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Three Eagles would rush for over 100 yards in the game, Robbin Smith with 131…Chris Chaplin with 107…and Junior QB Ty Lyles with 107 yards. The Eagles would explode with 21 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter and would pull away from Davie to advance 49-21.
SCM: Having secured a first round bye, East waited a week for State Playoffs to begin. East Forsyth first game was against a familiar foe, Davie County from your Central Piedmont Conference, resulting in a 49-21 victory. At this point the Eagles offense had average 51 ppg in the past 3 weeks, describe what the offense was doing overwhelm opponents. How comfortable were you facing a conference foe in the playoffs, would you rather have played a team that hadnt seen you guys yet? Do you remember anything in particular about this game?
Video courtesy of Game of Inches HS
Head Coach Todd Willert: I really think our Offensive Line had really established itself and the run game was pretty much unstoppable. I believe the last 2 games of the regular season we rushed for over 450 yards in both games. As a matter of fact I think over 550 yards in the RJ Reynolds game. When you can lean on people at this time of the year it can really make your offense go. Our defense was creating turnovers and everything was just starting to click come playoff time. A lot people always say it is hard to beat a team twice in one season and that always made me scratch my head? I think it is the opposite that if you lost already to a team in the season it is even harder to think you can find a way to beat them the second time around. I think with our staff at East it only helps us if we played you once because we can really put together a great game plan for the second game. With our conference and all the great teams in it we understand we will meet again in the playoffs and that includes a lot of teams in our non-conference schedule also.
I remember going into the game, that I really challenged our defense. We knew they had a really good offense. However, our defense stepped up to the challenge with 6 TFLs, 3 sacks that night and 2 INTs. Javon Cobb had 18 tackles and an INT and JV running back turn DB for playoffs Jemon Smith had an INT. The offense went crazy that night with over 630 total offensive yards. Over 370 on the ground and around 260 in the air. We had 3 players that night that rushed for over 100 yards (Chris Chaplin,Ty Lyles and Robbin Smith). Plus, Jamison Warren had 153 yards receiving on the night.
Doug Lakis – Offensive Line Coach: I really think the key to the offensive production over the last 3 games was a result of the run game getting untracked. We were really starting to be much more physical up front and were imposing our will on the defense. The RBs were doing an outstanding job of being patient and letting the play develop in front of them. Also Ty (Lyles) was becoming a big running threat, which put added pressure on the defense.
I think playing Davie for the 2nd time creates some concerns because it is difficult to beat a good team twice. However, we had really found the formula for being successful during the past 3 weeks and also having the bye allowed us to get some much needed rest and gave us more time to get healthier.
Jameson Warren – Junior Wide Receiver: Our offense wasn’t doing anything special, we was just doing what we do. I was very comfortable (going into the rematch) because the first time we played them, I had scored 3 times so I felt like they couldn’t defend me.
Robbin Smith – Senior Running Back: We were very confident with all positions and knew whatever plays felt best…we could get it done. I would haved loved to see a different team just for the experience. All I remember is how slow I am…every time I got loose, I eventually got walked down.
Allen Plaster – Athletic Director: I think besides the very good skill players we have, that the Offensive Line was a big factor in what we did offensively. Those guys would lay on the opponent and just wear them down. There are pros and cons playing familiar teams. I would rather play someone different, but the way the State Playoffs are you usually get at least one/two familiar teams in the playoffs.
Torrian Jackson – Senior Defensive End: The past 3 weeks, the offense was on fire they had the confidence and they could back it up. Davie was a formidable team and they weren’t gonna back down, but we always love a challenge. Every week, every coach gives the team challenges. It didn’t matter who we played, the outcome would’ve been the same.
Aaron Beal – Defensive Coordinator: Anytime you play a conference opponent in the playoffs and have a chance to end their season its exciting. On the flip side, they have the same opportunity. We were really banged up the 1st time we played them and the guys who were stepping into bigger roles were getting more live game reps on Friday nights. I just felt if we executed and limited our mistakes, I loved our chances. When you have an offense like ours that’s putting up those kinds of numbers, it makes your job on defense a lot easier.
Christofer Davis – Senior Offensive Line: Playing Davie again gave us confidence offensively. It was a tale of two teams…both offenses had started to pick up a lot of steam. I was happy to play Davie again, because we basically had them figured out. I feel like it gave us confidence to play a team we had already beat.
All I can remember from this game is how big their interior D-lineman were, at about 6’1 or so and 315+ pounds. It was a battle of the trenches versus Davie and just came down to want to and experience. Playing at East comes with the pressure of a playoff game, no matter if we are playing Reynolds, Davie or Glenn…we play looking to perfect our craft.
Ron Horton – Offensive Coordinator: At this point, the offense is playing pretty well and the run game was really yielding some big numbers. Coupling that with being intentional about playing faster and the offense was in a groove. I think the guys were comfortable with Davie as they were in our conference plus the fact that we played pretty well verse them a few weeks prior didn’t hurt. I think the staff was fine with Davie, but would also welcome a new opponent. You hear people say its hard to be a team twice but we as a staff feel like a second chance makes it easier to identify and correct the things you didn’t do as well the first time around. I remember feeling like our original game plan was really solid, so we focused on doing those things well, while adding things we identified that we didn’t take advantage of or missed on.
SCM: Regional semifinals was a 34-21 home win over Ragsdale. Can you describe the feeling around the school and Kernersville at this point? East is defending 4A state champs, 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? Talk about the growth of some players on offense like Junior QB Ty Lyles…and others that had to step up during the season to become major cogs like WR Jameson Warren. How much did the offensive line jell during the season to make this happen? Talk about having home field advantage up to this point and knowing you would have to hit the road to face a hungry Grimsley team that you already faced at Jameson Stadium earlier in the season and escaped with a climatic 21-20 win…what was the build up like to the East forsyth vs Grimsley playoff game with the winner moving on the the state final?
Head Coach Todd Willert: The school and K-Vegas was a buzz. I am so happy for the players and coaches and everyone that’s a part of the Program to get to feel that feeling. It is so special and many people never get to experience it, that hometown PRIDE!!! Getting to the 3rd round and now people could see how our team was hitting on all cylinders. People were starting to talk about repeating, so I really remember trying to keep everyone focused on the game ahead of us.
Jabez Gorham was really stepping up on defense and emerging as a leader for defense along with Zyun Reeves and Jordan Timmons. I believe this helped out our defensive leader Elijah Thomas. Elijah was just solid all year long for us on defense and to get this help made a big difference. I really feel like Jamison really made the biggest jump from the beginning of the season to the playoffs for our skilled position groups. Then the X factor you just know you are never out of a game with #4 in at QB. Ty is a winner and that is the most important stat for a quarterback.
Playing at The Nest is just different. Our fan base is AWESOME and the support is real. It really does give us added confidence but more importantly I believe it is really tough on visiting teams to play at The Nest.
After the game with Ragsdale it was full court press on Grimsley and I believe everyone in the area was ready for this re-match. This is where it got different from 2018 because now we had to go win on the road in order to make it to Chapel Hill.
Ty Lyles – Junior Quarterback: The atmosphere was a nice upbeat vibe throughout the day. Yessir throughout the season they were (supporting us) but during this week we kinda felt it more… me and Jamo had a good connection throughout the season and we built on that in the playoffs. The line was great all season and they just became better as we played through the season. The build up was crazy but we remained humble and didn’t build up into the hype.
Jacob Fletcher – Junior Offensive Line: I think the school was excited and the team and coaches were excited, but a lot of other schools and people on the outside were definitely not convinced we had a chance to go back. But, I do think It’s hard to not get excited or think of the idea of going back to a State Championship. You can’t think it’s an easy path, because there is a lot of teams that want it just as bad as us. So, we honestly had to take one game at a time and really tried to stay humble.
I think a lot of players had to step up and I think Jamison, Ty, Robbin, Thorns and Joe really stepped up in the backfield and helped make the offense roll. But the offensive line really just worked really hard to protect Ty and did the little things to really set us apart from other offensive lines. Home field Advantage is always great because you got the support and feeling of being at home. Playing Grimsley again was exciting and it was a very hype game and I enjoy being in those games because that’s when a lot is on the line. I feel in those types of games that’s when big time players make big time plays and shows what a team is made of.
Allen Plaster – Athletic Director: I really believe that the players and fans thought we were going back to the State Championship, and more and more people were coming out to the games. Our fans were really keeping the players energized. The Kernersville community is always great to East Forsyth. I can’t tell you the number of local businesses that help support our athletic program and the people, of all ages, that pull for the Eagles. The Kernersville Community is GREAT! Yes it is hard to not look ahead but I think coach had the players focused about the Grimsley rematch.
I think one guy that gets left out and had a huge impact during the whole season and that is Joe Ritchens. Joe did a little of everything for us…….he blocked at tight end, he ran the ball at QB and from the slot position, he caught passes, and he even threw a couple passes. He was the “Jack of all Trades” for us. You add all the things Joe was able to do with the very good skill players we have, and then the development of the Offensive Line and we had something special on offense.
Torrian Jackson – Senior Defensive End: We all felt that we had a major chance at victory and the supporters of East believed in all of us that we could go back to back. But also within the team we believed it as much as anybody. The first time we played against Grimsley, we all made mistake after mistake and then Grimsley capitalized on the mistakes so the whole week we didn’t practice any plays it was the same game plan. So we watched film and worked on our mistakes.
They had home field advantage again, but we beat them once when it wasn’t life or death…but now it was go home and cry or get ready for practice on Monday for a title game. And me knowing I’m a senior and won’t have this chance again…if I go home crying I want to know I have a ring to be waiting on in couple months.
Eric Jones – Assistant Defensive Coordinator: Coach Willert does a tremendous job making sure coaches and players take each game one at a time. Ragsdale was a team we knew they were well coached and they had a couple of very good players that played both ways. Ty and the offense really begin to jell and we began to see the emergence of another young running back in Tre. I was never surprised on the development of the O Line. I will say this on record, WE HAVE THE BEST OFFENSIVE LINE COACH AROUND!
Doug Lakis – Offensive Line Coach: The community was starting to really get excited. I think there was some concern earlier when we lost a couple, but after the wins in a row everyone once again started to feel something big brewing. The Ragsdale game was more difficult than I thought it was going to be. I give them credit, they had a good game plan and did some things that caused us a few problems. We made the necessary adjustments during the game and were able to secure a big win and set up the rematch at Grimsley.
The hype was huge during Grimsley week. We knew they would be all jacked up and the fact that it was a home game for them added to to the hype. Once again our kids responded big time and after being down big early we regained our composure and went to work. Ultimately, the defense came up huge time and time again in the second half and saved us! Winning at their place made it even more special. All the area papers didn’t give us a chance, our kids always find a way!
Robbin Smith – Senior Running Back: I knew Ty was going to be a great QB when he first came in and in practice made a no look pass then a shovel pass. I was so impressed and I’ve known Jameson since we were kids…I knew he had the speed, but never realized how great his hands were. They have both had big contributing roles in this whole season making magnificent clutch plays.
Aaron Beal – Defensive Coordinator: We knew Ragsdale had a big time do everything player in Boykin. I felt really good if we could contain him, we would come out victorious. When you have a player on the other side of the ball like him you have to be aware of where he’s at on every play or he can make you pay. I thought we did a good enough job of limiting their explosive plays on defense and came away with another playoff victory at the Nest!
Christoper Davis – Senior Offensive Line: After the Ragsdale game, it started to feel like people had finally began to take us seriously. Everyone started to hype us up as more then just a one hit wonder. It was nice to get respect but no one let it get to their head. Ty definitely matured over the season, as it started out all being about our run game and ended with us being able to do it all. In the beginning, it was a trust issue with the offensive line as he always seemed to scramble when he didn’t need to. Once the O-line and Ty seemed to be on the same page he began to show who he really is. He is an impressive quarterback who can do it all. He matured a lot and carried the team on his back at points. I am very proud to have been able to block for him.
Home field advantage was key in a game like Ragsdale. Ragsdale had some strong key players who could do it all but when you have the EFHS fans cheering loud it gets a little easier and more comfortable. Knowing we wouldn’t have that the next week at Grimsley was difficult, but we knew either way we had to win. It was nerve racking, having so much hype for the biggest rematch of the year. It was an emotional time for a special game.
The Grimsley Whirlies had lost 3 of the past 3 times they had faced Todd Willert and the East Forsyth Eagles. But this time, the Whirlies didnt have to travel to K-Vegas, the Eagles had to go through them at Jameson Stadium.
In an instant classic, the Eagles would hold on to win the Western Regional 21-20….after a two point conversion by Grimsley to attempt to win the game…would go horribly wrong for the Whirlies in the final seconds of the game.
The Eagles were going to move on to play in the 2019 4A State championship. Their opponent, Cardinal Gibbons, would be making their first appearance in the state title game in school history.
Video courtesy of @GameofInches_HS
SCM: The NCHSAA Western Regional 4A finals saw an instant classic vs area rival Grimsley, East won the rematch, AGAIN BY THE SCORE OF 21-20. What can you remember about this game? This was a very tight game filled with big plays…tell us about some of the big plays you remember good or bad from this night in Greensboro…Run through the sequence where Grimsley scored late in the 4th quarter to move to within 1 point but then decided to go for 2 instead of kicking the extra point….talk about that play and where you were when the outcome happened, on the field on the sideline…and the emotions going through your mind when Grimsley didnt convert. How did it feel to know that you were going to back to back state finals appearances for the first time in school history and you did it on the road vs what many considered your biggest competition in the bracket?
Head Coach Todd Willert: I remember a lot of yellow laundry on the field from that night. Lots of adversity to fight though that night and that is what made it so sweet, plus it made me so proud of the team and the coaches. We had a lot of big plays called back that night, and if you were there you know what I am talking about.
Ty had a big night throwing for over 200 yards that night and converting some big 3rd down plays. The best thing is he got the ball to 5 different receivers that night. Jalen Thorns had a great night and so did Joe Ritchens. Going into the game we knew we had to try and slow down run game but we really wanted to shut down their pass game the most and the defense did a good job of that. They were 5 for 13 for only 64 yards in the air plus Jabez had an INT! ET (Elijah) had a game high 17 total tackles but they still ran for 320 plus yards on the night. We knew their run game was going to be hard to stop so that is why we focused on their pass game to make them more one dimensional.
I had a feeling they might go for 2 at the end of the game because we knew their kicker was banged up. I was sitting in the press-box which I did for all of the playoffs watching the 2-point play. I was pretty confident because we worked their unique formations all week that they used for their 2-point plays. We just needed our defense to step up and that is what they did. Javon Cobb created some disruption right at the snap and the play was off right from the beginning.
Lots of people forget there was time left and we had to recover the on-side kick which I believe Robbin Smith did. Then we needed 1 first down to run out the clock and our O-Line put the work in. It was crazy to think we were heading back to State and I could not have been happier for East Forsyth and the town of Kernersville. So many people and businesses had a hand in our success.
My next thought was we need to FINISH and be Back to Back Champions and not just be happy with going back to State!
Christoper Davis – Senior Offensive Line: My favorite play is when Chris Chaplin was running the ball to the right side, getting about 60 or so yards. I remember this play, because I sprinted down the field and blocked a linebacker into a safety. I ended up pancaking both defenders and Chris ran right beside me to continue the run. It just felt like my biggest moment knowing how much effort I put to sprint up there and take on defenders as fast and skilled as Grimsley.
I was scared when I saw they went for two. It took all night to finally start to stop their offense as skilled as they were. I was watching, scared from the sidelines, knowing this could have been my last game and I had no control over this last play that would deem it my last or not. I got on one knee and just prayed real quick. It sounds like something out of a movie but it really was like that. I looked up and the ball was snapped…fumbled and all that fun stuff. It was a relief to say the least.
Ron Horton – Offensive Coordinator: Grimsley #2 was just as crazy an atmosphere as the first, if not more. It was important to not allow the moment to be too big for us. The first half and start of the game was the antithesis of how things went the first time around. We got down early and had to fight to get things going offensively. We found ourselves in some tough spots, but the guys didn’t blink in those moments.
Ty was just a man down the stretch and he willed us through but as he will tell you,it doesn’t happen if his teammates don’t step up. Jalen Thorns, Joe Ritchens, Brendan Conway all made big catches down the stretch. The offensive line battled in the trenches and as it got late, they allowed Robbin and Chap to have a few key runs that helped propel us.
We discussed that if they scored on that last drive they would go for 2 and the win. It was nerve racking but again there was a belief and a confidence that we would get it done no matter what. Some felt like there were some questionable calls/non calls but we didn’t want the guys to allow that to be a reason to not do their job or to be used as an excuse. I spoke with the offense and we prepared to have to drive the field for a game winning score but we didn’t need it. Credit the defense for efforts in getting several stops late and the biggest stop on the 2 pt conversion.
I was locked in as time was still on the clock. I believe Grimsley had 2 timeouts left so we had to move the chains at least once to seal the deal. I remember Coach Plaster pulling me off the field as I was relaying the plays along with Coach Booe to the guys. Obviously, we kept the ball on the ground and I think Traylon got the first down we needed and stayed in bounds as well. Everyone was elated as we understood what we had accomplished but I think it only added to the belief that we were supposed to be doing this. Whether a blow out or a dog fight we were determined to find a way.
Jameson Warren – Junior Wide Receiver: With me, everywhere I went the was at least 3 defenders with me…so my other receivers stepped up and played a great game. But we were down 14-0 and they kicked it to Traylon and he bout scored on the kick return. After that we just got rolling. When they scored and didn’t get the extra point, the emotions just hit because I realized we was going back to states. It felt good knowing we were going back to states.
Aaron Beal – Defensive Coordinator: We knew going into that game what they were going to bring, because they had some success in our 1st game. We just had to stop it. We knew their fans would be into it and it would be a great atmosphere. Once the game started, I felt it was tough to get in rhythm from the sheer amount on flags the officials were throwing. Once that happens, you try your best to control your emotions as a coach, simply because you don’t want the negative energy carrying over to your players. When we were down 14, I knew we just needed a stop and our offense would make something happen. I felt when we scored just before the half to tie the game, that gave us the momentum. Then it came down to 1 play…. and we made it. I was super proud of our guys because they fought through adversity yet again! People can say what they want but that 2019 Eagles squad was one gritty team.
Jordan Timmons – Junior Linebacker: It was exciting. I knew our defense would hold up and the offense would have a chance to march down the field on them. But some really big plays I remember is our Sophomore running back Traylon scoring and then Chris Chaplin breaking for a long run. Then…Robbin scoring the game winning touch down! The biggest play though was when we stopped them from scoring the 2 point conversion to go to the state championship!
Doug Lakis – Offensive Line coach: Great game! Tons of excitement and big plays all over the field. Of course the biggest plays were made by our defense in the game. Stopping the 2 point conversion was obviously the biggest, as it ultimately was the deciding play that helped us move on. I was on the sideline when the D made the play. The excitement was unreal and also the sense of relief. This was going to be my first time going to the State Championship game, I was overwhelmed with emotion and just tried to soak it all in. We had climbed a huge hill all year and were 1 win away from repeating! It was unbelievable.
Ty Lyles – Junior Quarterback: It was a good game…the refs were more on the opposite side of the ball this game, but overall it was hard fought. There were lots of plays like on the last play of the game when we stopped them on the one yard line! That was a great play. We were fundamentally sound and stayed on our assignments…they fumbled and we were more hungry for the ball. It felt great knowing we could accomplish winning another ring but we knew we had to stay focused and get right for states.
Logan Carter from Game of Inches HS Interviews HC Todd Willert on the eve of the State Championship game vs Cardinal Gibbons
Cardinal Gibbons arrived at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill on December 14th as a state title participant for the first time in school history. East Forsyth arrived on the doorsteps of history.
The two teams entered the contest with 12-2 records and one goal, to become the 2019 NCHSAA 4A state champion.
A defensive stand late in the 4th quarter would seal the victory for the Eagles, East Forsyth would go on to win their 3rd state title in school history, out-dueling Cardinal Gibbons 24-21.
SCM: The NCHSAA 4A State final, vs Cardinal Gibbons in Chapel Hill at Kenan Stadium. Describe the back and forth in this state title game, an instant classic. Cardinal Gibbons fought you guys toe to toe to the very end. CG seemed to have a very good advanced passing game. Both teams had mental errors and turnovers early…talk about the back and forth in this climatic battle for the 4A crown. Were there any players from Cardinal Gibbons that stood out from this game that you remember?
Head Coach Todd Willert: If you were a fan it was a great game to watch. As a Head Coach it was a gut wrenching back and forth game. I was up in the press-box for the State Championship game as well. Coach Plaster and Coach Lawson were both up there as well. I just remember so many times I am thinking we are going to pull away, and we just couldn’t do it. We did have many mistakes during the game and Cardinal Gibbons was a very good team and very physical. However, all the adversity during the season had taught us how to overcoming and find a way to win. Adversity can be a good thing if you learn from it and this group from 2019 definetly did that.
A couple things that stand out were Jamison Warren having a GREAT game with over 125 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns. T. Jackson and Shepard played very well that game from the D-Line spot and Javon Cobb having a good game. ET ending the season the same way he started it with an interception for his linebacker position.
Then of course the 3 BIG plays, first Isaiah Crowell with the big hit to cause the fumble and Jordan Timmons with the Scoop and score…no doubt that was a game changer for us. Then you have sophomore kicker Andrew Conrad kicking the game winning field goal of 33 yards on a bad leg that he fought through (many didn’t know he was battling a leg injury). Then the knock down in the end zone at the end of the game by Javon McAllister and the celebration was on.
Video courtesy of Game of Inches HS
Jacob Fletcher – Junior Offensive Lineman: I remember it was a very close game and we had made some fumbles and little mistakes that kept the game close, but we had the confidence we were gonna win that game. When it came down to the fourth quarter, I remember that they went for two. I was shocked, but I knew everything was on the line. When they didn’t get the two point conversion I was beyond happy and at that point I knew we had made it back and had the ability to repeat history.
Ron Horton – Offensive Coordinator: It was a trip home for me, as I am born and raised in Chapel Hill. We as an offense started slow, but we were able to get going as the first half moved forward. We had some penalties that really kept us out of rhythm at times. I remember identifying that they didn’t bump very much to motion so we added a few things onto what we already did to try and attack that. The motion and screen back to Jameson for the first score had timing issues all week, but was almost perfect in the game. Jacob Fletcher and Jaden Lindsay really worked hard to get out in front and Jameson did the rest. Ty had a few throws I know he wished he had back but continued to battle and lead the guys.
Both teams made some mistakes throughout the game, but our defense bailed us out which was huge! I remember the defensive line being one of, if not the best we had faced all year. Their RB #7 and both their QB and lead WR were legit and battled all game. I made it a point to speak with their QB after the game as I had nothing but respect for how hard he played.
Torrian Jackson – Senior Defensive End: Cardinal Gibbons got here for their first time, so it’s only right they have mental errors to get the butterflies out. But we shouldn’t have had errors…it’s just how we are at the beginning of a game their team was stout. Their line was very disciplined, it was hard to get through that line but we had to find ways. The back and forth got crazy and scary and the same time, we knew their passing game was good and the front 7 could handle ourselves…but the player that stood out to me was the offensive linemen on my side and that great quarterback, the lineman that worked the whole game did his job well and great sportsmanship. That quarterback (for Cardinal Gibbons) put his team on his back and set the tone and had the biggest heart.
Robbin Smith – Senior Running Back: Man, this game was the first time a team had schemed for me. It was so frustrating at first I was losing my head but my brother (former East Forsyth RB Christian Beal-Smith) calmed me down and was coaching me up and then I finally started to get loose.
Aaron Beal – Defensive Coordinator: Going into that game, everyone in the media was talking about the Cardinal Gibbons passing game. If you look at their numbers, what made them so dangerous was their running game opening up that explosive passing game. I think they were averaging over 40+ points a game going into States. I knew for us to be successful we were going to have to shut down the 2000 yard RB #7 and make them one dimensional. Doing so, we held them to a season low I think in 21 points. I felt going into that game if we held them to 21 points we would win. We did just that and I couldn’t be more proud of our men for that.
Jordan Timmons – Junior Linebacker: Man, this game was about discipline. We knew that the best team with the best game plan would win the game because Cardinal Gibbons was a very smart team. Their offense was really good all around!
Doug Lakis – Offensive Line Coach: Cardinal Gibbons was an excellent team. They were very physical in the front 7 which created some problems for us. We were able to move the ball well between the 20’s but then seemed to stall. We were able to hit some huge pass plays and score quickly. We did make some big mistakes at various times in the game and almost gave the game away late. Again our Defense rose up and made an incredible stand late, with back to back sacks and a pass break up! Jameson Warren made a couple great plays for the offense and OL did a good job battling in the trenches.
Christoper Davis – Senior Offensive Line: Cardinal Gibbons was a very good team. They came out and showed they were disciplined and understood the game of football. To me,the key players were #95 and #44. They were the interior D-Lineman and they really knew how to play. Personally, I didn’t have a good game and it did suck. I’m glad we won, but it was always rocky and either side could have taken the momentum at any moment.
SCM: 1992, the play that decided the State Championship game for East Forsyth was known for “The Pass” a 50+ yard bomb from 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 II’ 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……
In 2019 it was the defense that wrote the final chapter, with a legendary stand against the hot Cardinal Gibbons offense. The Eagles would notch back to back sacks to stall CG and then the climatic 4th down play where QB Andrew Harvey had to scramble and heave a shot towards the end zone for a chance to take the lead in the final seconds of the game. Talk about that final sequence and either being on the field playing defense or on the sidelines watching. What was the feeling on the sidelines? What did the defense do to stay focused to finish the job? Describe the emotion knowing that East was about to take over on downs and only had to down the ball twice and the Eagles would be back to back champs after all the adversity the team dealt with regarding injuries during the season.
Head Coach Todd Willert: On that 4th Down Play, I was on my way down from the press box. I didn’t take the elevator because I wanted to see and hear what was going on. My mind was racing and I remember that play seemed to last forever. We almost had Harvey for a sack and when we missed that, my heart sunk. I started running down another set of steps and then I heard the roar of our crowd and I knew then that we must have knocked the ball down. So the truth is, I didn’t even see the completion of that final play for the defense. I was thinking all we need to do is go into Victory Formation and take a couple of knees and we are going to be Back to Back Champions.
What a crazy season with everything that happened through out the season. I remember Coach Horton and I going crazy on sidelines, then I looked for Coach Lakis…after 40 years he finally got to mountain top and I was so happy for him. Then you just celebrate with everyone because you have so many people you need to thank and you are so happy for. I also took a moment to step back and watch Eagle Nation and everyone at the game celebrate and thinking this is so AWESOME!
I finally make my way to my Dad and my Brother Scott, who had flown down from Wisconsin and that will be a moment I will never forget us 3 embracing for a group hug. Then the most important part of any Head Coach after a game is to find his wife and kids. Seeing Katie and the kids was the best part of all the celebration. Coaches families sacrifice so much and to see the smiles on their faces was icing on the cake. Nothing better to see Harper and Morgan running around on the field and Katie giving me a hug.
Ty Lyles – Junior Quarterback: The sidelines were hostile and you could feel the heat wave throughout the stadium. The defense just locked in and they were hungry to repeat again. The feeling was great, of course it was nice to finally get back to what we usually do, we took a different route from 2018, but we overcame and got the job done again!
Christoper Davis – Senior Offensive Lineman: After the offense threw the interception, I walked up to Javon Cobbs and said “this is on you now”. I trusted the defense because they always came up big when the offense stalled and we always did the same when they did. It was still a anxiety inducing moment. Everyone was scared, everyone felt the tension in the air and everyone knew the magnitude of this one drive. I’m proud of the defense for stepping up but it’s almost indescribable and you would just have to have been there really.
Ron Horton – Offensive Coordinator: At the end, it was out of our hands. We turned the ball over trying to turn the sticks and finish the game, so the defense had to do what they had been doing all game and during the year and that was making big game winning stops. All I could do was be loud and encourage the guys on the field. Our staff has made adjustments all year whether it was in game or because of a key player being out with injury, so I had no doubt we would get guys in position in the biggest moment to be successful.
During my time at East we have had devastating losses in the closing moments and though I didn’t need a reminder, we sure got one or ten during the last part of the game from Coach Willert. We practice our VICTORY formation every week during the year so the guys knew what to do and how important those last two snaps were. I was just amazed at what we had just accomplished. To lose over 10 starters at some point during the year and to still get back to the mountain top was such a rewarding feeling.
Torrian Jackson – Senior Defensive End: On those back to back plays for sacks, I was fired up ready to get another one. I got another chance but the way I angled…I remember my coach saying up field shoulder, so I changed my angle and he ducked under me I missed him and he had a chance to make me like dumb in front of everyone. I tried to recover and get him but knowing what coverage they were on it was no way their 5 star could catch over our corner and safety.
At the end of it all, with me missing three games in the season due to injury I felt it all come to an end that morning but I know I had a great four years I would do it over if I could but it all played out great.
Jacob Fletcher – Junior Offensive Line: We had thrown an interception and I came off the field after making the tackle and I was pretty frustrated after and I knew the defense had to go back on the field and Cardinal Gibbons had about 2 minutes left on the clock. But I stood there watching with the game on the line and our defense was able to step up and make two sacks that ultimately won us the game.
And then to go back on the field with the offense and kneel the ball was very emotional and to see the clock wind down and to win the game was an awesome feeling after all the things we went through during the season involving injury and just the doubt we had surrounding us. It was just amazing to see us win after having some many times where we could have put the towel in and not found a way to win.
Allen Plaster – Athletic Director: I knew our defense had played well during the game and even scored a touchdown, but still didn’t like them getting the ball near mid field with a chance to tie or go ahead. The sacks were huge, moving them further away and the last throw seemed to hang in the air forever. Being in the press box with Coach Willert and Coach Lawson was probably better than being on the sidelines because we could see the whole series so much better. Best formation in football “Victory Formation”!
About all the injuries during the spring and fall…….I have to give a lot of credit to Coach Willert and his staff, they did not let the players use an injury as an excuse. They continued the “Next man Up” attitude and pushed forward.
SCM: East Forsyth defeated Cardinal Gibbons 24-21 to win the school’s third state title and 2nd in 2 years. Give me your #1 top memory from the season. Who would you name Offensive and Defensive players of the year for the season? Do you keep up with past Eagles players? What advice would you give the kids at East Forsyth today that may be returning to defend their title…what could get in their way for a 4rd state title for the school in 2020?
Head Coach Todd Willert: The Greatness of East Forsyth is the strength and continued support from past players of East Forsyth. I have so many Alumni reaching out to me all the time and it is great. I love to hear what they are doing now, and it makes me so proud of what so many of my past players have accomplished so far in their own personal lives. It is also great to see how many of them attended the game or watch the game on TV. That is what coaching is all about, building relationship, building extended family, building loyalty and building EAGLE PRIDE! #OnceAnEagleAlwaysAnEagle
A great memory for me was the bus ride down and back to Chapel Hill, just taking in the whole moment and watching the excitement and joy on so many people’s faces. The moment of seeing our send off in the morning with KPD leading us out of Kernersville to the KPD leading us back into Kernersville and seeing all the support by fans on the side of the roads as we went through Kernersville. Personally for me was having Dad, Scott (my Brother), Billy (Best Friend from Wisconsin) and Katie, Harper, and Morgan on the bus to be by my side at such a great moment in my life meant everything to me. To have them all experience that bus ride home and through Kernersville is a life time memory. I have a Great Picture of Katie, Harper, Morgan and I on the bus going through Kernersville after the win that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Jacob Fletcher – Junior Offensive Line: Walking out with the team before we had to play Cardinal Gibbons was my best memory, because at that point, I knew all the hard work had paid off and I was with the guys I loved and with coaches that cared about us. I think there is not just one MVP for both sides of the ball because honestly, a lot of guys played great throughout the season and many guys offer different things to the game that others can’t.
I am coming back this season, but for kids on JV or kids who wanna play High school ball one day is just work hard and just do the little things to set yourself apart. And I think we just need to stay humble and play football and things will work itself out.
Allen Plaster – Athletic Director: The one thing I would say to the returning and new players is, “It is hard to drive forward looking through the rear view mirror”. Meaning if you are still looking at the 2019 State Championship Trophy or Ring and not continuing to work and push forward, the 2020 season will not be a good as you want it to be. Athletes never stay the same, you either get better or you get worse!!!!!
Jameson Warren – Junior Wide Receiver: The only advice I can give someone that’s playing for East Forsyth is…if you cant take the heat and don’t wanna win, then this isn’t the school for you.
Aaron Beal – Defensive Coordinator: Being on defense, one of my top memories was this squad holding 4 of the most explosive offenses in the State to 21 points and under in all 4 games.
As far as defensive MVPs I think you have to give it to the entire squad. If 2019 taught us anything it’s not 1 person can do this on their own. It takes everyone!
Robbin Smith – Senior Running Back: Hands down the Glenn game and how it got canceled and of course I’m going to say me for offensive and probably Brick or Mazz for defensive.
Torrian Jackson – Senior Defensive End: My #1 top memory was definitely the Page game, I believe I had about 5 sacks that game at least I thought I did. It was a playground out there I had fun that game…lots of it.
For Offensive POY I’d say Jaden Lindsay…lineman don’t usually get the respect the need but for the backfield to do what they did it started with the front 5. And for defensive, I would definitely say Me. And the only competition for the 2020 team is themselves if they don’t work they won’t succeed and the seniors will feel it.
Ty Lyles – Junior Quarterback: My favorite memory was when we were playing Grimsley in the fourth round, and we stopped them on the one yard line.
Offensive- Jamison Warren and Defensive- Jabez Gorham. Yes, I keep up with players. I would tell them to work for what they want and don’t take any moment for granted. No one knows what could get in the way…
Ron Horton – Offensive Coordinator: It may seem funny but the lost to Reagan is my #1 moment of the year. We made some key adjustments as a unit and team that propelled up to our second title. We as a staff are big on being self critical when facing any type of adversity and that loss was certainly eye opening. From that point on, we were just different.
Christoper Davis – Senior Offensive Line: My number one memory is just the close friends I have gotten. Shout out to Brendan Conway, Tyler Akers, Arturo, LJ, Fletcher, Chanse, Landon, EVERYBODY! These guys have changed my life and grown up with me the last few years. I’m so thankful for everything they have done for me. I wouldn’t change a thing really.
Offensive MVP is hard, because the unit has so many people that did very well. Offensive MVP would be Robbin to me. He stepped up big when Ahmani got hurt, and he carried the offense on his back a few times. He was shifty and easy to block for. Defense had many stars, so it’s hard to choose one, Mccalister and Cobbs come to mind for Defense or Tomaz. The defense was a whole unit that was hard to get through.
If I had any advice for the future EFHS players, I would say always be confident but know your weaknesses. When you are confident in your abilities. you already have then you have an art that you can use to beat your opponent but by knowing your own weakness you can improve them and become a better player.
Head Coach Todd Willert Post-Game State Championship Interview courtesy of Game of Inches HS
SCM: Any last words to teammates, coaches, fans regarding the 2019 season?
Head Coach Todd Willert: First off, I would like to thank you Desmond for doing this story and for doing all 3 seasons for the State Title Football teams at East Forsyth for football.
Next thanks to Jenny Fulton and everyone who helped put the parade together again this year. The town of K-Vegas showed up and showed their love for the Eagles and that means so much. Thank you all for making us feel so loved and special.
Special Shout Out to my family Driver Rick, I hope we get to do do it again soon!!!
I just want to thank everyone who had a hand in helping the 2019 Eagles success. There are so many people, sponsors, and businesses that help East Forsyth and the Football Program succeed and I want you all to know how much that means to me and how grateful I am. Kernersville and East Forsyth is a very special place and I am very lucky to be a part of the greatness that so many have helped to create. Thank you so much EAGLE NATION! Reppin the 336!
Jordan Timmons – Junior Linebacker: It’s been a year to remember, especially coming from another school. I have met brothers that I will always remember & I will always cherish. This year has been so special for me and I want to say that coming back from my senior year, I want to get a fourth state championship for East Forsyth and end my high-school career the right way!
Eric Jones – Asst Defensive Coordinator: I want to take the time to thank every player and trainer on the team. I also want to thank former players of the East Forsyth Football Program. Success could not have happened without all the previous teams and players who help create what we have today. Thank you East Forsyth Student Section and Fans, you are second to none! There is no better fan base and we appreciate how you support
the program on and off the field!
I want to personally shout out the Scout Offense and Defense of teams. People may not know who they are because they may not play a lot on Fridays, but if it wasn’t for this special group of young men who sacrificed every week knowing that they may not play a single snap on Friday but made sure the guys who did play were prepared, we would not be the CHAMPIONS we are today! Thank you all, you know who you are! Love Jones!
Christoper Davis – Senior Offensive Line: I love you guys and will miss all of you! You guys have helped make me into a better man. I am going to miss East but one thing I won’t miss is Coach Wilbert yelling!!! It’s been fun.
Aaron Beal – Defensive Coordinator: This was one of the most mentally tough teams from top to bottom I’ve ever been around. To the players, families, and all of Eagle Nation I say thank you. I also would say enjoy the moment because it flies by. You blink and it’s done. Don’t get caught up on the stuff that doesn’t matter focus on the things that do like being with your kids and your community every Friday night at East Forsyth! The Nest is one of the greatest places in all of HS football and we’re all blessed to be a piece of the puzzle! Eagle Pride!!! Once an Eagle Always an Eagle!!!
Robbin Smith – Senior Running Back: It’s been real.. A life changing four years and I’m proud to do it with all of y’all around and I hope this legacy can live on love all of y’all #7 signing out (peace)
Doug Lakis – Offensive Line Coach: This will be a challenging year for this years team, as we are going through a historical event and have no idea what will come of this. I know though that when we get back to it our guys will lock in on the ultimate goal and be relentless in pursing it! Tough times seem to make us better!
Torrian Jackson – Senior Defensive End: I had great memories with all of y’all it’s been real live…ya live and love it. Take every chance and opportunity you get…All love #5
Allen Plaster – Athletic Director: I would like to thank all the coaches, trainers, and players for their hard work and dedication to the 2019 season. To the community of Kernersville…..Thank You for your support of East Forsyth Athletics!!!!!! We could do it without you all. And to Desmond and Rod………..Thank You for all the support of East Forsyth, your passion and energy for the Eagles Nation, and all your broadcasts (Radio, Podcasts, and the Weekly Show). You have helped brand East Forsyth, have given kids an opportunity to be in front a microphone for interviews, and given the community something to read with the documenting of “Myth Becomes Legend”. Desmond and Rod I look forward to our continued partnership!
Miss a part? The Entire “Myth Becomes Legend” Series is now available at Sportscarolinamonthly.com
Special thanks to Game of Inches HS. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @GameofInches_HS