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Myth Becomes Legend 2 – The 2018 East Forsyth State Champs – Part 3

State Playoffs

With a 10-0 regular season record and finishing as the Piedmont Triad 4A conference champs, the East Forsyth Eagles entered the NCHSAA 4A state playoffs as a 1 seed. Getting the 1 seed meant a first round bye and waiting a week to begin.

When the Eagles started their playoff run, a familiar foe awaited them. Cross town rival Glenn. The Eagles would prevail, 42-6, in an almost identical contest between the two teams from a few weeks prior.

Playoff Game 1 – Glenn

Head Coach Todd Willert

The great thing in the playoffs was knowing we were the 1 Seed and everyone had to come to K-Vegas and to the NEST to try and beat us. The defense had so much confidence and we knew we were getting Thomaz Johnson back, our big DT so that was a big positive. Playing Glenn in the 2nd round was a cool thing to have both Kernersville schools playing in the 2nd round of the playoffs. The kids were exited about the game and I think the town of Kernersville was excited also.

Khalil Baker – Safety – Senior

Felt like Deja vu in practice. They didn’t want to play us and it showed.

Allen Plaster – Athletic Director

First of all, not sure I like the idea of a bye at that point of the season, especially when your team is playing well. But that is the way the playoffs are set up right now and it gave us a opportunity to make sure everyone was at full speed for round 2. Our defense had been flying around and making plays when we needed to make play and didn’t allow teams to get in a groove. Glenn was a team we had faced earlier in the season and we knew a lot about them, but you have to make sure the kids are ready to play and not over look them because we had beat them before. It is never hard preparing for Glenn but you have to make sure they are focused all week and not to emotionally high on Friday night.

Ty Lyles – Quarterback – Sophomore

The week going into the game is was like every week. We just need to take care of our business and do our job. We definitely pick up intensity during the week just because we know Glenn is a big rivalry and the games is going to be live and hype no matter the out come. But we knew that we had to dominate and remain undefeated!

Aaron Beal – Defensive Coordinator

We have always heard people say it’s hard to beat a team twice in one season….although it maybe true. My question is why does the losing team always get the advantage from fans & media? The winning team was in that same stadium and if you’re a good coaching staff you will see things that worked or didn’t work and go back and prepare even better in my opinion. Therefore making it tougher to beat you next time.

When we played Glenn the 1st time our guys had a chip on their shoulders. We didn’t play up to our standards the year before and wanted to show what we were capable of. The 2nd time really didn’t matter who we played in my opinion. It was kind of cool that we got to play our biggest rival in the playoffs, whenever you play Glenn it’s a big time atmosphere and all of Kernersville comes out. To get that atmosphere in the playoffs was very special. As far as the playoffs go…. This in my mind was what we trained all off-season for. The regular season and the other 2 phases (Non conference/Conference) were important…. but to me all that work in the offseason was for these next 4 weeks! It was time!!!!

We were finally fully healthy on defense and our guys were ready to make the run…. I remember sitting down with Kaleb Lundy and Khalid Martin during the week and going thru the call sheet/gameplan multiple times. They knew every check and every call. I was very confident that we would handle business.

Ahmani Marshall – Running Back – Senior

We prepared for Glenn the same. But I do believe they were quicker to the ball when we played them in the playoffs. We just went out and dominated as usual.

Playoff Game 2 – Grimsley

Yet another familiar foe awaited East Forsyth after dismantling Glenn. Grimsley had been a foe of the Eagles for years. East would move on after a 41-7 win at The Nest.

Jalen Shelf – Offensive Tackle – Senior

Our defense was really solid and they were “setting the tone” which means they were coming with a lot of intensity and had a focus mindset. At first, facing them in the playoffs were going to be a challenge because we played them before so they learned certain things already about us. Honestly I would have been fine playing the same team again to see if we really were focused.

Mizell Hall – WR – Senior

We did nothing different as far as prep wise, Coach told us to treat this as another game, just make sure we handle business.

Head Coach Todd Willert

Grimsley was a team you really didn’t want to play a second time as a coach. You could see they had gotten a lot better since the first time we played. But once again our defense played a great game. Ahmani had a big Night for us with 158 yards rushing and 3 Touchdowns. However, the play of the game was the early pick 6 by Khalil Baker.

Khalil Baker

By the time we reached the playoffs every thing was set in stone. Everyone knew their job, how to execute it, and knew who they were playing beside. With facing a same team twice you know how they’re going to play but so do they so it’s always gonna be a fight. Definitely would’ve wanted to play against Mooresville, just off the fact that all of Charlotte doubted us. I scored the first touchdown with a 50 yard pick 6 and then Khalid scored the next touchdown on offense. Pretty cool for two defensive players to score the first points, shows the versatility that we had.

State Semifinals – Porter Ridge

The NCHSAA 4A West semifinals was a 32-14 home win over Porter Ridge. Describe the feeling around the school and Kernersville at this point? East Forsyth is still undefeated, and there seemed to be a palatable buzz in the air at this point. Do you remember feeling the community beginning to really back you guys by this point? How hard was it to not look ahead to a potential 4A state championship berth? The rushing attack gained 288 yards on the ground….what was it like watching the platoon of runnning backs run through opponents and how much did the offensive line jell during the season to make this happen? How did it feel to advance to only the 2nd football state title game in school history?

Jalen Shelf

The feeling around the school was pretty thrilling knowing that we were going to the state championship and that we reached another milestone in East Forsyth football. It was really hard not to look ahead because we did not want to be cocky and have our heads boosted. Honestly it felt tremendous being able to advance to a state championship game out of the four years of being in the East Forsyth football program.

Aaron Beal – Defensive Coordinator

This was what it was all about. The semifinals are electrifying! To be able to play that game at home for the 2nd time in 4 years was really special. We were going up against a Porter Ridge team that did some things offensively that we were going to have to play absolutely perfect against. We had a great game plan, then we went out and executed it. To hold Porter Ridge to 14 points and shut down that offense in that game was something I’ll never forget. At the time after it was over all I could think about was the Championship game…… looking back now that is probably one of my greatest memories as a football coach. Our staff did an excellent job preparing and our players went out and executed it!

Mizell Hall

After the Porter Ridge game, everyone was excited and we could see everyone knew then that our team could win it all, so the community backed us up a lot and also showed a lot of love. Our Running Backs stepped up that game, it was kinda fun watching them run over and put moves on Porter Ridge, I just continued to do my job and block for the guys. For us to beheading to the state championship game next felt great. I felt that we didnt come all this way to lose, so I was over excited for the game to get here.

Khalil Baker

The school felt anxious. From the students to teachers to the whole community everyone was just waiting for the day. We never said it publicly but we knew we had the team to do it, the energy that we had coming back from the 2017-2018 year was something I never felt before. Watching our RB’s were exciting because you knew someone was going to break and you didn’t want to miss it and a huge part of that is that whole offense having trust in the o-line. We knew we didn’t come this far for no reason.

Ty Lyles

The feeling was upbeat, everyone was happy and they wanted us to win state. Yes they showed us a lot of love during the season. The offensive line grew as the year went on and came a long way! Felt crazy to know that but we were still focused on the game first.

Head Coach Todd Willert

As a Head Coach I was really nervous going into this game knowing the type of offense Porter Ridge was running.  The Gun Wing-T with some option in it really can cause some problems.  But once again, our defense came up HUGE. Only giving up 213 total yards, 210 rushing and only 3 yards passing.  

However, once again big time players make big time plays.  Right after they scored their second touchdown in 3rd quarter to make it 19-14.  Mizell Hall returns the kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and that really broke the back of the Porter Ridge team.  Our special teams came up once again like it had all season.

The support from Kernersville, the student body and other surrounding schools was just GREAT!!!  It was nice to see the majority of the area close to East Forsyth wanted us to succeed.  

The feeling after the game is so hard to explain.  I was so happy and proud of so many people.  To see my wife (Katie) and kids (Harper & Morgan) after just made it so hard to keep my emotions under control.  All the sacrifice they have to put in as a head coaches wife and family no one will ever understand unless they are a coach. Then the sense of happiness for the players, coaches, trainers, the students, faculty, Kernersville, and the 336 was my great joy.  So many people helped to build the PROGRAM.  All the players before this team that helped build this program “Brick By Brick”

The next biggest moment was seeing my Dad after the game and to know I had got him to the State Title game made me breakdown.  He is the major reason I got into coaching and I knew for the most part this was going to be his last year coaching with me.  To look into his eyes and see the joy and pride he had was a moment in my life that I will never forget.

4A State Championship – Scotland County

East Forsyth takes the field at Wallace Wade Stadium at Duke University for the 4A State Final vs Scotland County

The state finals saw an instant classic vs Scotland County, East won 35-28 after coming back in the 4th quarter. What can you remember about this game? The offense and defense were moving the ball at will at this point, describe being able to impose your team’s will on the opponent at such a high level during the season (state playoffs), this game required a comeback for you, which you hadn’t really had to deal with at all for most of the season, describe the composure in the huddle and the sidelines

Aaron Beal – Defensive Coordinator

I remembered that week us getting dumped on with Snow. We couldn’t get in to practice Monday or Tuesday and our fields were basically shut down because they were so bad. I remembered thinking to myself isn’t this my luck…. Make it to the Championship game and not be able to practice all week because of a Winter storm. We finally were able to practice on Wednesday and not playing until Saturday night gave us 3 full days of prep work. So laying down Friday night I felt pretty good about our game plan.

When we got into the Championship we it was back and forth. We made a ton of mental errors on defense and credit to them they took advantage of them. Once we got to halftime we made some key adjustments that I felt would help put our guys in position to make more plays. We had a good feel for how they wanted to attack us at that point. Coach Willert came in a gave the guys one of the greatest halftime speeches about what it was going to take to be a Champion. When we left the locker room, I felt very confident. There was never a feeling Scotland was going to roll over.

It was the Championship game and we expected to be in a 4 quarter fight. Personally being in a battle like that made the victory that much more sweeter! When we went up in the 4th and they had to throw the ball, my confidence was on cloud 9. Having players like Khalid, Ajani, Khalil, Q, Sincere, Shayne in the secondary, I knew we were going to make a play and win the championship. On that last drive, just about everyone of them had a pass defended. The final pass went up in the air I saw Sincere break on it and it fall to the ground. The clock read zero and I saw Coach Willert run at me and almost tackle me. Soon as that happens my mind instantly went back 4 years before that. He took a chance on me when others wouldn’t and we did it. CHAMPIONS!

QB Ty Lyles hands off to RB Ahmani Marshall during a contest in the 2018 season

Mizell Hall

At States it got a little crazy because we haven’t been down like we were by any team, I made sure a lot of the guys kept their heads, for us to win that game I knew we all had to stay locked in. Myself and some of the other players say LOCKED IN as being focused, I knew we all had to focus to get the win.

Jalen Shelf

From what I remember from the game, both teams were going back and forth offensively and defensively which made it a “game for the books.” We worked so hard to get to where we was and it was really personal for the whole team because we never got so far in the playoffs and actually succeed and continue to a state championship.

Ty Lyles

The state final was exciting and the atmosphere was timid and quiet in the beginning. During the season, we went down 7-0 a few games so we knew that we could move the ball if we went 100.

Khalid Martin celebrates an Eagle win during the 2018 season.

Allen Plaster – Athletic Director

The biggest thing I felt in the game when we were down was that I didn’t feel that we were every out of the game. I felt there was a calmness to the players and on the sidelines that everyone felt as if we were winning the game. Scotland has been a top level team in the state for a long time and to be able to play them in a state championship was very good and to beat them was even better.

Khalil Baker

The first quarter was the longest quarter I ever played in my life. All they wanted was a couple of yards and for our offense to stay off the field. We always played at a high level rather it was the first string or the third string, we never wanted to leave any doubt on that field. Having to comeback showed our maturity as a team. Offensively 3 of the touchdowns came from Ty being a fearless quarter back. The composure on the side line was to control the controllable. 

Head Coach Todd Willert

I just had a good feeling from the time we got on the buses to head to Durham that this could be a GREAT DAY for Eagle Nation. The send off by our fans on a cold rain morning to the police escort all the way to Durham got us going right. The sense of relaxation among the players and coaches really helped me to be relaxed. Our AD Allen Plaster also made it a First Class experience for everyone involved. After the Porter Ridge victory all Allen said to me was I will take care of everything you just get ready for Scotland. Boy did Plaster do it right for start to finish!

Pre Game was awesome. I saw how relaxed the players were and they were taking in the moment but knew they had 1 more task at hand. Brandon Lawson (former Eagle Player of mine now a Coach) gave a great pre game pep talk that to this day and for the rest of my life I will talk about.

Then it was game time and once again what an AWESOME feeling. To see all the smiles on everyone’s faces on the sidelines was something special to see. Then to look back at the student section and see all the East students, then you see all the alumni, then the people that came from Kernersville to support just made the night perfect.

Describe the back and forth in this state title game, an instant classic. Scotland County fought you guys toe to toe to the very end. Both teams scored on their opening drives, you were tied at 21-21 at the half. Was there a moment in the game where you realized that Scotland County wasnt going to just roll over?

Head Coach Todd Willert

Might be the best game I have ever been a part of. The ups and downs of emotions and the big plays and the environment was so unbelievable. This game had some crazy stats. The first crazy stat we ran 43 offense plays to Scotlands 70 offense plays. In the first quarter they had the ball for 10 minutes and 7 seconds to our 1 minute and 53 seconds. At halftime the score is tied 21-21 and Scotland had the ball for 18 minutes and 15 seconds to our 5 minutes and 45 seconds. They had run 41 offensive plays in the first half. We ran only 15 plays offensively. In the end Scotland had the ball for 32 minutes to our 16 minutes for the game

Ty Lyles

Honestly it was funny because we knew we had a good run for our money. We knew that Scotland wasn’t gonna lay down because it’s the biggest game of the season they didn’t come this far for nothing!

Khalil Baker

We realized quick that they weren’t just gonna roll over. When they scored to tie the game up at halftime it proved that the 2nd half was gonna be a battle.

In 1992, the play that decided the game for East forsyth in the state title game was known for “The Pass”, a 50+ yard bomb from QB Joe Lagarde to WR Shane Manring that gave East a 28-21 lead in the final seconds and led to the victory and state title. In 2018, history repeated itself with ‘The Pass 2’ where Ty Lyles found a wide open Mizell Hall uncovered at the line of scrimmage on the Scotland County 14 yard line late in the 4th quarter……Walk me though that last play with the throw to Hall. What do you remember about the play? What happened as to why Scotland left Hall unattended by himself? What was the thought process as you came out of the huddle and saw that Mizell was uncovered?

Head Coach Todd Willert

We have a saying here at East, “Be A Dude” #BAD! I remember our offensive coordinator yelling in the headsets to me and our Running Backs Coach Damien Booe was like, “what play did you guys call?!” I started to say, “I didn’t call a play!”

However, before I could finish the sentence it was complete chaos and joy. For the first time in my coaching career I really broke down and could hear everything. From the crowed going crazy, to the sidelines going crazy, coaches, trainer, our police officers Deeny and Long, to Drew Whicker a former player. Then I collected myself and knew we had to finish the game! I always tell the team and coaches the most important point in football is the PAT. We had a freshman, Andrew Conrad, who we had to count on to put us up 7 in the biggest game in East Forsyth history since 1992. ‘Money’ is what I said to myself when he hit the PAT. It was now in the hands of the best defense in the state in my opinion and they delivered us the victory and it was celebration time!!!

Allen Plaster – Athletic Director

Coach Willert and Coach Horton had done a great job of changing formations almost every play of the year and the State Championship game was no different. We had been changing formations all night long and we caught them not lined up correctly. After the game, I then found out that we didn’t even have a play called. Ty saw Mizell uncovered and told the center to snap the ball and threw it out to him for the winning touchdown. When Mizell scored the touchdown, the crowd went crazy and I felt like we had just won the game even though there was still enough time on the clock for Scotland to score.

Khalil Baker

I was at the other end of the field waiting for kickoff, because I knew we were going to score. I didn’t see Mizell open until right before they snapped the ball. We were switching personnel in and out and Mizell was coming out and they told him he was in, nobody from Scotland seen it and there he was wide open. After the touchdown I started getting tears in my eyes before I had to remember there was still 2:45 left on the clock.

Ty Lyles

The last throw wasn’t planned at all. We switched formations late in the play clock, Hall ran on the field and out the corner of my eye I saw him. I just told my center Danny to hike the ball and I trusted Hall to catch the ball! The crowd was stunned because it happened so quick, but they were very electrifying!

Mizell Hall

The last play there was no one guarding me. I looked over at Ty and told him to just hike it…just hike it. I said it 4 times, Ty couldn’t hear me, so I got in my WR stance as low as I could so no one would look over, and Ty finally saw me and we made it happen.

After I scored I felt a big rush, The stands went WILD. My brother also hopped over the wall at Duke after I scored.

Top memories of the 2018 championship season?

Aaron Beal – Defensive Coordinator

The biggest thing I remember during the trophy presentation was the journey. The win was great dont get me wrong….I just wish the rest of the guys could’ve experienced that…. some of the names that came to mind in my 4 years. Players like Madison Cone, Sirod Cook, Dominic Booe, Chrishon Springs, Brandon Tate, Alec Neugent, Aaron Worthy, Chandler Brinson. So many of those guys and more deserved to win a ring in my mind.

Finally….. fall in love with the process and the journey! Be about substance & not glamour. Focus on the small details and enjoy being with one another because time flies! Before you know it the journey is over and everyone goes their separate ways. To the town of Kernersville and all of Eagle Nation thank you! I hope we made you guys proud!!!

Khalil Baker

My #1 memory would have to be all the games that me and Khalid Martin didn’t know the play call, so I’d just tell him get in the box I’ll play man. East Forsyth is a big family, alumni come back all the time and work out with us. Keep the bond close and keep your brothers in check. Also it may not be what you want to hear, but 9 times out of 10 Coach Willert is looking out for you The only thing that can get in their way is themselves, they have the blueprint.

To my teammates, forever grateful to have played beside y’all and be able to share a memory with you. To my coaches, thank you for believing in a kid and molding me into the person I am now. To the fans, thank you for all the support through the heat, rain & cold I knew y’all was going to be there.

Start of the 2018 State Champion parade

Ty Lyles

My MVPs…..on Offensive, Ahmani Marshall. On defense- Javon Cobbs or Khalil Baker. We still keep up with former players daily. I would tell them to keep grinding all the time and state focused on the Prize. The season was fun definitely one to remember!!!

Jalen Shelf

My #1 top memory was 3rd round of the playoffs playing Glenn, and I came across and pancaked one of the linebackers and stepped over him and kept it pushing. Offensive player of the year I would say Mizell Hall, because he came in clutch when it was needed and he played every game to the fullest For defense, I would say Javon Cobbs, because when he reads a offensive scheme he know exactly where it’s going and what play it is. I keep up with one of the former offensive lineman from East Forsyth, Brandon Smith, he motivates me and makes me a better person and also helps me when it comes to working on the field. Advice I would give to the returning football players is to not get a big head, stay focus and build trust in the team and play to the fullest.
Thanks for being there from the start to the end. It’s been long ride and all good things come to end but never forgotten.

Allen Plaster – Athletic Director

I think that my top memory is the win at West Forsyth. That night we didn’t play well, officiating was suspect, and our kids just gutted it out and found a way to win despite everything that didn’t go our way. This gave me a sense that the way we won the game that night would help us down the road because our kids would know how to fight and claw out a win.

Offensively, we had different people step up over the course of the year, but If I had to pick an Offensive Player of the Year for me would have to be Ty Lyles. He was the one who lead the offense all year long. For me the Defensive Player of the Year would be Javon Cobbs. He was the one that had played in the trenches at LB and he also helped in coverage.

The returning and new players need to understand that they can’t live off what happened last year. They need to make a name for themselves and have to work harder than ever because everyone will be gunning for you.

I would like to Congrats Coach Willert, the Coaching Staff, and the Players for getting over the hump and bringing another State Championship to Kernersville. The to Kernersville Community……. A huge thanks for the big send off and return from the game that night, and to everyone that came to or had anything to do with the Championship Parade. All those experiences are things that all our kids will remember for the rest of their lives.

Todd Willert – Head Coach

My Best Coaching Memory on season was the week getting really for state and the adversity of the snow and practicing at Wake Forest that week in their indoor facility. How fun that week was with the coaches, players, trainers and Allen Plaster.

A closer look at the 2018 Eagles Rings

My Best Personal memory was sharing the day and night with Katie and the kids. Having Katie and Harper ride the team bus down and back. Having them right by my side just made me so relaxed. To see my Daughter Harper go crazy when those BLUE lights came on when we hit the Kernersville town line and the KPD guided through town to East and to see the streets lined with fans cheering us on well after midnight. Then to have my family experience the Greatest Parade ever going through downtown Kernersville and seeing all the people a sight I will never forget. Thanks to Jenny Fulton.

So many people to thank. But first, to my Wife Katie, who has the toughest job ever being a Head Football Coaches wife. I love you more than you will ever know. To my best friend Allen Plaster our AD for making this the greatest moment in my coaching career. To all the players and I mean all the players that came before the 2018 team for helping to Build this Program, EAGLE PRIDE!!! The trainers, faculty and administration at East for all the support. The support of WSFCS and coming to practice the week of the State game to show us support. To all of our sponsors thought the years, Parents, Alumni, KPD, Loflin Concrete and the 336. I am just so grateful to everyone who has support East Forsyth. Thanks once again to Jenny Fulton and Curtis Swisher.

To the Whole 2018 Football Program ” I LOVE YOU ALL!”

Read previous parts of Myth Becomes Legend 2 in the Prep section of

Desmond Johnson is the owner/editor of 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. is a Livewire Media Group LLC entity.

Follow Desmond on Twitter at @sportscarolina1

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