Denmark and West Forsyth face off in 7A regional title showdown

The 7A Region 6 championship game tomorrow night featuring the Denmark Danes and the West Forsyth Wolverines has the potential to be one of the most intriguing region championships of the year anywhere in the state. The Danes and Wolverines both have first year coaches who have progressed throughout the season to set up this massive season finale. Despite COVID-19 each head coach has had instant success in just their first seasons and now have led both of their teams to the region title game. The strong showing this season by these two programs has really peaked the interest of the fans across the state and both programs seem to be headed in the right direction for the foreseeable future with these two great new head coaches coaches leading the way.

Head Coach Mike Palmieri has gotten the Danes to post a 5-3 overall record and a 5-0 region record in just the school’s third year of existence. The Danes offensively have been very productive ever since their slow start season once injuries were overcome and playmakers began filling into their respective roles. The Danes are in the midst of a five-game winning streak that coincides with the return of their starting senior quarterback Aaron McLaughlin. Since his return, the Danes have played a lot better on both on offense and defense. Coach Palmieri commented on how McLaughlin’s comeback has given this team an extra boost.

“Yeah Aaron was hurt to start the season and we’ve had some young guys in there at quarterback,” said Palmieri. “Now since he’s come back it’s really helped our team, you know Aarons a leader, and since his return he’s really strengthened this team both offensively and defensively.”

Within the Danes offense, the pass and run has seemed to be their formula of success, particularly with the leadership of McLaughlin and the production of sophomore running back Amon Williams out of the backfield. The two of these players will need to continue having big impacts in order for the Danes to maintain their hot streak. According to Coach Palmieri there will be opportunities for these guys to make plays when the time comes and he also shared what he would like to see when the hit the field this Friday.

“You know not to do too much,” said Palmieri. “They’re both great players and we just need those guys to make plays when we need them to make them. Overall we just need to play a solid football game don’t try to do too much and don’t turn the ball over.”

Winning their first region championship in just the third year of the programs existence and its first in Class 7A would be a historic milestone for the young Danes program. This would without a doubt bring so much positive attention to the team and to Coach Palmieri. The Danes are currently undefeated in one of the toughest regions in all of the state, but have not cracked the top 10 of the 7A class rankings due to their slow start to the season. A victory tomorrow night, however, could change everything with the Danes playing for the chance to have home field throughout the playoffs. Coach Palmieri expressed his feelings of what winning the region as the first year head coach would mean for the players, the school and himself.

“It would mean a lot,” said Palmieri. “You know, this is just the second year that our program has had a senior class and we only have 38 kids on our roster this year, so to win our first region championship would be really great for the school and for our community. Personally, for me it would be great because coming from another state and being a first year coach it would be special. Being a new program nobody expected us to get to this point so we have a chance to do something great here.”

As for the Wolverines, head coach Dave Svehla has gotten his team to perform at a high level as well. Being a first year coach too, the Wolverines are 6-3 and have a 4-1 region record. Coach Svehla and the coaching staff have done a remarkable job in getting this team to believe and fight hard. Just like the Danes, they aren’t ranked in the top 10 of the 7A class either, but here they are in the region title game with a chance to win for the second time since 2012. Their success this season has been just as impressive as Denmark’s and Coach Svehla spoke about how this has been possible.

“Well I think it starts with the kids we have and also starts with our coaching staff,” said Svehla. “Our players have worked and played really hard this year to get us where we’re at, and we’ve done a good job of keeping the team focused and prepared.”

Part of that quick success have come from the play of the players on offense and defense. The Wolverines have a team that looks pretty balanced offensively. Receivers Oscar Delp and T.J. Jennings have both recorded over 300 receiving yards thus far and senior running back Daba Fofana has rushed for over 700 yards this season. Through the air sophomore quarterback Keegan Stover has 15 touchdown passes and just 1 interception. Defensively, the Wolverines have 13 interceptions and 17 sacks and they are also coming off a four-game win streak heading into the region title game. Coach Svehla spoke about what he thinks makes his team so balanced.

“I wouldn’t say great in my opinion, but I what we’ve done is our coaches have done an excellent job of pointing out our strengths and weaknesses and our staff has also been able to put our team in the best position to be successful and it’s shown on the field,” said Svehla.

Coach Svehla also talked about what it would mean to him and the team to clinch a region championship tomorrow night and expressed the importance of how the players would view this type of game and how a victory would be something special for them to celebrate.

“I think it would be great for our players and for the school because due to a COVID year that we’re having these players have worked so hard and have overcome so much adversity that if we do indeed win this game they deserve it because those guys have earned every bit of it.” Svehla said. “For me personally, I could care less. It doesn’t really make much difference to me if we win the region, but for our players this would be amazing for them to enjoy and celebrate the moment.”

Friday night’s matchup should turn out to be one of the best games of the year and one of the best region title games on the slate. Both teams have played pretty solid all season and this game could be close from start to finish. It will be interesting to watch what both coaches do, throughout this game and who will either stick to or adjust the game plan to better give their team a chance at victory. Both coaches have an opportunity to win their first region title at these respective programs and the stories will be captivating regardless who wins. The Danes will either win their first region title in school history or they will have to wait a little longer, but once the playoffs begin we will find out which team and coach can make it to their first state championship game. Even if that doesn’t happen this season it should be something we keep our eyes on for years to come.



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