With plenty of Nordics in pursuit, Forest Park’s Brett Hietala turns upfield after catching a pass from QB Jeff Johnson (18, far right).
FELCH—This just in: North Dickinson’s football team is really, really good.
The Nordics were more than ready for Forest Park’s visit on Homecoming night here Sept. 28. They struck for three early touchdowns, gained 516 yards on offense (with two backs totaling 390 yards by themselves) and flattened the Trojans 55-27.
ND remains a perfect 6-0, while the Trojans take their first loss and are now 5-1. Forest Park should clinch its playoff berth this Friday, Oct. 6, but its future is now clear: Any 2012 playoff run will mean a rematch with ND, on their home field, and the Nordics are loaded.
It’s a reality check. “I’m still very pleased to be 5-1 at this time of the season,” said Coach Bill Santilli. “But look at the two games we had against quality opponents.
“We gave up 440 [yards offense] against Hurley and 516 against ND. You’re not going to beat anybody when you give up those kind of numbers!”
Bouncing balls: Fumbles aplenty at the beginning. The Trojans lost the opening kickoff to ND, who fumbled it back on their first play. After the Trojans went three-and-out, North Dickinson bobbled the punt return—but recovered.
On the next play, Tim Hruska broke through the right side, into the clear and was gone for an 82-yard touchdown. Nordics 7-0.
Three plays after the kickoff, Raymond Tomasik lost the ball on a run—it landed right in Cody Berg’s mitts, and Berg ran it back 47 yards for six points. Nordics, 13-0.
Two plays after the kickoff, Trojan QB Josh Johnson was intercepted by Ken Pekarek—FP’s third turnover in under four minutes. ND drove 54 yards to score in nine plays, with QB Pekarek scoring on a four-yard keeper. Hruska’s convert put the confident Nordics ahead 19-0.
Forest Park got going when Dennis Mongar’s kick return set them up past midfield. After running 15 yards for a first down, Johnson bobbled the next snap from shotgun formation—and threw a 31-yard TD pass to Derek Aberly down the right sideline. The kick missed, but the lead was down to two possessions, 19-6.
More from ND: Not for long, though. The Trojan defense forced 4th and 4, but Pekarek connected with Berg down the right sideline for a 43-yard TD, and ND led 25-6.
Later, an Nordics misdirection play left the spectators guessing who had the ball—while Dominic Christian broke through the middle and dashed 73 yards for another ND score. 31-6.
No more scoring in the last 7:56 of the half. The Trojans drove from their 11 to the Nordics 16 in the final minutes, helped by 15- and 20-yard Johnson keepers. With time running out, Johnson tried a 33-yard field goal that missed.
Second half: Forest Park narrowed the lead early in the third quarter on a three-play drive: Johnson ran for 12, passed to Aberly for 36, then dashed the final 22 yards for the score. Nordics, 31-14.
No Trojan comeback was in the cards, though. North Dickinson got it right back, and Christian hit another quickie up the middle for 43 yards and a score--39-14. “They just made too many big plays,” Santilli said. “That’s a credit to their team.”
Forest Park fired back. Johnson’s 50-yard pass to Zach Painter put FP at the Nordics 25, and Austin Snell dashed down the left sideline for a 19-yard TD. Nordics, 39-20.
Resilient: Yet again, the Nordics quickly got the points back, driving 72 yards to score on Matt Schultz’s three-yard run. Nordics, 47-20. Early in the fourth quarter, Hruska scored on a 47-yard run. Hruska ran in both two-pointers, and ND now led 55-20.
It also started the running clock with 7:48 left to play. Enough time for a 57-yard Trojan scoring drive, ending with Painter’s one-yard TD. Johnson’s kick made it a 55-27 final score.
“Every guy across the board felt terrible [after the game],” said Santilli, “because they all thought they could play better.”
A measure: Each year, FP’s coaches evaluate their team after the Week 6 game with the Nordics. “We’ll probably make some adjustments based on what we see in the film, and we’ll go on from there and try to put our best foot forward.”
But the measuring stick this year is North Dickinson, and that will be a very tough standard to meet.
Numbers: Team offense: FP, 385 (37-229r, 7-18-156p), ND, 516 (44-461r, 2-4-55p). First downs:
Rushing: Jeff Johnson, 12-120; Dennis Mongar, 12-63; Austin Snell, 3-22; Raymond Tomasik, 8-20. Passing: Johnson, 7-16,156; Snell, 0-2-0. Receiving: Derek Aberly, 5-94; Zach Painter, 1-49; Brett Hietala, 1-13. ND rushing: Tim Hruska, 10-194; Dominic Christian, 21-186; Matt Schultz, 5-47.
Defense: Tackles: Aberly, 10t-1a; Tomasik, 3t-7a; Johnson, 6t-1a; Carlton Isaacson, 4t-3a. Forced fumbles: Colton LaChapelle, Mongar. Sack: Johnson. Tackle for loss: Adam Hilberg. Fumble recovery: Steven Hallmann.
• Coming up: It’s Homecoming at Forest Park on Oct. 5, as the Trojans host Baraga. The Vikings were plastered 55-6 by Hurley on Sept. 28, dropping their record to 0-6. Expect a fast second half.
Trojans 6 0 14 7 -- 27
Nordics 19 12 16 8 -- 55