Rangers eliminated in sectional opener

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Forest Park senior Trey Toby (40) runs after hauling in a reception during the first half of Friday's sectional opener in Ferdinand against North Knox. The Rangers fell to the Warriors, 59-15.


FERDINAND — They showed resolve, braving through the windy, blistering cold Friday evening, but their fight on the wet surface did not suffice.

Forest Park bowed out to North Knox, 59-15, in the Sectional 40 opener Friday night. It’s the second year in a row that the Warriors eliminated the Rangers (6-4). They kept pushing, even when down, 19-0, and 25-8, but allowing the big play and end to the first half allowed the Warriors to score 34 unanswered points to finish the game.

“We pretty much played the game we wanted to play,” Rangers coach Ross Fuhs said. “We did think we could throw it maybe a little bit more. I think (we) had a few wet balls and things like that with some passes, but overall, I don’t think the conditions were a big deal."

It took some time for the Rangers to get their offense going, as they trailed, 13-0, after one. Forest Park began to show life on offense after North Knox junior Holtman Doades took a 66-yard run to the house to put the Warriors ahead, 19-0 on the first play off a turnover on downs.

“When you’re in so tight like that on defense, if you miss, there really ain’t nobody back there to help out just because of how they play — they want to run the ball,” Fuhs said. “So, you really got to stack the box and when guys get free, there’s just really nobody left to make the tackle. So, I think a lot of it’s just their scheme and how well they run the football.”

The Rangers showed the Warriors would not shut them out in the sectional this year, when junior quarterback Cooper Uebelhor found fellow junior Nolan Winkler for a touchdown on the left side of the end zone with 7:53 to play. They successfully went for two after the Warriors were called for offsides.

Forest Park kept pushing, even after junior Rhett Sheren got a score back for the Warriors on a 53-yard carry after Winkler's touchdown reception. Uebelhor found Winkler again to convert on fourth down with eight yards to go, and senior fullback Jake Begle drove for five yards for a Forest Park touchdown. The Rangers trailed, 25-15, with 1:41 to play in the first half.

“You know you’re going to get four hard quarters out of them, and that was exactly the thing tonight,” Fuhs said. “We knew that they were going to play hard. They kept saying, ‘Let’s go, it’s time for us to go score,’ and they did that.”

Then things went south for Forest Park.

The Warriors drove and ended another drive in the end zone off another Sheren carry, extending their lead to 32-15, with 16.5 seconds left to play. It took only 10 seconds later, however, for North Knox to add insult to injury. Uebelhor attempted a screen pass, only for North Knox junior lineman Gunner Thompson to snatch a one-handed interception that he returned for a touchdown, and Forest Park took a 39-15 deficit into the half.

Fuhs gave credit to Thompson for the play he made, but he noted the Rangers had the ball to start the second half, and he thought they could’ve been back in it had they scored on that first possession.

Instead, they turned it over on downs, and the Warriors scored following the turnover. North Knox made it a running clock just before third quarter ended, and tacked on one more in the fourth.

Fuhs told his seniors after the game how proud he was of them, calling them, “eight great kids.” He told the younger players that last year’s team won five regular season games, while this team won six in the regular season, and they are expected to set the bar higher in 2021.

“We want to turn this into a football school,” he said. “That’s what we’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and we’ve got to get guys to buy in to the process, and what we’re trying to do — and I think they will.”

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