St. Ignace ends Trojans’ season at regional finals
Daniel Nocerini gets stacked up by a host of tacklers after a 2-yard run as the St. Ignace defense held Forest Park to just 108 yards of total offense during the regional title game on Nov. 13 in St. Ignace. The Saints controlled both lines of scrimmage in their way 22-8 victory.
ST. IGNACE—Forest Park’s voyage through the 2015 football season was anything but calm and uneventful. The Trojans stumbled out of the gate and had to cope with more than their fair share of adversity, especially injuries.
Despite all their problems, the Trojans put together yet another successful season in Dave Graff’s second year as head coach.
After finishing 5-3, FP avenged two regular-season losses by defeating Lake Linden-Hubbell and Bark River-Harris to win their playoff district. But that magic didn’t make the trip to the Division 8 regional title game on Nov. 13 against host St. Ignace.
The Saints’ defense thoroughly stifled the vaunted Forest Park offense, holding the Trojans to 108 yards and four first downs and keeping them off the scoreboard until the fourth quarter to earn a 22-8 win.
The Saints (11-1) advance to the state semifinal game this weekend against Muskegon Catholic Central, while the Trojans finish their season—their final year of 11-man football—with a 7-4 record.
“We did not execute like we could have,” Graff said after the game, “but against a good team, that happens. St. Ignace is a very solid team up front. There’s no shame in losing to a better team.”
He said he hopes his players don’t feel too bad about the loss, “because overall, for what we had out on the field and how far we got, they should be very proud of the season they had.”
Light snow, propelled by a brisk breeze, played a hand in the game’s first score, late in the first half. Until then, it had been a battle of defenses and punters. For most of the first quarter, neither team could get more than two yards past midfield.
Late in the quarter, the Saints downed a punt at the Forest Park 10. Things didn’t go well for FP, including a holding penalty, and the Trojans were right where they started, at the 10, on fourth down.
But the second quarter had just begun, and punter Zach Robarge had to kick into the breeze, which was having one of its gustier moments. His boot only went 27 yards, and the Saints took over at the Trojans 37.
With QB Gage Kreski at the controls, both running and passing, the Saints earned two first downs before Kreski passed to Andrew Goldthorpe for a 9-yard TD. Kreski ran in the two-point run, and the Saints led 8-0.
Another holding penalty hurt FP after the kickoff. Daniel Nocerini converted on fourth down with a 5-yard run to the Trojan 49, but he couldn’t get the blocking he needed on a loss, slipped on another play, and the Trojans were flagged for a false start.
Forest Park punted again, but this time Robarge banged a good one—33 yards to the Saints 20, where St. Ignace took over and picked up where it left off. This time the big play was a double handoff, with Mitchell Peterson breaking through the left side for 42 yards to the FP 28.
The Trojans dug in and forced 4th and 6, but the Kreski-Goldthorpe connection struck again with an 11-yard gain to the Trojan 13. After a 4-yard pass, Kreski ran a keeper at the left side for a 9-yard TD with 8 seconds left in the half. Nocerini broke up the PAT pass, but the Saints had a 14-0 lead and all the momentum at halftime.
The Trojans’ struggles continued in the third quarter. This time