FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — With a bevy of new faces on the sidelines, West Forsyth will sport a new look in 2019.
Last season’s squad, which compiled a 6-6 record and reached the second round of the playoffs, graduated 27 seniors. According to head coach Shawn Cahill, 21 of those 27 seniors started or were in the rotation for heavy playing time.
All of those spots need to be filled, and there aren’t as many seniors on the roster this year to step up.
“We’ve got some young players, whether they’re young in age or young in experience,” Cahill said. “I think we’re athletic. I think we got some really good kids, but it might take them some time to figure out the speed of the game going from a freshman or JV game last year to playing on Friday night.”
At quarterback, West Forsyth has two players with starting experience. Senior Blake Whitfield returns after suffering a season-ending injury early in the 2018 season. Junior Drew Southern, who finished the season at quarterback and compiled over 1,000 yards passing, will back up Whitfield again this season.
Protecting the quarterback will be an offensive line led by SEC-prospect Dylan Fairchild.
Offensive weapons include senior wide receiver Casey Cowart, who started every game at receiver for West Forsyth in 2018. Cahill also said sophomore Oscar Delp should compile receptions on offense and line up at safety for West’s defense.
The Wolverines have a strong returning linebacker duo in Jack Hughes and Eli Orr. Hughes was named the North Georgia Touchdown Club underclassmen of the year last season. Orr brings experience as a three-year starter, and he led the team in tackles (140) last season.
A question mark for West’s defense is its linemen and defensive backs. Cahill believes the secondary might not have a senior in the group, and the defensive line graduated seven seniors from 2018.
The 2019 schedule for West Forsyth looks a lot like it did a season ago. The opponents are identical, but the locations have been flipped.
This means the Wolverines open the season at home against Camden County before going on the road against Hewitt-Trussville (Ala.) and Roswell the next two weeks. They follow that up with Peachtree Ridge and McCallie (Tenn.) before opening region play with defending state champion Milton.
“We’re going to play some really experienced teams right out of the gate,” Cahill said.
West struggled to a 1-4 record against its non-region opponents last year with three losses coming by one score.
Despite his team’s youth and challenging schedule, Cahill is optimistic the group will develop in time and rival the success of last year’s team.
“They’re good kids,” Cahill said. “They’ve had a good offseason of working out. We feel like we’re faster than we were a year ago as a team. Now we just have to get some of those younger guys to play fast on Friday nights.”