WEDNESDAY WANDERINGS – Thoughts from the Golden Armchair

We hope everybody enjoyed their Fall Break. It certainly comes at a good tome for local football teams, who have had a variety of injuries and letdowns to overcome. The week off gives our young men, et al, the opportunity to shore it up and jump into region play. Except for Denmark. Due to scheduling conflicts for the new kids on the block, Denmark was forced to play last Friday night. Perhaps the break from routine with school out had something to do with the on-field performance. Or they met a pretty good football team. Regardless, the 4-2 Danes, who have been averaging 400 yards a game, with 315 of that through the air, pretty much matched those stats. The defense, however, did a turnabout in allowing a 1-4 West Hall team to put 48 points on the board in suffering only their second loss in school history. They’d better get back in the routine with school restarting. They’ll need that balance as Region leader and defending 4A state champ Blessed Trinity comes to Mullinax Rd. Friday night. For comparison, Blessed Trinity beat West Hall two weeks ago 45-3.

The darling of the first half of the season has to be Forsyth Central. The Bulldogs are 4-1 for the first time in a couple decades, and the option attack has teams looking at old film of Oklahoma and Nebraska trying to get a handle. While Central is receiving criticism and doubt from some circles, including our local fish wrapper, for the opponents they’ve faced, the turnaround has much merit. Anybody going 4-1 coming off a winless season has found some new water in the cooler. They’re averaging 350 yards of offense a game, 315 of it on the ground, with a region leading 24 touchdowns. Devran Olson is the leading rusher with 363 yards, but there are 7 other Bulldogs contributing over 100 yards rushing! That includes quarterback Ryan Van Uum, who sports the second highest total with 200. The 24 touchdowns are spread among 10 different players.
The Bulldogs travel to Raider Valley this week to take on North Forsyth. North’s 2-3 record is disappointing to a community with such high hopes each year. The Raiders are not offensively challenged, earning 380 yards a game. But turnovers and an average qb rating under 40 makes them one-dimensional. They have 17 tds on the ground but only 2 through the air. The defense, meanwhile, gives up 150 yards a game on the ground. That’s where Central lives. If they can’t stop the run they’ll be in for a long night.

Milton was looking like a contender after the first three games, including a win over Archer in their opener. But a loss to rival Roswell at Roswell took the wind out of their sales a little bit, and then they met up with Parkview. The Panthers went down to South Georgia last month in back to back weeks and beat perennial powers Lowndes and Tift County. The Eagles played Parkview straight up (the 37-35 score was admirable) but the loss drops the Eagles out of the Top Ten. They should have enough fire power to take care of West Forsyth at home this week The Wolverines stand at 1-4 after their super ambitious out of region schedule, and maybe a little weary. They’re a team struggling to find itself. Like North Forsyth, the Wolverines do well when they can run the ball. It’s when they need to throw it a bit that they run into trouble. Behind leading rushers Stephon Bland and QB Blake Whitfield they average 150 yards a game. But it’s only 87 through the air with a sub 50 QBR. The gleam of this rivalry, based on the defection of former West coach Adam Clack bolting to Milton, has lost a bit of luster over time. The Wolverines will have to find something to hang their hats on if they want to get fired up enough to upset the Eagles on the road.

And then there’s the Backyard Rivalry. 3-2 South Forsyth travels next door to take on 3-2 Lambert. There they’ll meet up with one of the standouts of the first half of the season, Longhorn Defensive End Gallil Guillaume. The Senior has 10.5 sacks on the season, a stat that could well effect South’s game plan, which has been throttled by sacks all season. Guillaume also has three touchdowns, including a fumble return. Offensively, Lambert averages nearly 300 yards a game. The ground force is led by Senior Jake Rising and Sophomore Zach Ogbogu, who’ve piled up 600 yards between them. When it’s time to throw, new starter Peyton Rich is steady but pick prone. The junior has tossed for more than 800 yards with 8 touchdowns…but 9 picks. South’s defense should be up to the task. They picked opposing quarterbacks twice but have 15.5 sacks. When you watch the
War Eagles defense play, the first thing you notice is the number of players making plays. They come from everywhere, led by Senior Captains Jamaal Camp and Luis Gonzalez. Andrew Hill, CJ Ford and Jax Weaver are among the team’s leading tacklers. Offensively, the War Eagles have been hurt by the injury to Junior Running Back Jordan Brunson. He looked pretty solid in the War Eagles loss to a top ten Hillgrove squad, so the week off should help him and his team. He’s missed roughly a game and a half and still leads the team in rushing. Senior quarterback Drew Morris has the arm but has been harassed too often behind a young offensive line. He’s thrown for 5 touchdowns and five interceptions. This game has all the makings of a classic. Solid defenses square up against inconsistent offenses. Intensity should be equal in spite of the Longhorns home field advantage. If it’s tight, and field position becomes a factor late, it might set the stage for an unsung South Forsyth hero, punter William Botta. He’s snagged errant snaps and turned them into 60 yard bombs, kept teams from recovering other bad snaps in the end zone, and hung the ball up so coverage could get right on the return man. Like any coach worth a dang will tell you, a good punter is a weapon. Botta could well be a difference maker in this intense rivalry.
We’ll have this game for you LIVE on, Friday night at 7. Be sure to log on for all the excitement of Georgia Class 7A Region 5 Football!

Finally, as difficult a topic as it is to talk about,  I don’t think I can close the blog this week without mentioning 16 year old Dylan Thomas.  Playing defense Friday night for Pike County High, down in Zebulon, Dylan came off the field after taking a shot to the head.  On the sideline, his left arm and leg became numb, and he collapsed.  He was airlifted to Grady Hospital downtown, where he underwent surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.  Sadly, Dylan passed away shortly after.  Some will argue it was an accident, others will say it was destiny.  All will agree that football, as beautiful and graceful as it can be, is at its core a violent game.  Our family will pray for Dylan, his parents, the Thomas family, and the community around Pike County High.  We’ll also offer up a prayer of protection for all the young men and women in our county playing a game that’s easy to love but can turn on you in an instant.  Have fun, and use the proper techniques you’ve been taught to play safe.

As always, thanks for joining us on Forsyth Sports 365!