This never gets old! Forest Park players triumphantly hold up the Division 8 district trophy they won by defeating North Dickinson 42-21 on Nov. 4.
FELCH—When Forest Park’s Jacob Siler stayed down on the North Dickinson turf early in the second quarter of their district title game and later was helped off, Trojan fans had to be fearing the worst.
Siler, after all, had just been voted Little Five offensive player of the year after an incredible season. Now he was out of action. What to do?
Enter Jed Mongar. All Mongar did in relief of Siler was score four touchdowns and run for 150 yards, powering FP past the Nordics 42-21. “He was a very important piece of the puzzle,” Coach Bill Santilli said later.
That means the Trojans will hit the road for St. Ignace this Friday, Nov. 11, for the regional title game. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. Central Time (7 Eastern). The Saints are a perfect 11-0 this season, and the Trojans are 9-1.
Siler got hit hard several times early in the game--his legs were taken out as he ran for a two-yard TD late in the first quarter. Two plays into the Trojans’ next possession, he charged into the line for a two-yard gain … and stayed on the ground a minute or two before walking to the sidelines. He never returned.
“He had gotten hit low on that touchdown run,” Santilli said the next day, “and his knee was bothering him, and then he took a couple shots around the head area.
“Definitely, it was not a concussion, but he was groggy, and we just figured we’d try to survive without him.” When Siler asked to re-enter the game in the second half, the coaches told him no.
FP first tried Dennis Mongar and Zach Painter, but Jed Mongar’s speed and strong running won him the job. On defense, linebackers took over Siler’s play-calling responsibilities.
Trojan misplays early in the game gave North Dickinson a boost. The opening kickoff was mishandled, FP started from its 10 and punted from its 9. ND started from the Trojan 40 and scored on eight plays, with Dominic Christian scoring from the 1, Brad Gustafson’s extra point put ND ahead 7-0.
Forest Park came back to score on nine plays, including QB Michael Smithson’s 25-yard pass to Alex Takala. The Nordic defense keyed on Siler, who made slow progress until bursting around the left for 20 yards to the 2. He scored on the next play--that’s when he got that hit that flipped him forward. Jed Mongar’s two-point run put the Trojans ahead 8-7.
Siler’s exit later didn’t slow down the Trojan attack. Dennis Mongar ran for 15, to the Nordic 40, and Smithson passed to Tyler Lovato for 25, to the ND 12. From there, Dennis Mongar scored around left end. Smithson’s conversion pass was dropped: Trojans 14, Nordics 7.
ND had to punt right away but got the ball back when on a first down fumble at the Trojan 35. ND stayed on the ground, got one first down but was shut down by FP’s defense on 4th and 2 at the FP 17.
Late in the half, the Trojans got a big break when a punt was dropped, and Lovato fell on it at the Nordic 48. A pass interference penalty and an 11-yard pass to Derek Aberly earned a first down at the ND 15, but Smithson’s second down pass was intercepted by Bryon Harper.
Only up 14-7 as the second half started, Forest Park made its own luck: Aberly hit ND’s kick returner, the ball came loose, and Cody McGregor recovered at the Nordic 14. Two plays later, Jed Mongar took a pitch around the right for a 13-yard score. Jeff Johnson kicked the extra point, and FP led 21-7.
Before long, the Trojans got the ball back at its 32 and scored in nine plays. Jed Mongar took every handoff, including a 28-yarder to the ND 34 and later a 16-yarder for the TD. Johnson’s kick made it 28-7 late in the third quarter.
One play after ND’s first pass of the game (QB Ken Pekarek to Harper for 14 yards), Christian broke through the middle for a 56-yard TD. Gustafson’s kick cut the lead to 28-14.
Mongar’s running took the momentum right back. He gained 27 to the Nordics 42. Early in the fourth quarter, ND forced 4th and 7 at their 26, Smithson handed off to Johnson—this year’s JV quarterback—who passed to Jed Mongar for a 26-yard score. Johnson’s kick gave FP a 35-14 lead.
ND scored again in three plays, on a 47-yard scoring pass from Pekarek to Dillon Steinbrecher. After the kick, it was 35-21 with 8:55 left.
After that, Forest Park kept the Nordics backed up. FP downed a punt at the ND 13, a second down handoff came loose, and Colton LaChapelle recovered at the 13. Zach Painter ran it to the 1, and Jed Mongar got the score. Johnson’s kick made it 42-21 with 2:24 to play.
Down by three scores, ND passed for two first downs before losing the ball on downs, and Smithson took a knee to end the game.
The Trojans finished with 328 total yards (50 for 241 rushing) to ND’s 275 (33 for 172 rushing) and led 12-7 in first downs. (FYI: Only three penalties were called all night.)
Jed Mongar ran 28 times for 150 yards. Siler had 12 for 54, and Dennis Mongar added 7 for 30. Smithson completed 3 of 7 passes for 87 yards, and Johnson completed his only pass for the 26-yard TD. Takala, Lovato, Aberly and Jed Mongar had one catch each.
Zach Painter led the defense with seven tackles and two assists, followed by Aberly (6-1) and Raymond Tomasik (2-3). Lovato, McGregor and LaChapelle all recovered fumbles, and Lovato also had a sack.
For ND, Pekarek completed 5 of 11 passes for 103 yards. Christian carried 15 times for 107 yards.
After the game, Santilli talked about his assistants’ role in the win: Dave Graff, designing the defense; Dan LaPoint, back from his coaching duties in Sheboygan Falls to help in the booth; JV Coach Gerard Valesano also in the booth, talking to Graff; and JV Assistant Gene Giuliani, working with the linemen.
“Everybody is taking care of one facet of the game. Our full staff was on top of things, and they do a wonderful job for us.”
• The Trojans make the long haul to St. Ignace for the regional title game this Friday, Nov. 11. The teams have met twice in playoffs. The Saints shut out FP 26-0 in 1983, while FP edged them 30-26 in their regional title clash at the Superior Dome in 2008.
The Saints are unbeaten so far in 2011. Their closest games were a 26-21 win over Charlevoix in Week 1 and a 14-13 thriller over Maple City Glen Lake in Week 8. They defeated Munising (33-8) and Rudyard (55-22) in their playoff district.
St. Ignace is ranked by the MHSAA as a Class C school, as are seven of its nine regular season foes. Only two opponents reached the playoffs—Munising and Rudyard—and the Saints eliminated both of them.
Trojans 8 6 14 14 -- 42
Nordics 7 0 7 7 -- 21