No stumbling block: West Forsyth throttles Reynolds 54-14; sets sights on conference championship next week against East Forsyth
Published 8:00 pm Friday, October 20, 2023
By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier
West Forsyth’s football game Thursday night against struggling Reynolds at Deaton-Thompson Stadium could’ve been seen as a trap game.
West Forsyth just needed to win to play at home next week against East Forsyth in the regular-season finale to win the Central Piedmont 4-A championship. Mission accomplished.
The Titans piled up 618 total yards, including 302 yards on 12-of-18 passing from Bert Rice, and cruised past the Demons 54-14.
The only real struggle the Titans (7-2, 5-1) had was on the Demons’ (2-7, 1-5) opening drive. The Demons drove to the Titans’ 34-yard line, but Josh Norris’ 34-field-goal attempt was blocked.
“We were OK,” Coach Kevin Wallace of West Forsyth said. “I think defensively, we’ve got to lock in. I think some of our kids were too fixated on it being a Pink Game (Cancer Awareness) for us, and we had some issues with that. Some kids have to focus more on practice because it showed out here on the field, but we started making plays when we had to.”
The Titans took momentum after the blocked kick and scored on the ensuing drive after Caman Chaplin marched in for a 1-yard touchdown with 8:16 left in the first quarter. Hunter Cruise tacked on a two-point run to extend the lead to 8-0.
“(The Pink Game is) huge,” Wallace said. “I mean, we have kids with parents who had breast cancer, you know, we’ve had people in the school with it. I kind of look at it as it’s not just for breast cancer. I think it’s for all cancer. My dad died of pancreatic cancer, so it’s kind of like one of those things – so it affects a lot of people.
“I think we did it respectfully and didn’t make it a whole thing. It becomes more about the fit than what it really means. That’s what we talked to them about in the beginning, that we’re not about what it looks like out here, we’re about what the meaning is behind it, and make sure you understand what you’re doing it for.”
Reynolds took the ensuing kickoff after Chaplin’s touchdown, but Davion Eldridge intercepted quarterback Amarion McClure at the Reynolds 38-yard line and ran it back to the 27 with 7:15 left in the first quarter.
Chaplin scored on a 1-yard run with 5:07 left to help push the lead to 14-0.
“I told the kids after the game, I don’t think the score tells the story,” Coach Joe Davidyock of the Demons said. “I think they fought very, very, very hard. We just made some critical mistakes in critical moments. We also made critical plays in critical moments. It’s just, we’re getting better as a football team day by day. We’re fighting together, and that’s really all I ask for.”
With 1:38 left in the first quarter, the Titans scored again after Rice threw a 67-yard pass to Darell Paige to extend the lead to 20-0, but Rice’s run for two points failed.
“I guess we just had to get going offensively, see one big play going,” Rice said. “Once that happened, we were moving from there.”
Wallace is pleased with how Rice has progressed throughout the season.
“Even when he misses stuff, we see it on film on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday or whatever day it is, and he sees it,” Wallace said. “And he’s like, ‘OK, now I understand it.’ And I think he feels confident with some of the stuff we’re doing, and it’s starting to click with some of the receivers now again.”
The Titans scored again after Chaplin galloped in for a 24-yard touchdown run with 10:22 left in the second quarter, but Rice’s pass for two points failed to keep it 26-0.
Chaplin finished with 100 yards rushing on 10 carries with three touchdowns.
“Just taking the pressure off Caman, my job is pretty easy,” Rice said. “He does most of it, so it’s pretty easy for me.”
West Forsyth took possession with 7:39 left in the second quarter and scored 13 plays later after TJ Fergus scored on a 1-yard run with 1:20 remaining to help extend the lead to 33-0.
“They’re a great football team, and I knew they would come in and try to score some points,” Davidyock said. “And I don’t blame them. But we’ve got to do a better job of keeping points off the board, and that’s my job.”
Reynolds did take the ensuing possession and drove the ball down the field, but Norris’ 31-yard field-goal attempt fell just short.
Needing just nine points for a 42-point lead, which is the starting point for a running clock in the second halves of high school games, that was discussed at halftime by West Forsyth.
“I think in high school, you don’t pull off until you get to 42,” Wallace said. “You know, it’s kind of an unsaid rule of football coaches, you know. So, we had to get to 42 to get it right. We wanted to get out of this healthy.”
There was just one problem with trying to get to 42 points — Reynolds kept fighting. Fergus fumbled, and Reynolds recovered at the West Forsyth 22 with 10:42 left. Reynolds capitalized and scored on a 9-yard pass from Tommy Elrod to Joe Crowley. The run for two points failed to keep it 33-6 with 8:48 left in the third quarter.
“We expect him to hold on to the ball all the time, so things never make me happy,” Wallace said. “And they never make Coach Ferg happy either. And so, he needs to secure the football all the time because people are going to be going after it, especially when you’re up by 33. People are looking for turnovers and stealing possessions.”
Fergus responded and scored on a 1-yard run with 6 minutes remaining to extend the lead to 40-6. Fergus scored again on a 1-yard run just before the end of the third quarter, and Fergus added a two-point conversion run to make it 48-6, sending it to a running clock. Fergus finished with 145 yards rushing on 16 carries and three touchdowns.
“I think (Fergus) needs to pay attention to the details, the little things that matter and squeezing the ball at all times in traffic,” Wallace said. “And he did it for the rest of the game.”
Crowley scored for the Demons to help trim the lead to 48-14, but Dayvid Dempsey scored for the Titans on a 47-yard run to make it 54-14. The Titans finished with 316 yards rushing on 32 carries.
East Forsyth (8-1, 5-1) defeated Glenn 42-12 on Thursday night, setting up a winner-take-all game for the championship next week between West Forsyth and East Forsyth at Jerry Peoples Stadium in Clemmons.
“We just had to get through this game to get to next week,” Rice said. “Focusing in on this game. But not we’ve just got to have a great week of practice, watch film (Friday), move on to East.”