GAINESVILLE — Gainesville High quarterback Justin Fordham is used to putting up gaudy numbers on Friday night.
The senior, who has passed for more than 300 yards in five out of nine games this season, led the Red Elephants to a 34-18 win against Johnson with a 23-for-28 night, passing for 301 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for a 3-yard touchdown.
To date, Fordham has accumulated 2,652 yards and 26 touchdowns.
"It was definitely a big win for us because they came (to City Park) and got us last year," Fordham said. "I think what made that win bigger is because if we would have lost that game, then we aren’t going to the playoffs.
"So actually, our playoffs have already started here. If we lose, we’re done."
Fordham credits the Red Elephants’ two standout receivers Tyler Adetona and Gerald Ford for part of his success this season.
"Those two guys help me out a lot," Fordham said with a smile. "There were a couple of times last week when I threw a ball that probably should have been intercepted, but Gerald (Ford) saved me and scored a touchdown. They are both so good after they catch the ball. They can easily turn a 10-yard pass into an 80-yard gain, so that really helps my total yardage."
According to Gainesville High coach Bruce Miller, Fordham’s ability to adapt to Gainesville’s newly implemented offensive system has done wonders for the Red Elephants.
"Justin has really studied the offense," Miller added. "It’s really hard on a kid to learn a new offense, especially when they are entering their senior season. He has just done really well, and he will definitely be sorely missed.
"He’s just a great competitor."
The two-year starter knows that he can’t overlook a much improved West Hall team this Friday.
"We just have to come out and play," Fordham said. "We have to make some plays, and they’ve been improving every week. They have some athletes over there that if you don’t contain and watch out for, they’ll sneak up on you."
Fordham hopes to finish his senior season with a splash.
"First off, I want to beat West Hall (this Friday) and make it to the playoffs," Fordham added. "And once you’re in the playoffs you’re 0-0. It all starts over. If we can make it to the playoffs and make some noise, then you never know what happens."
With a win at West Hall this Friday, the Red Elephants would lock up a position in the Class AAA state playoffs.
Gainesville has made the playoffs seven consecutive years.
Fordham, who is possibly Gainesville’s most effective passer in school history, wants people to remember him as more than just a talented athlete.
"I want to be remembered as a competitor and a winner," Fordham said. "And most of all, just a good guy."