FORRESTON – After a disappointing loss to Dakota last week and NUIC front-runners Fulton and Lena-Winslow still ahead, a two-loss Forreston football team had something to prove Friday night at home against Galena.
It didn’t take long for Forreston to demonstrate why it’s still one of the elites in Class 1A football. With six minutes left in the first half, the Cardinals held a 38-0 lead against Galena. The final was 46-14.
“We put ourselves in a position to win [against Dakota], but didn’t finish,” Forreston coach Keynon Janicke said. “The first half tonight showed what we are capable of.”
It only took 1:25 for the first touchdown on a five-play, 65-yard drive, with Johnny Kobler going the final 12 yards. Micah Nelson added the PAT run for the 8-0 lead.
To its credit, Galena managed to move to Forreston’s 22-yard line on the ensuing possession, but turned the ball over on downs on a dropped snap on fourth-and-4.
The Cardinals quickly made it 16-0 on a six-play drive, capped by Kaleb Sanders going 37 yards for the score and Quentin Frederick running in the PAT.
The Pirates picked up a couple first downs but were forced to punt, and the unstoppable Cardinals took over at their own 20-yard line. Quarterback Brock Smith efficiently moved his team down the field, with bruising fullback Kobler running over Pirate tacklers.
With Galena crowding the line, Smith found a wide-open Sanders at the back of the end zone on his only passing attempt, but officials ruled it out-of-bounds. Not to worry for the Cardinals, though, as McKeon Crase ran 14 yards for a score on the next play and 22-0 lead early in the second quarter.
“We finished every drive, and were fast,” Janicke said.
Galena, an old-school NUIC power with a roster of only 14 upperclassmen, could not keep up with the speed and physical strength of Forreston. The Cardinals averaged 10 yards a carry and ran for 334 first-half yards.
A three-and-out gave the ball back to Forreston after a punt, and Kobler started the drive with a 17-yard run. Smith added 10 yards, Crase 13 and 14, and Sanders 20 yards at the end of an 80-yard scoring drive.
The Cardinal defense got into the act on the next two Pirate offensive snaps. First, it was linebacker Kyler Ganz with a crushing 3-yard tackle for loss of Sam Eaton. Then, Sanders had a sack of QB John Wubben and forced a fumble. Andrew Wells fell on the loose ball and Forreston started a drive inside Galena territory.
It was Kolber for 14 yards and Sanders another 17 on the two-play scoring drive for a 38-0 lead.
With Forreston’s first-team defense still on the field, Wubben was able to move his team down the field 66 yards for a touchdown. He was 3-for-4 passing on the possession, with Roman Romer grabbing a 13-yarder for the score with under a minute left in the half.
Forreston faces West Carroll next week, before facing a murderer’s row of Fulton, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley and Lena-Winslow. With a 3-2 record, the Cardinals will likely need to win one of those three games, though there is an outside chance that a 4-5 team could make the playoffs.
“We know what is ahead of us,” Janicke said.