Ranger football features 12 seniorsAugust 17, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
FERDINAND — Forest Park football has turned it around with back-to-back winning seasons these past couple of years, and now, the Rangers are tasked with trying to set the bar even higher.
They went 6-5 in 2019, and 6-4 in 2020. Forest Park is still out to try to play in its first-ever sectional championship game and also try to win the Pocket Athletic Conference’s Small School Division. The Rangers will have 12 seniors on their squad this year to try to make that happen.
“The biggest thing with this group, it’s like extra coaches on the field,” Rangers coach Ross Fuhs said of his seniors.
Many of these seniors have a lot of experience with the program, including Cooper Uebelhor, who got looks at the position dating back to his freshman year. Fuhs believes Uebelhor has shown a lot of confidence since taking over the job as an underclassman. The 10th-year coach lauded him for knowing the offense, and that he looked good in 7-on-7 action this year.
The Rangers will continue to be run-heavy, but this year’s run game will differ from prior years. They previously relied heavily on Drew Day at the fullback spot, and Jake Begle eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards last year in that position following Day’s graduation.
However, Forest Park is doing more stuff by committee this year. The Rangers are rotating in three different fullbacks in senior Austin Hoppenjans and brothers Ethan Beckman and Aaron Beckman — a senior and sophomore, respectively. They also have a handful of options who will rotate at wingback, including freshman Tyler Fetter and sophomore Joel Bueltel.
The Rangers might not have a definitive go-to back at this very moment, but Fuhs thinks that’s actually a good thing.
“Austin and Ethan, as of right now, are probably going to be our starting inside linebackers as well,” he said. “So, I think it’ll be good to be able to rotate those guys in just to be able to give them a little bit of a break as well.”
It might take a few weeks before the Rangers settle on somebody who will permanently lockdown the fullback spot, but if they don’t, then they’ll just keep rotating spots in and out.
Fuhs told The Herald the Rangers will probably go 70% run, 30% pass this year, but he knows Uebelhor can sling it, and some skill players like seniors Nolan Winkler and Beau Rasche can catch it. He also noted that some of his wingbacks have good hands — Bueltel, Fetter and junior Clay Eckert.
He’s looking for the Rangers to get that seventh, eighth and/or ninth win this season, a way of setting the bar higher this season, in addition to winning its division and playing in the championship game its first time ever. The road to those goals begins Friday at home against Princeton in a non-divisional game.
Fuhs has been wanting Forest Park to become a football school, and he thinks it’s getting there. The Rangers have 46 players on their roster, the most since Fuhs’ first season in 2012.
“I definitely think (we’re) trending in the right direction,” Fuhs said. “I think, obviously, when you have a little bit of success, that helps out as well, but we’re getting there. It’s something that is important, obviously, to me. And we want this community to get behind this, rally behind this, which they have been — and make this into a big-time football school and have a lot of fun out here on Friday nights.”
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