The heat is on: West Forsyth football starts summer workouts as coach prepares for second season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 20, 2024

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By Jay Spivey

For the Clemmons Courier

CLEMMONS — West Forsyth doesn’t play its first football game until Aug. 23, but June 10 was a special day for football players across North Carolina.

Although teams have been having workouts and weightlifting since January, teams could officially start summer workout last Monday, just two days after graduation.  

So, West Forsyth hit the grindstone hard last week as it had five days of team activities, including a 7-on-7 jamboree at West Forsyth last Saturday after having last Friday off.  

“I think we need to get in playing shape, you know. We want to continue our strength. We want to go into more of an explosive part where we look where we look at more, not so much where we’re trying to put more size on before,” said Kevin Wallace, who’s set to begin his second season as the head coach of the Titans. “You know, cut down on getting in the weight room a little bit more. You’ve got to balance it out between outside and inside.” 

There is something else Wallace was intent on working on last week. 

“We start getting more and more into skill-development based install, so we can get a really head start to when we start on, officially on July 31,” he said.  

Last week was hectic for the Titans, who finished 8-4 last year, despite working out for the better part of the past six months.  

“(Last) week is just crazy because we went and hour and a half for three days. We were outside for about 45 minutes to an hour. We lifted for about a half-hour,” Wallace said. “So, it’s not like our formal summer workout.  

“We brought the freshmen in separately and we really slow it down for them. So, we bring the freshmen in at night for an hour and a half where we slow down the teaching, make sure all the paperwork is done, run some 40s. ‘Hey, this is the position you’re playing. This is what it’s called.’ Because when they come in (this past Monday) it is full on. We just go because the time restraints and stuff like that, and we’ve got to get people going and then figure out who the Friday night players, Thursday night players. And who’s going to step up and who’s going to get the job done and who can’t.” 

Not only did West Forsyth have a 7-on-7 Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp with a number of teams this past Saturday, it also played 7-on-7 against a number of teams at the North Carolina team camp last Thursday in Chapel Hill. 

“The first week is usually the hardest, at least on the coaches because we’ve got to do everything,” Wallace said. “We have split sessions with our players, we have 7-on-7s, we have our youth camp. The first week is a long week. But once we get going, (this week) we’ll have our normal schedule. We’ll be three hours.  

“We have a lifting part, usually a running part, and we’ll be on the field and getting good reps in.” 

Part of starting his second season as head coach, Wallace has a chance to see how some things worked last year and how some things didn’t work last year. 

“We’re going to change up a little bit this year to get more team stuff in during the summer,” he said. “I think for us, get acclimated to the heat, you know, with helmets, shoulder pads and stuff like that. We ran into a decent amount of issues last year of just being acclimated to the heat and stuff like that. Nothing serious but cramping and stuff like that.” 

As of now, Wallace said the Titans have 36 freshmen. That will be needed because they lost 26 players to graduation, of which Wallace said 13 were key contributors. He said that there are 16 seniors for this season, as well as 35 juniors, and 25 sophomores.  

“It’s always ebbs and flows like that, I’ve always seen,” Wallace said. 

Of those returning, four are back from the offensive line, Darrell Paige will be playing slot receiver and Hunter Cruise will play outside receiver. 

“We really return a tight end, a slot and one outside kid,” Wallace said. “So, we’re missing one outside-receiver spot. So, three out of the four skilled kids on the perimeter return so we can – once they, they had to grasp the offense last year, and once they grasp it, now they learn, ‘There’s not so much, oh, I run a slant, this play I run a curl or whatever.’” 

Wallace is an offensive-minded head coach. 

“They see the whole picture of it, so now we can rearrange formations and they can run routes, so we get more matchup-based stuff,” he said. And I think that’s the step we’re looking to make this year that, ‘Hey, you’re not always going to be the second slot or the outside on the right.’ We can move you around once you grasp the offense and we can start doing some things where you can get different touches and run different routes on different people and stuff like that.” 

One huge hole West Forsyth will have to fill is the loss of running back Caman Chaplin, who graduated after being named the Central Piedmont 4-A Offensive Players of the Year. Now playing at Fayetteville State, Chaplin played in 11 of the 12 games last year for West Forsyth, played in 11 of the 12 games, and he finished with 2,255 yards rushing on 249 carries with 31 touchdowns. In addition, he had 27 catches for 341 yards and two touchdowns.   

Wallace said C.J. Blevins, who transferred from Southwest Guilford, is slotted to replace Chaplin at running back.  

“(Blevins is) explosive, great personality, great attitude when he’s out there,” Wallace said. “He’s a competitor, but not, he enjoys competing. And he brings up teammates around him, which is huge.” 

In addition, West Forsyth will have to replace quarterback Bert Rice, who also graduated. 

“That’s a question right now,” Wallace said. “Right now, Riley Horton is coming. They’re looking into it. He’s got to get cleared right now. Jerrell Crawford (from Glenn) came in about January, end of the semester. So, those are the two who are competing for it right now.” 

As for this week, Wallace said they’re practicing from 8 a.m.-11 a.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, there will be a regular morning practice, plus there will be a 7-on-7 from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. 

“We evaluated, you know, last year was a real basic plan,” Wallace said. “Now this year, we’re really evaluating what we had to do and what we had to change.