South Forsyth looking for upset over Roswell in first-ever game at Georgia State Stadium

Roswell football fans. Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

The South Forsyth War Eagles will look to spoil the season opener of the two-time state runner-up Roswell Hornets in Friday’s 5:30 p.m. game at Georgia State Stadium, the first football game to be played there. The game will also mark the first meeting between the two programs.

Roswell head coach Matt Kemper has replaced former coach John Ford, who took the head coaching job of the Buford Wolves. Kemper led Johns Creek to an 8-3 season and its first-ever region championship in 2016 before being hired by Roswell. Roswell opened the season last year with an impressive 24-7 victory over Buford in the Corky Kell Classic. The Hornets continued winning and put together a 14-game win streak before falling to Grayson in the championship game. It marked the second straight year that Roswell’s only loss came in Georgia’s final high school football game of the season.

This spring, the Hornets set a program record with nine Division 1 signees, leaving many holes on the depth chart and allowing space for younger talent to grow into numerous roles.

Roswell’s top recruits are senior tight end Tyneil Hopper and senior dual-threat quarterback Cordell Littlejohn. Kemper will look to utilize Littlejohn and deep threat Hopper to attack downfield while still keeping teams honest with the running game by opening lanes for senior running back Joseph Daniels. Meanwhile, junior cornerback Josh Reid displayed skill and leadership on defense in the Hornets’ 2017 spring football game against North Forsyth in which Reid returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown. The Hornets are looking to win their third region title in a row in Region 4-AAAAAAA.

Littlejohn moved from North Carolina after his 2016 season and brings a dynamic skill set running and throwing the ball. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound quarterback has a number of FBS offers and is a consensus 3-star prospect.

On the opposing bench, head coach Jeff Arnette and South Forsyth will look to continue their recent success. In 2015, Arnette took the South Forsyth football program to new heights when the War Eagles finished the season with an 11-2 record, marking the program’s highest win total ever.

The 2016 campaign saw the Eagles finish 7-4 despite having to fight through injury at the end of the season. Drew Morris, the third-string quarterback, was called on when starter Davis Shanley went down with an injury and Cal Morris, Drew’s older brother, was also injured. In the younger Morris’ three starts, the Eagles lost only one game, 30-27 to Parkview in the first round of the playoffs. This season, Cal looks to be the expected starter with Drew as a backup.

South Forsyth must overcome a very difficult non-region schedule to begin the 2017 season. The War Eagles will face Roswell to begin the season then later will cross paths with South Gwinnett and Lassiter. The War Eagles finished the 2016 season tied for first in their region by going 4-1 in league play. This year, however, is a tougher task with three of their five region games on the road. South Forsyth has two region titles to its name (1997 and 2015).

The Eagles, however, are poised for the challenge. They will draw on the experience of senior running back and linebacker Jared Honey and defensive end Ryan LaFlamme. LaFlamme, who will be a four-year starter, will be a key component in the pass rush from his defensive end position. On the other side of the ball, Arnette trusts the elder Morris to handle the offensive scheme, a scheme run by offensive coordinator Troy Morris, Drew and Cal’s father. The offense is based on the Pistol formation and can be run up-tempo or slowed down depending on the game scenario.

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