There he goes! Forest Park’s Austin Snell dashes down the right sideline after catching Jeff Johnson’s pass during the Trojans’ game against Baraga Oct. 5. It was a 31-yard gain to the 8; Snell scored on a sweep one play later.
CRYSTAL FALLS—What better way to celebrate Homecoming week than by clinching another berth in the playoffs?
Forest Park punched its ticket to post-season play here Oct. 5 with a solid 43-8 win over a game but horribly outmanned Baraga squad.
Coach Bill Santilli said that after the Trojans’ loss at North Dickinson a week earlier, his team needed a solid effort against Baraga before the chilly Homecoming crowd.
“It was a good Homecoming for us,” he said. “A good performance by all our young kids.”
Forest Park is now 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the Great Western Conference. Just one team can still claim part of the GWC title—the Gogebic Miners—and the Trojans face them Oct. 13 at Wakefield. “The conference is still within our grasp,” said Santilli, “and we control our own destiny.”
Hot start: The Trojans came out hot on a cold night. Less than a minute after the kickoff, Derek Aberly took a handoff around the right side and down the sideline for a 48-yard TD. Jeff Johnson’s kick put FP ahead 7-0.
In a change after the ND game, Aberly started at tailback. “Derek’s a senior,” said Santilli. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence. Dennis Mongar is another senior—we need to get him a few more touches. He’s blocking well.
“We’re hoping these position changes can be ready for a good Gogebic team next week and field a little stronger lineup come playoff time.”
Punt problems: Raymond Tomasik’s blocked punt set up the Trojans for their second score at the Baraga 23. Three plays later, Mongar burst through the line for a 17-yard score. The kick missed, but FP led 13-0.
The Vikings’ next punt was shanked (20 yards), giving the Trojans first down at the Baraga 34. Johnson’s 22-yard pass to Tomasik earned a first down at the 12. The drive stalled, but Johnson kicked an 18-yard field goal for a 16-0 lead.
All but one play in the first quarter was on the Vikings’ half of the field. When a fake punt on fourth down failed, FP started the second quarter at the Baraga 45. Baraga held until fourth down, when Aberly went around the right and cut back for a 41-yard TD and a 23-0 lead.
Later, the Trojans drove 68 for another score, with passes to Austin Snell gaining 15 and 31 yards. Snell scored on an eight-yard run. It was 29-0 at halftime.
Viking pride: A proud program with many playoff appearances, Baraga has endured a rough 2012 and only had 13 players dressed to face the Trojans. Though winless, the Vikings had a lot of fight in them, played hard and didn’t act like a doormat on the field.
Baraga nearly scored on the second half kickoff, running a reverse for a 40-yard return--Snell’s tackle saved the touchdown. But FP’s Kevin Nocerini and Aberly forced a fumble that Tomasik recovered at the Trojan 27.
The Vikings held and forced a punt—but it was dropped, and Connor Dalpra fell on it for FP. On the next play, Johnson passed to Snell down the right side for a 47-yard TD. 36-0, and time for the running clock.
Later, Billy Ragio’s 55-yard punt return gave FP a first down at the Viking 5, and Ragio scored from there. 43-0. No shutout, though. The Vikings earned five late first downs. QB Jon Kaster scored on a keeper, and Dillon Huckstaedt added the two-pointer for a 43-8 final score.
Young blood: Santilli said 26 different Trojans earned defensive statistics, “which was great for a Homecoming game.”
“A lot of different guys got a chance to play. I thought we played well. We gave up that one score near the end, but the guys who were playing out there did a pretty good job.”
The entire fourth quarter, he noted, was played with junior varsity-level players—of the top four Trojans in tackling stats, three were freshmen. “A pretty good night for the young kids.”
Numbers: Offense: FP, 325 (17-208r, 4-11-117p), Bar 107 (43-107r, 0-6-0 p). First downs: FP 7, Bar 8.
Rushing: Derek Aberly, 7-120; Dennis Mongar, 3-33; Billy Ragio, 4-19. Receiving: Austin Snell, 3-94; Raymond Tomasik, 1-23. Passing: Jeff Johnson, 4-11-117.
Defense: Tackles: Mitch Bal, 4t-6a; Connor Kezerle, 6t-3a; Adam Hilberg, 6t-3a; Ryan Silva, 7t-1a. Sacks: 2 (Colton LaChapelle, Silva-Kyle Soderberg). Forced fumbles: 2 (Aberly, Kevin Nocerini-Aberly). Blocked punt: Tomasik. Batted pass: Silva. Tackles for loss: 8 total.
Coming up: The Trojans head to Wakefield Oct. 13 to face the Gogebic Miners, who are 3-1 in the GWC and 4-2 overall.
You knew them as the Bessemer Speedboys, but it’s a co-op with Wakefield-Marenisco now. This year the team adopted a new name and new colors—green and black. If they beat the Trojans, the Miners can claim part of the GWC title and a playoff berth in their first year.
Vikings 0 0 0 8 -- 8
Trojans 16 13 14 0 -- 43