Blair Bowl: Demons take on the Vikings

Bo Dalrymple, Staff Writer

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Reynolds Varsity Football visited North Forsyth last Friday night, with hopes of winning their second game on the season. Not only was this a good opportunity to improve their record, but it was a meaningful game for returning players and coaches. 

For the first time in four years, Jay Blair sat on the opposing sideline. Graduating from Reynolds in 1998, Blair went on to play football at ECU, and after a short time as a professional returned to coach at his alma mater where he has been inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame.

“I love those guys that’s over there, the players, coaches. They helped me become who I am,” Blair said. “I love my school, I will always love my school, but right now I’m the head coach of North Forsyth High School, and my heart is with North Forsyth High School.”

With a record over the past two seasons of 1-21, Blair has stepped into a difficult role of re-establishing a successful program to North Forsyth. But these aspirations mean much more than a winning record.

“In the beginning I told people it wouldn’t be quantified by wins and losses …. it would be quantified by how many young men I help change their lives,” Blair said. “That’s what Reclaiming the North is all about, changing the culture in this area, in this school – and it starts with my football team.”

Blair has always wanted to begin a program of his own, and credits his time as a sports marketing teacher and coach and Reynolds for preparing him.

“I wouldn’t be the coach I am today without my experiences at RJ Reynolds High School from playing, to coming back and coaching,” Blair said “Learning from the kids at Reynolds High School about how to go about teaching them and molding them and help them become better at what they do, and bring that over to North Forsyth and leaning on the coaching staff that I have, has been impactful.”

Off the field, Blair has many goals for his team: higher GPAs, less disciplinary incidents, and 500 hours of service in the community.

“Right now we’re at 381 hours, so that’s changing the culture, getting to class on time, that’s changing the culture, anything from not wearing your pants below your waist to not wearing a hat in the building,”  Blair said.

On the field, Blair was all business heading into the game. The Demons matched that intensity, but numerous penalties slowed down the play of both sides. 

It wasn’t until late in the first quarter that Reynolds scored, when junior quarterback Caden Davis found junior Antonio Yates in the back of the end zone. Early into the second quarter, Yates shifted the momentum by recovering a fumble for a touchdown, and capped off an impressive first half when he caught a second touchdown. 

“I was just capitalizing on things, the plays that were there,”  Yates said.

Both Reynolds and North exchanged turnovers throughout the second half, but a punt return for a touchdown by Yates sealed the deal late in the fourth quarter. The final score was 29-7 Reynolds. 

For the Reynolds players, much of who were coached last year by Blair, the formula was simple.

“Just play hard, make plays and be playmakers like we are,” Yates said.

Photo by Bo Dalrymple