Looking back at Forest Park's season that was


FERDINAND — Forest Park football coach Ross Fuhs had a feeling this year was going to be different.

The Rangers had just one winning season in their 11-year history heading into 2019, and only one other year of finishing with a .500 record. Forest Park went 1-9 in 2018, and moved into a new weight room on campus last December. The new equipment in the weight room allowed for more opportunities. Fuhs said putting in the work in the weight room was necessary to win more than one game this year.

He saw his 14 seniors were coaching and encouraging the younger players on the team. The coach said more players bought in this year, and it was during the preseason that he thought this team could make some noise.

“All the coaches kind of said the same thing: ‘This could be a really good year just because our seniors are so involved and want this team to do so well,’” Fuhs said.

Forest Park began the season 1-2, but started to turn things around during the fourth week of the season. The Rangers shut out Tecumseh, 26-0, on Sept. 13, and Pike Central, 42-0, on Sept. 20. That was the first of two times they posted back-to-back shutouts in 2019. Forest Park also recorded two shutouts against Tell City in consecutive weeks. The Rangers shutout the Marksmen, 14-0, in the Oct. 18 regular-season finale, and 9-0 in the first round of the sectional playoffs on Oct. 25.

Fuhs thought the four shutouts were a product of the defense being on the attack more often this year. He thought the defense dictated things during games this year compared to years past when Forest Park’s opponents did the dictating. Fuhs added the pass defense made huge progressions during the season.

The Rangers had some key playmakers on defense, such as senior Gavin Knust. Knust recorded 11.5 sacks, which Fuhs accredited to his strengths, quickness and smarts. He said Knust had the football IQ to tell whether a team was passing or running based on the positioning of their feet. Fuhs added that Knust would watch a lot of YouTube videos on defensive ends, such as J.J. Watt from the Houston Texans.

“He just was a sponge,” he said.

Another game that stood out to Fuhs was a 30-20 win Aug. 30 against Perry Central for the team’s first triumph of the season. That game avenged a 45-0 loss to the Commodores on Aug. 24, 2018. The coach thought that win provided a springboard for the rest of the season. He also mentioned Forest Park’s 14-7 win against South Spencer Oct. 4. It was only the second time in team history the Rangers scored a victory against the Rebels.

Their second win against Tell City fulfilled one of their goals of having a winning record this season. It also marked the first time Fuhs had a winning record coaching the Rangers. He down played his own personal success, though, in favor of the hard work the players put in.

“It was rewarding for me as a coach to see players have success because they put in the time,” he said.


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