West Forsyth’s football season ends Friday night with second-round playoff loss at Matthews Butler

Published 9:08 pm Saturday, November 11, 2023

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By Jay Spivey

For the Clemmons Courier

West Forsyth knew it had a tough task at hand this past Friday night when it traveled to Matthews to face Butler in the second round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A football playoffs.

That turned out to be the case, but it took more than a quarter for that to have happened, as No. 6 Butler powered past No. 11 West Forsyth 47-7, ending West Forsyth’s season.

“I tried to tell the kids after the season, like, ‘Don’t let one game really define what the season was,” said first-year Coach Kevin Wallace. “You know, with everything they’ve put in and everything they’ve gotten out of it, especially for seniors coming off two hard years and then finishing up with a really good year.”

The Titans finished 8-4.

“From top down, it’s been a great year for year going 8-4 and having some big games, you know, having some opportunities to play in some really big games, which they haven’t done the last couple years,” Wallace said. “And it was great. It was great for them, it’s great for the program, it’s great for the first step, the first year, and to build off (the year).”

Butler (11-1), which will play host to Mount Tabor (8-4) next week in the third round, is just another team West Forsyth played in a tough schedule.

“That’s always the thing people are concerned about is traveling in the playoffs,” Wallace said. “Playing teams, when you play some of the Charlotte teams, which (we) do, I think our kids now can see that they can step up to them. It’s just we’ve got to — I think we’ve just got to preach to them to not beat ourselves because that’s happened to them this year. I’m not saying they’re not good. There are things we needed to do in that game last night so that they didn’t have a chance to open it up. And we just didn’t — we kind of beat ourselves at times.”

Despite the lopsided score, West Forsyth took a 7-0 lead with the help of a rushing touchdown by Caman Chaplin late in the first quarter.

“I thought we were starting to click there,” Wallace said. “And they came out, and they hit an explosive play, or I think two explosive plays for a touchdown real quick.”

It proved to be the lone score of the game for the Titans.

“I think that one of our Achilles’ heels this year is that if we did too well too often, our kids kind of got complacent,” Wallace said. “… It’s another series. It’s another play. It’s another possession when we needed to keep going. So, that’s something we’ll build on.

“I think when we start reflecting and evaluating the things that we did good, we did bad, what we need to change, this will come up in the next couple weeks before Christmas and stuff like that and get evaluation and stuff like that.”

The Bulldogs quickly answered with a touchdown from running back Jayden Williams to help make it 7-6, but the Bulldogs missed the point-after kick.

Late in the second quarter, quarterback Zachary Lawrence of the Bulldogs scored on a rushing touchdown to help take a 13-7 lead.
Quarterback Bert Rice of the Titans was intercepted by Phillip Harris at the Titans’ 35 and ran it back to the 30. Williams tacked on a touchdown run to help push the lead to 20-7.

“It was close until the last 21/2 minutes before half. We preach to our kids, the middle eight (minutes) is so vital – the last four minutes of the second quarter and the first four minutes of the third quarter – and we lost that,” Wallace said. “When they scored three touchdowns in the last 21/2 minutes before half – two turnovers and three touchdowns given up. We dug ourself into a hole that we needed to climb out.”

Things got worse for the Titans just before halftime. Chaplin fumbled, and the Bulldogs recovered. The Bulldogs capitalized with a touchdown pass from Lawrence to Keyshawn Barrino to help extend the lead to 27-7.

“That last 90 seconds – they scored to go up 13-7. We get the ball back. With 90 seconds, we had two timeouts. We were going into a two-minute scenario, and the first play we throw an interception. They go down and score in three plays,” Wallace said. “We get the ball back. Caman fumbles, they get the back, they go down and score. I mean it was like boom, boom, boom. I mean, I think we had two offensive plays and two turnovers.”

Trailing by 20 at halftime, West Forsyth still had plenty of time to pull out of the deficit.

“The thing I told them was there’s not one play that’s going to make that score even,” Wallace said. “So, we had to dig. We had to put together certain things and just keep trying to chop at them.”

Butler took the opening kickoff, and Wallace said that, on third-and-long, Lawrence threw a screen pass to Barrino, who broke loose for a touchdown to help push the lead to 34-7.

“That kind of took the sails out of us,” Wallace said. “So, they go up 34-7 a couple minutes into the third quarter.”

Williams tacked on another rushing touchdown late in the third quarter to make it 40-7, but Butler missed the extra-point kick.

“It’s so process-oriented, so process-focused in that play, you know, we had plays,” Wallace said. “We had a couple big drops. We had a couple big plays that we needed to hit. Everyone knows we were offensively focused around the run, but we had to throw the ball at times.

“And that’s where we ran into some issues with East (Forsyth) and stuff like that. And this game, too. I mean, we had some open throws that some kids dropped early on for touchdowns and some big explosive plays, and we needed to make those plays to give us self-confidence that hey, we’re going to throw it and run it and be successful, and we’re going to be able to execute. And we just didn’t get it done.”

The final touchdown for Butler came early in the fourth quarter after a pass from Lawrence to Dequadre Currence to help extend the lead to 47-7.

“It’s always sad,” Wallace said. “For seniors, sometimes it’s the last time they’re going to put on pads. Last game for some people. What I told them was that don’t let one game define what their season was. They’ve done a great job. All of the time that they’ve put in. Now it was time to reflect and enjoy the success that they had.”