West cruises past Mount Tabor in conference opener
By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier
The opening of the Central Piedmont 4-A football schedule is always emotional, but this past Friday night at Jerry Peoples Stadium when Mount Tabor played at West Forsyth, it had even more meaning.
It was the return of Coach Adrian Snow of West Forsyth, who returned for his first home game since he returned to the sideline as coach two weeks after returning after a battle with COVID-19. Jevante Long rushed for 204 yards and West Forsyth dominated the second half as it cruised to a 36-14 win.
Snow was filled with emotion after the game.
“This is home,” he said. “I’ve been here 13 years and I don’t know nothing different. I love this place. I love our kids. I love our coaches. I love our community. It’s just different, and I’m not taking away from any place else. But this place is different, and I love it, and hopefully will be here for a while.”
Not only was Snow and West Forsyth going through its own emotions, Mount Tabor was too. On Sept. 1, a 15-year-old student was shot in the school and subsequently died. It was just the second game the Spartans have played since the incident. It was also the return of Mount Tabor to the conference after playing for the last four year in the Piedmont Triad 3-A, and won the NCHSAA Class 3-AA state championship this past spring.
“I think it was helping who we were playing,” Snow said. “Emotionally, I talked to our kids before the game. We had to try to stay as even-keel as we could. I know they were going be real excited to play, as well as their guys were too.”
West Forsyth (3-1, 1-0) played the first two weeks without Snow — wins against Asheville Reynolds and Oak Grove. West Forsyth lost on Sept. 3 at Weddington, and had the week off before the Mount Tabor (2-2, 0-1) game.
“I think it was really good for us to play them coming off the open week because it really wasn’t something we really had to worry about,” Snow said. “Because sometimes we don’t know who we’re playing, we’re playing a nonconference (game), we’re coming in and it’s real, and there ain’t nothing you can do. You’ve got to get, you’ve got to get ready. So, I felt that was great. And our kids did a good job controlling themselves emotionally, for the most part.
“But they did a really good job against a really good football team.”
Despite the 22-point margin of victory, it was far from easy. The Spartans took the opening kickoff and went on a 13-play, 80-yard drive, and Noah Marshall scored on a 1-yard run with 7:19 left in the first quarter to help take a 7-0 lead.
Marshall is the son of Laymarr Marshall, who was the head coach at Mount Tabor from 2008-16 before leaving to become the running backs coach at Davidson. Laymarr Marshall left Davidson and became the head coach at Parkland. After one season at Parkland, Laymarr Marshall came back to Mount Tabor as the offensive coordinator alongside Head Coach Tiesuan Brown, who was Laymarr Marshall’s defensive coordinator when he was the head coach.
Two possessions later, the Titans answered. Long scored on a 1-yard run with 1:45 left in the first quarter to help knot the game at 7-7.
“They came in thinking they were going to do us dirty because they got a little ring or something,” Long said. “But this ain’t 3-A no more, bruh. We came after ’em. The defense was on the field first before the offense. So, we came out to play the rest of the game. We started off slow, but we finished when we needed to.”
On the ensuing possession, the Spartans scored again after a 10-play, 80-yard drive after Noah Marshall scored on a 2-yard run with 9:54 left to help take a 14-7 lead.
Mount Tabor had first-and-goal on the 10, but a holding penalty pushed it back to the 24, and three plays later, place-kicker Eliott Trinh of Mount Tabor missed a 37-yard field-goal attempt with 2:35 left in the second quarter.
“That was big because they were rocking and rolling there and we kind of knocked them back,” Snow said. “They had the momentum. They were rolling pretty good offensively. They were putting it away. And we bowed our backs, which is great, and they missed a field goal. That kid’s a good player, no doubt about it — the field-goal kicker.
West Forsyth took possession from its own 20 and scored 11 plays later after Mack David scored on a 2-yard run with 13.6 seconds left in the first half to help tie it at 14-14.
“We put together a good drive and tied it up,” Snow said. “They made it look before halftime, and then it was on.”
The momentum the Titans took late in the first half carried over to the second half. The Titans took the opening kickoff of the second half and scored seven plays later after quarterback Chris Van Kleeck scored on a 22-yard run with 9:47 left in the third quarter to give the Titans a 20-14 lead. Van Kleeck finished with 101 yards rushing on 11 carries.
“We overcame a lot of adversity,” Brown said. “In that first half, we’ve got to make them points count. I felt like we left 14 points on the board. And we came out in the second half, and them guys decided to just run the ball straight down our throat. That’s pretty much what they did. But we will improve.”
The Spartans wore down in the second half and could never reestablish momentum.
“We scored on our first drive and they didn’t score any in the second, I mean in the whole second half, which is big,” Snow said. “What an unbelievable goal-line stand (at the end of the first half). I mean they were down on the 1 or the 2 with a big back and those big ole jokers they’ve got up front.”
Long scored on a 16-yard touchdown run with 2:09 left in the third quarter to help extend West Forsyth’s lead to 27-14. He finished with 204 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns.
Long said that he promised the offensive linemen that he would do something special for them.
“In practice (last Monday), I told them, i say, ‘If y’all give me 200-plus (yards) this week with two touchdowns then I would buy everybody who plays offensive line some pizza. Hot and fresh on (this past) Monday after practice.”
Quarterback Semaj Reaves Smith of Mount Tabor threw a pass in the West Forsyth end zone that was intercepted by Isaiah Kimbrough. Kimbrough ran it back to the 16-yard-line, and 15 yards were tacked on after a late hit out-of-bounds by Mount Tabor. Three plays later, Mack David blazed for a 62-yard touchdown run with 8:10 left in the fourth quarter to help extend the lead to 33-14.
“We were trying to do a good job of getting going,” Snow said. “And we wanted to tempo them a little bit because we felt like that would help us. Because they’re big guys, and that was something that was good for us. And we felt like if we keep laying on them, keep laying on them then we would get what we need.”
David, who also plays linebacker, rushed for 152 yards on 11 carries.
“These jokers, these recruiters, I struggle with them daily,” Snow said. “I mean the dude, he’s a baller. Call it what you want to, he can flat-out play. And the great thing about him, is he’s such a great kid. Like, he’s just awesome. He can play. He’s a great teammate, and our guys love him.”
Alejandro Morillon tacked on a 38-yard field goal with 5:32 left in the first quarter to give West Forsyth a 36-14 lead.
West Forsyth finished with 456 yards rushing on 50 carries. West Forsyth also outgained Mount Tabor 471-306.
“I just think when we came back out here (in the second half) I just feel like our momentum went up because we don’t want to lose to no Mount Tabor,” Long said. “We don’t want to hear for the next three months that they came over here to our village and beat us. So, we came into the locker room when it was tie game, we went out there with the objective to win the game. We went out there and did that.”
West Forsyth will travel Friday night to Deaton-Thompson Stadium to play Parkland. Parkland (1-3, 0-1) and second-year Coach Derek Bryant have really struggled through the first four games of this season. Parkland has been outscored 102-21, including losing last Friday 63-0 to Glenn in its conference opener in Kernersville.
In contrast, West Forsyth has outscored its opponents 117-60.
“It’s about getting better,” Snow said. “We’re trying go 1-0 at the end of next week, we do a job, and hopefully we’ll keep going.”