East Forsyth is off to a flying start in junior varsity football. If the early portion of the 2012 schedule is an indication of things to come, Eagles followers are sure to suffer more than their share of anxious moments and sweaty palms as the season unfolds.
Coach Ronald Horton’s team is undefeated at 3-0. However, there is little margin for error. East Forsyth’s average margin of victory is a little over four points.
“We still haven’t been able to put together four quarters in a ball game,” Horton said. “But on the other hand, our kids do not quit and they continue to make enough plays for us to keep winning.”
A week ago, East Forsyth came perilously close to having its win streak snapped in a fiercely-contested road match-up against previously unbeaten Reagan. The Eagles appeared to have a firm handle on things in building a 28-13 lead by the end of the first half.
Deston Thornton and Blake Roberts scored on short runs and Karson Sharpe connected with Brian Gentry on a 61-yard touchdown pass. The East defense contributed to the scoring when safetyman Jeremiah Salley picked off a Reagan pass and ran it back 42 yards for a touchdown.
“Once I saw the ball in the air, I was able to close on it quickly and make the play,” said Salley. “I got to one side of the field and saw that I had a chance to get to the end zone. When I realized that the only person who had a chance to stop me from scoring was a lineman, I knew I could beat him.”
Reagan, in the meantime, managed to regroup and get back in contention in the second half. Quarterback Jake Easter scored on runs of 8 and 73 yards to close the gap, but the Raiders missed the PAT kick and trailed 28-27 with 3:24 left to play in the game.
East nearly imploded on its next offensive series. Reagan’s defense held steady and gave its offense some momentum when Rick Harrison partially blocked an Eagles’ punt.
The Raiders took over on the East Forsyth 36-yard line with a 1:04 to go. Easter reeled off a couple of runs to get his team closer. But on third down and long yardage, the Eagles sacked Easter. With less than 30 seconds left to play, Reagan attempted a 25-yard field goal, but the kick sailed wide right to preserve the one-point victory for East Forsyth.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it really doesn’t matter how it looks,” said Horton. “It’s still a win and I’ll take it. I’m proud of my guys and I give them all the credit. They kept working and they continued to believe. We talk all the time about dealing with adversity. During the course of a game, something negative usually happens. Our guys have figured out that instead of faltering in the face of pressure, they focus on answering the bell and doing what needs to be done to get the victory.”