Trojans’ season ends with last-minute defeat
CRYSTAL FALLS—The Forest Park football team had its deficiencies this year – low numbers and a lack of speed being the primary deficits.
But one thing the Trojans had in abundance was a fighting spirit. And that spirit, along with its traditionally strong running game, nearly carried Forest Park into the semifinals of the MHSAA Division 2 eight-player tournament.
However, in the end, the Trojans fell a play or two short of defending their state championship, losing a back-and-forth clash to Rapid River 40-34 on Nov. 2 in Rapid River. With the loss, Forest Park closes its season at 6-5, while the Rockets (8-3) move on to host Cedarville (7-4) in one semifinal.
Rapid River’s Nate Olson hit Sam Orth with a 19-yard touchdown pass with 1:19 remaining to finally separate the two teams that had produced a thrilling playoff contest.
“It was a heck of a battle,” FP coach Dave Graff said. “Overall, I thought we played as hard as we could. When I look back on it, it was one play here or there. Unfortunately, fatigue maybe got the better of us in the end.”
Both teams staged a wild offensive first half, each scoring four touchdowns. FP got things started by driving down the field on the first possession, which ended on a 1-yard scoring plunge by C.J. Post and a 2-point conversion.
Rapid River wasted no time in knotting the score. Brent Lundquist found Tyler Sundling open for a 73-yard touchdown pass and after the 2-point conversion, the game was back to level.
The play was indicative of what Rapid River was able to accomplish offensively, taking advantage of big plays to catapult its offense. Besides their game-winner, the Rockets also scored on a 63-yard pass, a 61-yard pass, a 53-yard run and a 98-yard pass.
“For us speed has been an issue all year,” Graff said. “In eight-man, it has a lot to do with athleticism and it often comes down to one-on-one match ups. So we tried to isolate the matchups to our strengths and were able to move the ball down the field and score. Likewise, they were able to take advantage of our weakness and lit us up through the air.”