoring them 327-108, but the dominance is even more evident the past four seasons, outscoring the Demons 172-35.

“They’ve always had some good kids,” Wallace said. “Even when I was back at Glenn, and we played them. I mean, holy moly. Joey’s got some decent-looking kids. Depth, I think, was always an issue for them. And kind of looking at the sideline now, it looks like that’s a little bit of an issue also. Hopefully, we can handle business and be fine.”

Defense is going to have to be a major focal point for Reynolds. Caman Chaplin of the Titans piled up 365 yards last Friday at Davie County and accounted for six touchdowns — five rushing and one receiving. Senior Case Wright, who is 6-foot-1 and 171 pounds, is a catalyst at safety. Another key defensive player is Joee Crowley, the son of Pat Crowley. Crowley, a junior, plays linebacker and tight end.

“We base out of a 3-4,” Davidyock said. “We’re going to be more of a two-high safety team. We’re multiple up-front, so we can do it in a three-down and a four-down, walk the outside backer down. We try to send some pressure, but right now, I think we’re defensively, our mentality is bend, don’t break.

“And I know the last two weeks doesn’t look like that, but that’s kind of how we operate.”

The offense for Reynolds has been a problem since it upset Mount Tabor 29-28 on Sept. 22. It lost to Parkland 28-27, Glenn 54-16, and East Forsyth 52-0. Reynolds, which runs an Air Raid offense, is led by quarterback Tommy Elrod, a 6-2, 165-pound sophomore.

“We do like to throw the ball around, but that’s not how we’re going to try and win football games,” Davidyock said. “We’re going to do what’s best for our team. We can run the football. Really, it’s just about spreading teams out, finding mismatches, exploiting numbers, angles and grass throughout the entire field, and just letting the signal-caller kind of manage the football game and deliver the ball — you want to find a balance with your receivers and your run and your pass ratio.”

The Titans know that the Demons are struggling.

“I think they’re young overall,” Wallace said of the Demons. “And I think they’re making some mistake, blowing some coverages defensively…So, I think it’s a learning progression for them this year with how many young kids, you know, new students that are coming in that are brand new to what they’ve done.”

West Forsyth also can’t overlook Reynolds as it prepares for what they hope is playing for a conference championship next week against East Forsyth.

“We can’t think about being cautious,” Wallace said. “We’ve got to play as hard and as physical as we can.”