OAKWOOD — Ben Emert ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns, and five different West Forsyth players scored Friday night in the Wolverines’ 42-14 victory over home-standing West Hall in the season finale for both squads.
The Wolverines (6-4, 3-2 Region 7B-AAA) rushed for 340 yards and five touchdowns. Tyler Lott also had an 83-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half and finished with 115 total yards.
Three Wolverines each rushed for 79 yards or more.
"We came in with the mindset of running the ball," said Emert, a senior. "One of the things we wanted to do was spread it around to all our backs and see what they could do."
The Spartans (0-10, 0-5) can reflect on a season that saw them in position late to win on multiple occasions. But, as West Hall senior Ishmail Nuckles pointed out, there’s more to the game than numbers.
"These things happen," said Nuckles, one of 12 West Hall seniors in the lineup. "We always came out and played our hearts out. Sure, it’s a little disappointing to end with a losing record. But in the end we all had fun playing together. That’s what it’s about."
The game turned heavily in West Forsyth’s favor in the second quarter. Behind 170 yards on the ground and four scores, the Wolverines led 30-0 at halftime. Ben Emert scored from 15 and 16 yards out, Colton Cloud had a 10-yard run and West Forsyth picked up a safety when West Hall kicked a fumbled snap out of the end zone.
West Forsyth piled up huge chunks of yards almost at will early with 12 plays of more than 10 yards in the first two quarters. Not surprisingly, all were on the ground.
"We had that in mind," West Forsyth coach Frank Hepler said. "We knew West Hall was down a little this year and we wanted to get off to a strong start. We ran about as well as we have all year, especially since we’re still thinking about the close loss to Flowery Branch (54-51 on Oct. 23). We would be getting ready for the playoffs, but hopefully that will be for next year."
On the flip side, the Spartans couldn’t do much offensively early. They gained 40 yards in the first half and were held to minus-4 rushing.
Following Lott’s score off the second-half kickoff, Blake Roberts ran in from 2 yards to close the scoring for West Forsyth.
"They did what we expected," West Hall coach Mike Newton said. "Overall we’re pretty undersized. We need to work on our strength our speed to help our guys create separation and play with the other teams in the region."
West Hall did give its fans a look at what might be coming next season. Shunquez Stephens and Brandon Fuqua, both juniors, teamed for a pair of catch-and-run scores in the fourth quarter. The first was a 15-yard strike, and the pairing capped off the scoring with a 51-yard connection.
"We need leadership on next year’s team and hopefully guys like us can provide it," said Fuqua, the team’s leading receiver with six catches for 90 yards. "We all have to keep working hard to get stronger and faster. That’s what we need to compete."
A solid group of Spartans are set to return next year, especially at the skill positions. Both sides of the line should be considerably stronger if Newton has his way.
"Things look very good next year. But they’ll be spending a lot of time in the weight room," he said. "We had a chance to win three times where we had the ball in our hands at the end but couldn’t get it done. That experience will pay off for our kids next year."