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Myth Becomes Legend 2 – The 2018 East Forsyth State Champs – Part 2

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We pick up with the 2018 East Forsyth Eagles at the midway point of the Regular Season, the Eagles headed into a rivalry showdown with Greensboro Page for Week 6.

WEEK 6 – Page

East Forsyth started its revenge tour of the Triad with a game vs rival Page.

At this point, East Forsyth is clicking on all cylinders. The Page Pirates, former conference foes, are consistently considered one of the top rivals for East Forsyth over the years. East lost to Page the year prior during a 3 game losing streak to Page, West Forsyth and Glenn. This season, the Eagles looked to settle the score.

A super tight first half led to a 14-7 Eagles lead. The 2nd half led to an offensive explosion by East Forsyth to eventually pull away 42-14.

Mizell Hall – Wide Receiver – Senior

In the Page game, our team was playing well, but we didn’t come out how Coach Willert wanted. So we had to pick it up. During halftime, I remember I kept throwing up, and when we came back to the beginning of the 3rd quarter we were receiving the ball and I returned the kickoff back for a touchdown, and at that point I was feeling comfortable on every return, trying to return them.

Ahmani Marshall – Running Back – Junior

We saw Page as the best competition we would see in the regular season. The beginning of the game was slow, but came 2nd half we were on point!

Allen Plaster – Athletic Director

I remember we got off the a slow start and defensively we were not playing up to our normal standards in the first half. And when we went to halftime Page had some momentum. That momentum was taken back with the second half kick off return for a TD. The defense made some halftime adjustments and the Eagles went on the cruise to a victory against a very good Page team.

Kaleb Lundy – Inside Linebacker – Senior

East Forsyth LB Kaleb Lundy

The Page game was big just because they were ranked like #5 in the state and us a team felt as if we’ve prepared way harder than them and they honestly didn’t deserve that ranking.

Khalil Baker – Safety – Senior

The Page game was a game that nobody really said too much. During half time some of our guys were throwing up including Mizell Hall (13) I went over to him and said “get all that out we need you dog” sure enough they kicked the ball deep in the middle towards the 8 yard line. He started left and once he cut back to the right without being touched I knew a cold couldn’t catch that man. After the Page game we knew we were locked in and on a roll.

Todd Willert – Head Coach

No doubt Mizell returning the opening kickoff to start the 2nd half was HUGE. Also Ty Lyles had 2 plays he extended with his feet that really showed how special he could be. The one TD throw to Khalid where he avoided the rush then slipped and put his left hand down on ground to keep his balance and then throw a 35 yard rope was unbelievable.

Ty Lyles – Quarterback – Sophomore

Stories like the environment at Page was crazy and the game is going to be a good battle because Page is a great team. The game vs Page was hard fought and the kick return at the start of the 3rd quarter turned the heat up for the rest of the game. The game was a good timing point because it set a high standard for the conference play.

Aaron Beal – Defensive Coordinator

In my opinion one of the toughest places to play is the Eagle Nest, if you win a game there you’ve earned it. One the other toughest places to play in NC is Page. When that place is packed and the bands are playing its loud and tough to communicate. With that said…It’s really hard to go into Page like East and come out with a win. To come in and win with not just any win, but a major decisive win was really special… I think that winning on the road at a place like that sent a message to the rest of the area that the 2018 Eagles were a very special team. That was one special win now looking back on it.

WEEK 7 – West Forsyth

Another huge rival for the Eagles, especially over the past 7-8 years has been West Forsyth. Residing on the other side of Forsyth County in Clemmons, the two programs were almost mirror images of each other in terms of local success over the past few years. Coach Adrian Snow had built a program predicated on a strong rushing attach and punishing defense, similar to what Coach Willert had built at East Forsyth during the same period, creating a natural rivalry.

Fans were worried about a letdown, after expending so much energy the week prior vs Page. On the road, the Eagles would be tested in Clemmons, and would win the tightest game they had played up to this point, 16-10 over the Titans.

Khalil Baker

We knew the game from west was gonna be tougher because they were gonna lean on us with their O-line. We were missing a key piece on the D-line in Thomaz Johnson(99) who injured his hand in the previous week against Page. Every week we set goals like not letting them have over 75+ yards rushing a week if they were a run heavy team and no catches of over 10+ yards.

Aaron Beal – Defensive Coordinator

The West game, I really saw just how special this defense could be and what made it different from years past. It was on the last drive when West got the ball, 1st and basically goal to go. In the past I dont know if we could hold them 3 plays in a row. West is great inside the 20 yard line at scoring 6. When we held them to 3 then went on to win I knew that we had a special unit that had a bunch of fight in them.

Ty Lyles

It wasn’t a let down but we came out slow and West was ready to play. West is always a good team but the mistakes we made didn’t help us and made them look better at the time in the game. Defense goal is always to try to shut your team out. There never was really weaknesses in our defense.

Todd Willert – Head Coach

No let down at all. It’s just a big rivalry game and its always a battle when East and West meet. It was a game we needed to understand we needed to bring our A game every Friday night. But the defense really stepped up. It is so fun going up against West and Coach Snow. It is a Good Rivalry in the fact it is played in those 48 minutes and it is a HEATED game but after you are friends again for the next 364 days of the year.

Ahmani Marshall

We didn’t prepare for West Forsyth very well in my opinion. We made a lot of mistakes against them.

Mizell Hall

On our defense, I felt there were no weaknesses. The defense had a goal every game, to score themselves, and not let anyone score at all. So no let down the defense adjusted what they needed to adjust and did their thing

Allen Plaster – Athletic Director

Looking back at the whole season I think this might have been the turning point of the season, or the point where our kids really felt like no matter what the score was or how much time was remaining, we could win any game. This was an Ugly game. We really never got clicking on offense, the officiating was suspect but we didn’t help ourselves by creating any of our own breaks, but the defense played lights out. Micah Crowell had a very good stats game but our offense as a whole just never really clicked. The game was a grind and we were able to grind out the victory over a county and conference rival.

Kaleb Lundy

West wasn’t as much competition for us, but it was more us not being physically and mentally prepared for the game. Our goal on defense was for the offense to get us 3 or get us 7 and get out of the way so we can dominate. The only weakness I can say we had on defense was our lack of communication and that was rare.

courtesy Game of Inches HS – Logan Carter

WEEK 8 – Reagan

Week 8 saw a 48-19 beat down of Reagan. The Rushing attack for East Forsyth was running on all cylinders, amassing 308 yards on the ground in this game led by junior RB Ahmani Marshall’s 101 yards on only 9 carries and 3 touchdowns.

After the win the Eagles were now 8-0. Were any players starting to feel the pressure of the spotlight more as the season wound down?

Ty Lyles

Our running backs always come out running hard and moving the chains. Everyone on the field was ready for any challenge.

Allen Plaster – Athletic Director

We were able to get out on Reagan and take them out of their game plan early and they had to throw the ball more. Defensively we were able to pin our ears back and go after the quarterback. It helps when you have multiple backs that you can hand the ball to and they all are a little different, then you throw the quarterbacks runs in there to keep a defense honest and it is tough for a defensive to stop everybody. Honestly I am not at practice everyday but all the running backs seem to get along very well and don’t mind who gets the most yards.

Khalil Baker

Our run game worked so well because the running backs understood their role and made sure if they weren’t getting the ball they were blocking for their brother. You honestly couldn’t put a spot light on one player rather it was offense, special teams or defense. There was always a play to made and everyone on the field was capable.

Todd Willert – Head Coach

We call our 4 running backs the 4 Horsemen. They work so well together and block for each other. It is a special thing to see. These days its hard to find running backs willing to share carries and also to be a lead blocker. The guys just stayed focused on the BIG Goal and I really didn’t see any pressure setting in. They trusted each other so much and we were just having fun.

Ahmani Marshall

The spotlight put a chip on shoulder. We knew we were the best in the state.

Mizell Hall

The running backs had to be on it, we had about 5 running backs and they had lots of roles, from sealing the edges, taking on head to head blocks , read steps and all and our running backs would be switched sometimes. Just because we needed another back to do another job, so our backs were busy all year.

Kaleb Lundy

Our offensive backfield was extremely talented and young, so when one was tired, we had another workhorse coming right back in. Nobody ever felt pressured just because we knew this would happen just as long as we stayed focused and humble.

Week 9 – Glenn

Week 9 was a rivalry week game with crosstown rival Glenn. East won the game in a rout 43-7. This may have been one of the best performances of the year. What was the feeling around school and the locker room this week. Did Glenn hype the game up? Did you guys ever see Glenn players in Kernersville? Do you feel they were intimidated by East at this point of the season with you entering the game 8-0? Was there a sense of revenge from this game, West or Page since East had dropped all three contests the year prior?

Khalil Baker

It wasn’t really much trash talking, it was more of posting highlights from the previous years going against each other. I wasn’t really excited for the game until the coin toss when they didn’t shake our hands. After we turned and started back to our team to do our entrance we told our brothers what happened and you could feel the emotional shift from playful to serious in a snap. Chris Chaplin(3) took the opening kickoff back and we never looked back.

Mizell Hall

Glenn week was a really hype week for everyone, teachers, players, coaches, even the people in the stands were ready for this. We also see Glenn players around all the time. They said they were ready to play, our boys were just ready to play. And I feel they didnt come into the game really wanting to play, I wouldn’t say scared, I feel they just wasnt ready to play us. And YES we were seeking reveng for both teams, we did not want to let up at all.

Ty Lyles

East Forsyth QB Ty Lyles eludes a Glenn defender.

Glenn week is always fun and hardworking, because we lost the year before and that’s not normal for East so we knew that we owed them one so we came out hard and stepped to them.

Allen Plaster – Athletic Diretor

I think this game was more of a pay back game. The season before Glenn beat us for the first time in 10 years, and I think our kids wanted to start a new streak. On this night, we were clicking in all three phases of the game.

Ahmani Marshall

Glenn had beaten us the year before. But with the team we had, I don’t believe they thought they could play with us.

Todd Willert – Head Coach

No doubt, we wanted to avenge last years loss. It was just great to keep our winning going with a great home win. The players and for sure the fans always enjoy a win vs Glenn.

Aaron Beal – Defensive Coordinator

When it came to the Glenn game, I never had to say anything about focus. Every year the guys are locked in and ready to go. This season I saw an even more intense look. That opening series was just like every game against Page or against Tabor. High intensity and focus. I knew this team was special. I just wanted to put them in a position to play fast and physical and not try to coach or have them overthink.

Kaleb Lundy

Me being new to East, I never knew how serious they took this cross-town rivalry. Losing to Glenn in 2017 was a complete embarrassment according to Coach Willert and he made sure of it not happening this year.

Week 10 – Reynolds

In the Conference and Season finale, East beat Reynolds 52-21. This game meant that the Eagles had beaten every conference opponent by at least 2 touchdowns with the exception of West Forsyth, who may have taken the mantle of biggest rival from Page. How did it feel to win the conference and to do it by in the manner you guys did?

East Forsyth RB Robbin Smith emerged as a critical piece of HC Todd Willert’s punishing ground attack in 2018.

Allen Plaster – Athletic Director

Beating RJR and winning the conference title was big for the players. It meant a T-Shirt with Conference Champs on it and bragging rights around the Conference and County. Season #1 is complete and we reached our goal and now to prepare for Season #2. Back to the grind for coaches and players.

Khalil Baker

Winning the conference felt like ‘Ok we know this feeling’ and after the game I got my hands on the trophy. Me and Coach Jones (DB coach) were taking pictures, he told me “put it down we don’t care about that we want that big thing Bake”

Ahmani Marshall

It felt great! We were focused on getting a getting a ring now.

Ty Lyles

It felt good winning the way we did because no one could say it was close or we almost had y’all….they knew we won by a lot week to week.

Mizell Hall

It felt good to win conference but we wanted more than just winning that. Coach knew we could be a conference winning team but we ALL were looking further than conference…our goal was to go to States…

Todd Willert – Head Coach

It was great to win the conference title cause it was our first goal of the season. Also to be undefeated we knew that we would have home field advantage in the playoffs and it is hard for teams to come in and win at THE NEST!!!!

Aaron Beal – Defensive Coordinator

The biggest thing by the end of the season was keeping our guys focused on the end of the season and not looking ahead. They all seemed ready for the playoffs to start. So I felt I had to keep them locked in and not thinking to far ahead with all the outside people talking about potential playoff match ups etc. They once again proved they were special by finishing the season the way they did.

Kaleb Lundy

When we won conference you would’ve thought we won the Superbowl with the way I was acting. I’ve never been on a winning team, and for us to be on the roll we were, it felt surreal.

End of Regular Season – Were there any superstitions or weird routines players or coaches had as the win streak continued? Many teams that have a goal or rival tend to follow that team in the paper or on the scoreboard as the year goes on, to pace themselves. Did any of you guys keep up with any teams locally or in the state weekly during the year while you were winning?

Todd Willert – Head Coach

For the most part we were just focused. As the head coach, the biggest thing I wanted to do was keep everything the same as much as possible going into the playoffs. Keep the same routine. We were no doubt looking to see the road it would take to get to State Championship game, as coaches, once the playoff bracket came out. We did a lot of research and scouting on all the teams that we could possibly face.

One of the BIGGEST things that happened was we got Thomaz Johnson back our DT who was out , All Conference with a broken finger he got in the Page game. This really gave the team and coaching staff a big boost cause we all knew how special of a player Thomaz was. Bo Osborne had moved down to DT to fill in from his DE position and it was great to just have more depth on the D-Line to make this playoff run.

Mizell Hall

I had a lucky shirt I wore every game, and our last game I was going to cut my sleeves off of the lucky shit, but I didn’t. Some of the players told me not to because they knew it was my lucky shirt, and looking at teams as we played, the only time we looked at other teams is when we watched film that week.

Khalil Baker

Every Monday afternoon in film when we watch plays from the game, everyone knows a play in their head that they hope don’t make it on that big screen. Coach Jones will play your mistake about 10x, put it in slow motion and all, didn’t matter who you were. It’s not really a tradition, but to me it was and I hope he continues to do it because I promise it’s gonna make you want to limit your mistakes. I kept up with Tabor & Parkland the most, they were two teams that I believed could’ve also had a shot at winning a state title.

Allen Plaster – Athletic Director

The superstition I witnessed from the press box on Friday nights, was the different undershirts we wore out to warm up. Being a former baseball player it didn’t take me long to figure out what was going on, but some nights we looked like the gas house gang out there during warm ups. People in the stands would be asking why are we warming up in other teams colors, why do they dress so different etc. We were able to fix that for the state championship.

Kaleb Lundy

During the season we never looked ahead on schedule, just because that could throw us off from what we were practicing and learning that week about our opponents.

Ty Lyles

Week to week we would see what the standings were from the past week for the Friday night games.

Who did the players feel were the Offensive and Defensive MVP’s of the Regular season at that point?

Todd Willert – Head Coach

So many great players on this team. What made them great is they didn’t care who had the stats the main thing they cared about was the WIN Column. A great surprise was the play at the QB position because going into the season we were not sure how strong we would be. The offensive line was solid during the regular season and really helped to get us rolling. By the end of the regular season running back Robbin Smith really emerged as a great running back and I believed helped to take our offense to another level.

Defensively we just leaned on Khalil and Khalid. They were the leaders of our defense. We had so much talent on defense. The knowledge and speed on the defense gave me a lot of confidence that we could win the whole thing.

Kaleb Lundy

On offensive, the MVP was QB Ty Lyles, that’s a bad man…..
On defensive, the MVP was LB Javon Cobbs, he’s a workhorse. Javon evolved throughout the season as a player and a person, and I feel like that’s what made him a better player and he’ll continue to progress as long as he stays on that track.

Ahmani Marshall

I would say my quarterback Ty Lyles should be Offensive MVP. Ty was a JV quarterback his freshman year, then led us to the state championship as a sophomore. That shows a lot of hard work and confidence.
Defensive MVP would be Javon Cobbs. He’s a key contributor to the defense.

Kalil Baker

Offensive MVP automatically would have to go to Ty Lyles(4). Being only a sophomore and being able to do some of the things he did was truly incredible and I’m pretty sure I could vouch for anybody when I say I loved watching him play. Defensive MVP goes to Javon Cobbs(11). A fearless player that will do any and everything to make a play. He made plays that I don’t think anyone else could’ve made and he’ll always have some candy on him while playing.

Allen Plaster – Defensive Coordinator

Not sure if there was a clear MVP on the offensive side at this point, cause on any given night a different person could beat you. Our QB Ty Lyles probably had made the most progress from the beginning of the season for me because he didn’t have a lot of experience under his belt before the season started. On the defensive side I believe that Khalid Martin was the MVP through the regular season. He was making plays and making sure everyone else knew their assignments.

Next – Part 3 of our 3 part series, as the Eagles start the road to the state championship in 4-A with home field advantage through the playoffs.

Read Part 1 HERE

Desmond Johnson is the owner/editor of sportscarolinamonthly.com. He is currently Creative Director for WSJS Sports Hub Triad and produces The Drive with Josh Graham, Mon-Fri 3-6pm. Johnson also hosts The Rundown with Desmond Johnson Saturday Mornings at 10am. He lives in Kernersville with his wife and two daughters. SportscarolinaMonthly.com is a Livewire Media Group LLC entity.

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