Jasper, Southridge, Forest Park all 2-0

Photos by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Jasper senior quarterback Blake Mann has rushed for 223 yards and three touchdowns in the first two games for the Wildcats in 2020.


Don’t look now, but Dubois County may be turning into a football hotbed across the board.

Sure, this county has seen success between the three teams it is home to. Jasper has won a state championship in Class 4A, and Southridge has one in Class 2A. Forest Park, which has never won a sectional championship, has also seen some of its successes with winning records and reaching the sectional semifinals in both 2010 and 2019.

They say it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish — but this is a pretty noteworthy start. The Wildcats, Raiders and Rangers are all 2-0, and it’s the first time ever the three teams are 2-0 simultaneously. The ground game of all three teams has helped lift them to the starts that they’ve had. Each one has played stifling defense, and they’ve outscored their opponents by a combined score of 181-29 in the first two weeks of the season.

The coaches of the three local teams all believe this is good for the community, and something that is appreciated as fall sports are in session while the COVID-19 pandemic remains ongoing.

“All three schools — they’ve got great community support in terms of athletics,” Jasper coach Tony Lewis said. “For Forest Park and Southridge to both start 2-0 is great for their community, and I know our community is very excited the start — being able to get back to some normalcy in terms of playing athletics, and we hope to keep it going in the right direction.

“Our kids are enjoying being around each other, and I’m sure their kids are enjoying doing extracurricular activities as well,” Lewis continued. “Because in times like this, you need things to take your mind off of what’s going on.”

Southridge coach Scott Buening believes the county schools, at least on Southridge’s end, like to see the other two schools succeed when they’re not playing one another. He thinks it’s great that everybody is off to such a good start.

“We work together on things and we talk quite often and help each other out,” Buening said. “I just think overall, it’s great to have sports back. It’s great to have the ability to have the kids out playing and doing things that they enjoy.”

Southridge senior Camden Gasser ran in a couple of scores Aug. 28 at Boonville to help the Raiders win their second consecutive 28-0 game. It was the first time since 2013 that they posted back-to-back shutouts.

Buening knows how different things are now, especially with the current environment everybody is in, but he entrusts the medical experts believe this is a good thing. He knows those who govern wouldn’t put anybody in danger or at risk. Buening added they rely on a lot of medical experts who have expertise in the area, and believes they’ve all adjusted with the mask requirements and social distancing.

The Wildcats and Raiders have each made multiple trips to state in their respective histories, while the Rangers are looking to finally turn a corner. Forest Park had no winning seasons from 2011 through 2018, and only one season where it finished at .500 in 2015, but the 2019 Rangers went 6-5, and are now 2-0 for the first time since starting 2-0 each year from 2009-2011.

Rangers coach Ross Fuhs knows success breeds success. More players will want to come out and be part of a successful program with the more winning they can do. That’s the team’s goal for many years. He added it’s a big deal to him, but it’s really about the players. The coaches want Forest Park football to be on the map and a contender on a perennial basis.

“It’s definitely exciting times for the school and community,” Fuhs texted the Herald on Monday. “It’s fun when you’re out and about doing things and people want to talk to you about football. It’s fun when you’re at school and kids come up and say congratulations and looking forward to the next game. Everyone should be excited. We said last year, that class set the bar of our expectations year in and year out. We want to produce a winner each year.”

Forest Park senior Jake Begle has rushed for 284 yards and six touchdowns through his team's first two games of the season.


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