Consistency at quarterback and steady improvement in other facets of the game propelled East Forsyth’s junior varsity to an 8-2 record. The Eagles were undefeated in five games against city-county teams. Their only losses came at the hands of two Greensboro schools – Page and Northwest Guilford.
East Forsyth managed to stay afloat in spite of injuries and losing several players who were moved up to the varsity squad. “This team faced some adversity, but found a way to persist and overcome,” said Coach Ronnie Horton. “They embraced hard work and they found out how much it paid off in helping us win close games. Over the course of the season, our kids continued to grow and mature and they never gave up on each other.”
The Eagles got solid results from a productive ground game spearheaded by center Caleb Maine, who served as a steadying force on the offensive line. Opposing teams had their hands full in attempting to slow down a mini-committee of running backs, which included D.J. Holland, Rashon Goode and Antwan Rhyne.
At quarterback, Noah Smith performed well in his first year as a starter. Smith’s knowledge of the offense and his leadership, Horton explained, is the key reason behind the Eagles’ offensive proficiency. “Noah is very consistent. You know what he’s going to give you day in and day out,” said Horton. “He made everybody around him better.”
The passing game got a big boost later in the season with the development of Levon McCullum and Rhyne, who stepped in when injuries and player promotion decimated the Eagles receiving corps. McCullum, a 6-feet-3 freshman, emerged as a reliable target. Over the last four games of the season, Rhyne got more playing time as a slot receiver, who excelled in gaining yards after making the catch.
“We had a good season, but it could’ve been better,” said Ryhne, a sophomore. “I feel like we played up to our potential. What I enjoyed the most was being able to run the ball and being able to step in hen needed.”
On defense, Jayquan Thompson was the key figure on the front line. Tim Fiore, Chandler Brinson and Stephen Badger emerged as a formidable threesome at the linebacker slots. In the secondary, Sadarius Crump, Brandon Tate, Patrick Stanfield and LaShay Surratt delivered tight pass coverage and solid support in stopping the run.
“All season long when we really needed stops,” said Horton, “the defense came through for us.”