Derek Aberly’s pulls down Jeff Johnson’s pass for a 26-yard gain in the first quarter against North Central. Defending is Rob Granquist. The play led to the Trojans’ third TD.
CRYSTAL FALLS—Scoring on its first four possessions, Forest Park had few problems defeating North Central 49-14 here Sept. 21. The Jets’ only touchdowns came on a pair of long passes in the second quarter.
So when the Trojans visit North Dickinson this Friday, Sept. 28, it will be another battle of the unbeatens—two of the best Class D teams in the Upper Peninsula, both 5-0, going facemask to facemask.
“They’re a real strong team this year,” said Coach Bill Santilli about the Nordics, who have four or five senior starters who already started as sophomores. “This is one of the more experienced teams they’ve had in a while.”
Start me up: With two weeks since its last game (due to Ontonagon’s forfeit), Santilli was a little concerned about how his team would come out. No worries. The Trojans were all business.
Right from the start, as Connor Kezerle ran back the opening kickoff 26 yards to the NC 24. Five plays later, Dennis Mongar scored from the 2. Trojans, 6-0.
Their next drive covered 80 yards, boosted by QB Jeff Johnson’s 33-yard pass to Austin Snell down the left sideline. It led to Raymond Tomasik’s 10-yard TD run. Johnson’s kick made it 13-0.
Johnson’s 26-yard pass to Derek Aberly got the Trojans into the red zone again, and Mongar scored from the 4. Trojans, 20-0. Snell’s 27-yard punt return set up the Trojans again, and a 10-yard pass to Snell made it 27-0 early in the second quarter.
Wild second: The Jets fired back with a 65-yard scoring drive that paid off on QB Rob Granquist’s 40-yard pass to Travis Vincent. The kick cut the lead to 27-7.
But after a center snap sailed over the Jets’ punter’s head, FP struck quickly. Tomasik, who tackled the punter at the 4, scored two plays later. Trojans 34-7.
The Jets got that score back on a 58-yard pass from Granquist to Devin Wodrazka; 34-14. Near halftime, Aberly intercepted a Granquist pass and ran it back 22 yards to the Jets 3. Aberly ran it in on first down, giving the Trojans a 41-14 lead.
That was a wild second quarter, with five TDs, three interceptions and the bad snap that set up Tomasik’s score. The game settled down in the second half.
Fast half: The only score came late in the third quarter on a six-play Trojan drive, capped by Zach Painter’s three-yard TD run. Johnson’s pass to Aberly added two to make it 49-14 and start the running clock.
The Jets threatened just once more, after recovering a fumble at the Trojans 25 early in the fourth quarter. But FP’s defense didn’t let them past the 19 and got the ball back on downs.
It was Forest Park’s first game with North Central since 1999. “They’re not a bad team for only having three seniors on their roster,” Santilli noted later. “That young quarterback [Granquist] does a very nice job.”
The sophomore southpaw completed 13 of 31 passes for 178 yards, despite a number of drops. He also intercepted two FP passes.
Too much D: The Trojans’ defense smothered the Jets’ ground game. With seven sacks or tackles for a loss, FP held NC to less than a yard per carry.
“Our offense did real well,” said Santilli. “We blocked extremely well, ran hard and did the things we wanted to do.”
One post-game concern was Snell, who hurt an ankle late in the game. Starting lineman Mac Phillips missed the game due to a foot injury suffered during the week; he may be back for this Friday.
Numbers: Team offense: FP, 299 yards (44-220r, 3-7-79p), NC, 201 (27-23r, 13-31-178p). First downs: FP 14, NC 8. All-purpose yards: FP, 150 (Aberly 52, Snell 46).
Rushing: Raymond Tomasik, 19-95; Lance Mongar, 5-39; Zach Painter, 3-34. Receiving: Austin Snell, 2-43; Derek Aberly, 1-36. Passing: Jeff Johnson, 3-7-79, TD, 2 ints.
Defense: Tackles: Adam Hilberg, 7t-3a; Aberly, Mongar, Johnson, Painter, all 7 total tackles. Sacks: Connor Dalpra, 2; Tomasik, Mongar. Tackles for loss: 3 total, Mongar 1½. Interception: Aberly.
Coming up: It’s North Dickinson, on their turf Sept. 28. Except for their 55-30 win over Stephenson, the Nordics haven’t had many challenges this season, with lopsided wins over Florence, Newberry, Munising and Bark River (40-0 on Sept. 21).
Besides No. 1 in the charts and bragging rights, also at stake will be home field for the playoffs.
Jets 0 14 0 0 -- 14
Trojans 20 21 8 0 -- 49