CUMMING — West Forsyth got off to a slow start Friday, but once the ball started rolling, the Wolverines quickly removed all doubt.
With Ben Emert leading the way on homecoming night, the Wolverines broke open a scoreless tie after one quarter to bury East Hall 41-6 in the subregion opener for both teams.
West coach Frank Hepler said his team’s sluggish start, starting the game with a turnover on downs at the Vikings’ 32 followed by a punt on their second possession, showed the team was rusty after getting only one full practice day in Wednesday.
Monday’s heavy rain followed by school closures on Tuesday kept the Wolverines (3-2 overall, 1-0 Region 7B-AAA) off the field until the middle of the week.
"I told them tonight we were put in a situation by not being allowed to practice that we came out behind. Even though we weren’t behind on the scoreboard, I told them we had to play that way, because we missed those days of practice," Hepler said.
"We were a little rough in the beginning but it’s from not being on the field for a couple days, but it just got better and better and better as we went along."
For Wolverine fans, the game definitely got better as it went along.
The Wolverines started their third possession at their own 45 following an East Hall punt, covering the intervening distance in 14 plays. Emert (130 yards, four touchdowns) clawed out 5 yards for the score, after picking up 3 yards on fourth-and-1 a play earlier.
A missed 2-point conversion left things 6-0 with 10:15 left before halftime, but the home team tacked on two more scores before the break.
Garrett Morin blocked an East Hall punt halfway through the second period, with Taylor Trupia returning the ball to the Vikings’ 13.
West quarterback Cole Carter fed the ball to Emert on three straight plays from there, with the series ending in a 7-yard scoring run.
East Hall (0-5, 0-1) lost a fumble on their first play of the ensuing possession, putting the Wolverines back in business at the opposing 28. After a penalty backed West up to the 31, a big 30-yard completion from Carter to Daniel McDowell set Emert up for his third score, a 1-yard run.
The lost fumble setting up that series was one of three for the Vikings, along with one interception.
West came out of the locker room with a 20-0 lead and quickly delivered the finishing blow. On just the third play of the second half, Emert ran straight ahead through a hole and went 66 yards for the score.
East Hall coach Bryan Gray said his undermanned squad just didn’t have the legs to keep up with the Wolverines.
"You know, we’ve only got one unit ... and it got to the point where we started getting so cramped up and injured, we couldn’t (hang with them). We just ran out of bodies," Gray said.
"They’re just so big and physical, they’ve got so many kids. But our kids played as hard as they possibly could. We’ve just got to fix some mistakes on the turnovers and our offense will get going."
West added two more scores in the third period, on a 15-yard run from Ethan Shirley and a 29-yard scramble by Xavier Reed on his only carry of the game.
East Hall avoided the shutout with an impressive 99-yard drive that ate up most of a running-clock fourth quarter. The 14-play drive was capped off with an 8-yard scoring run from Chaz Cheeks.
For West Forsyth, it was a nice start to subregion play with a trip to Gainesville, the top team in the state, looming on Friday.
"The top two go (to the playoffs), so getting one win, that’s the first step. We’ve got a really tough one with Gainesville and with our team right now, they’re all going to be tough, so we’ve just got to keep working and getting better and I think we’ve got a good shot at it," Hepler said.