COAL MOUNTAIN — Two years ago, Ben Bales wasn’t exactly sure what his future held in the North Forsyth football program.
The Raiders were transitioning with a new staff and scheme and the then-junior varsity sophomore quarterback was among several inexperienced signal-callers new coach Robert Craft was evaluating.
“We had several guys we were looking at and we tried to create competition in the spring and summer to see what we had,” Craft recalled Tuesday. “Ben worked hard that offseason and won the job going into (the 2016) season and has held onto it ever since.”
And a good thing for the Raiders. Bales currently leads all of Class AAAAAAA quarterbacks in yardage (as of Sept. 22 games) with 1,451 yards on 98-of-165 passes (59.4 percent) with 15 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior may not be flashy or a dual threat like Rabun County’s Bailey Fisher or East Hall’s Austin Parker, but what he may lack running the ball (18 rushes, just 10 yards) he more than makes up for with his ability to see the field and deliver accurate throws.
He is spreading the wealth, so to speak, with four receivers having 150-plus yards and 14 touchdown catches and three receivers with 366-plus yards and 12 TDs on the season so far in a potent attack that is 22nd in scoring in the state’s largest classification and second in a tough Region 5-AAAAAAA. His 15 TD throws already matches his entire 2016 output and his INT rate is far below the 12 he threw in 2016.
The Raiders will open their Region 5-AAAAAAA slate Friday night against county rival Forsyth Central with an eye on making their first playoff appearance since 2013. If Bales can continue to deliver as he has in the first half of the season, he will be a driving force of any playoff run.
Bales is demonstrating that hard work does pay off as he is the spotlight of our next installment in our series the "Year of the Quarterback" in northeast Georgia. To watch a video feature with Bales, simply click "play" above.