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West Stanly football opens season at home with RRC’s Forest Hills

The West Stanly football team had not played a varsity game on the field in 483 days before Friday’s home game versus Forest Hills.

West had a scrimmage and two non-conference games all canceled, forcing the Colts to open their season against Forest Hills, one of the conference’s winningest programs traditionally.

With the season moving to the spring, West Stanly also had to play without standout Jordan Poole, who graduated early to play spring football for N.C State University.

The Jackets, under first-year head coach Jammie Deese, had two games under their belt coming into Friday’s game, including a 14-12 come from behind win over Union Pines.

But West Stanly’s defense shut down Forest Hills’ offense and got rushing contributions from multiple players in a 21-0 shutout win.

The Colts (1-0, 1-0 RRC) limited the Jackets to six first downs in the game and 12 yards passing, forcing two turnovers. West also limited Forest Hills to 0-of-5 on third-down conversions.

“We weren’t on defense that much. Our defensive line put good pressure (on the Jackets),” junior linebacker Gavin Hudson said.

“(Linebacker) Seth Efird had a great game,” he added, noting new safety Khaleel McAuley’s interception in the third quarter. McAuley picked off a Jayden McDougall pass in the end zone, stopping the Jackets’ most productive drive of the night.

Offensively, West controlled the line of scrimmage with 274 net rushing yards on 56 carries. Braden Hartsell and Blake Helms led West with 87 and 79 rushing yards, respectively, while Logan Little, Jordan Manshack and Hudson also scored rushing touchdowns.

The Colts also dominated time of possession, having the ball 34:17 to 13:43 for Forest Hills (1-2, 0-1 RRC).

Manshack, the starting quarterback for West, said the first half was a little rough. However, in the second half, the offense was “amazing.”

The senior said playing Forest Hills to open the season was tough, but he was proud of his teammates’ efforts, especially the offensive line “which is what got the offense going.”

Manshack said he and his teammates knew they would be able to move the ball, but without the explosive big-play nature of Poole in the lineup, drives would be longer with shorter runs.

Hudson said it was great to just be able to go out and play a game.

“Two weeks ago when they canceled our scrimmage, I was about to go crazy at my house. We were excited to get out here and knock some heads,” Hudson said.

Friday’s shutout was the first shutout by West over the Jackets since an 8-0 win in 1972.

It was the fourth win in a row for the Colts over Forest Hills in a series where the Jackets have won 34 out of 45 games since 1962.

West head coach Brett Morton said the mistakes his team made showed they were two weeks behind.

“There’s absolutely no substitution for being in a game playing at game speed,” Morton said. “(Forest Hills) had a good game plan. They forced us to adjust on defense.”

West had 10 penalties in the game and allowed four quarterback sacks, but did not turn the ball over on offense.

“We finally got adjusted in the second half doing what we needed to do to move the ball,” Morton said.

West Stanly goes on the road Friday to play Central Academy (0-2, 0-1 RRC), who lost at Mount Pleasant Friday night 49-0.

“We’re a one week at a time bunch. (Our players) can go as far as they want to go,” Morton said.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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