Success on the ground leads to 28-13 win for varsity football over FHN


The offensive trio of juniors Jacob Bonnett, Hunter Robinson, and senior Maguire Mahacek led the charge in the running game, rushing for a combined 184 yards that tore apart the Forest Hills Northern defense. With very few passing attempts throughout the game, these three, combined with the offensive line, dictated the pace of the game and created chances for the Rangers to hit the back of the endzone.

“My offensive line played fantastic,” Maguire said. “The scheme [offensive coordinator Mike] Ebbert designed fit perfectly for the game.”

Early on, however, the Rangers opened up the Huskies through the air. On 3rd and 8 from inside the FHC half, Hunter found the hands of Jacob for a 20-yard reception, keeping the first drive of the game going. Then, just a couple of plays later, Hunter found Jacob again. Catching it just one yard in front of the line of scrimmage, Jacob made a few Huskies miss and recorded a 15-yard gain. With five yards to go on third down from the FHN 21-yard line, senior Carson Deines snuck past the FHN defensive line where Hunter pitched it to him for the touchdown. 

A couple of possessions later with not much movement from either offense, Northern’s Adam Gynem took the handoff on the first play of the drive deep inside his own half. Gynem lost the handoff in the exchange, and senior Isaac Gurley jumped on top of the ball to secure the turnover with 3:32 in the first quarter. Isaac was all over the field for the entirety of the game, getting pressure on the quarterback play after play. He was rewarded for his exceptional play with the fumble recovery, but the stats did not do the massive impact he made all game justice.

“My main focus was just to try and keep their quarterback contained,” Isaac said. “I had to get to the edge quickly to keep pressure on him, but also to keep him from running.”

On the first play of the next possession for the Rangers, Maguire ran through the middle of the pack where a group of Huskies attempted to take him down. He stayed on his feet, though, and found the right edge of the field to give the Rangers a 14-0 lead with 3:25 to play in the first.

After an unremarkable performance last week in which he ran for five yards on four attempts, Maguire knew he had to have an impactful week against FHN to keep his own confidence up as well as to help the team.

“It was very important to me as this was a game we all knew we had to win,” Maguire said. “I knew I had to be better and that our offense needed to put up more points.”

Following the score from Maguire, Gynem took off for a 25-yard run through a herd of Rangers. Trinidad then made his first big-impact play of the game, scrambling to find receiver Ethan Morello for a 54-yard gain down to the FHC 2-yard line. To cap off the drive, Gynem rushed it in for the touchdown, reducing the FHC lead to 14-7 with 14 seconds to play in the first quarter. 

With that score from the Huskies, the game saw a change in momentum. The Rangers looked like they could be running away with the contest at that point, but for Chambliss and the Husky offense to march down and score saw this game would be closely contested. 

The Rangers were forced to punt again afterward, and FHN started to get some things going on their side. The Huskies got themselves into a 4th and 3 from the FHC 45 with less than four to play in the first half, but senior Carson Deines came up with the tackle to stop FHN inches short of the first down, one of his 8 tackles on the day. Hunter returned to the game at quarterback after a few successful drives from Maguire, and although he didn’t score there, the balance and ability to use two quarterbacks was shown all night.

“It’s very important [to have two quarterbacks]. We run our quarterbacks often,” head coach Tim Rogers said. “If one gets hurt or tired, we don’t skip a beat; the other quarterback goes in.”

Neither team scored on its final possession of the half, and the Rangers went into the locker room with a 14-7 lead in hand.

Just like last week against Grand Rapids Christian, the Rangers took over in the second half. On the first possession of the half, the Huskies marched toward half field. Just like the first half though, they were stuck with a 4th and short. Gynem took the hand off this time, but senior Aidan Paciorek came up with the tackle to stuff him for a turnover on downs.

A few possessions later, Maguire took charge of the offense once again and had it marching down the field. On 2nd and 5, Maguire ran 19 yards, setting up a touchdown a couple of plays later. With the ball on the 23, Maguire rolled out to his left, passing it off his back foot to senior Jonah Spates for the score. With 3:06 to play in the third, the Rangers now held a 21-7 lead; momentum was in their favor.

“We started to get a lot of momentum going during one of their drives in the second half, and it wasn’t even from a big play,” Isaac said. “Our stands and sideline just had a burst of energy, and it started to get pretty loud. For a little bit, it felt like full stands, and it really gave us momentum.”

As the Huskies tried to get things going on offense, the FHC defense was hitting its stride. The defensive line was all over the field in the second half with the likes of senior Mason Wiltz, junior Will Richardson, junior Conner Milton, Isaac, and Aidan getting pressure both on the quarterback and the ball carrier.

Forced inside his own 20-yard line, Chambliss looked for a big play to get the Huskies back into the game. He forced a pass, and Jacob intercepted the ball at the 33-yard line, returning the ball and diving into the endzone for the score. With eight and a half minutes left, FHC extended its lead to 28-7, all but capping off the win.

In the final eight minutes, the Rangers kept the successful run game going. Over the course of the game, FHC ran for a total of 222 yards. Besides the three guys mentioned earlier, senior Joey Wise also contributed to the ground game, rushing for 31 yards on the night. A force on both sides of the ball, Rogers has been impressed with Joey’s growth.

“I think Joey has taken his game to another level on offense and defense,” Rogers said.

To close out the game, the Huskies scored as time expired. With a final score of 28-13, the Rangers took down FHN in the crosstown rivalry for the fifth year in a row. It was another win in the conference standings, but against FHN, it meant more.

“It feels really good to beat FHN yet again,” Isaac said. “They are the crosstown rival, and you see them off the field too, so you want bragging rights. It’s nice to say we’ve certainly had them the past few years.”

With the win, the Rangers advance to 2-0 on their young season. They travel to Byron Center next week, a team that went 10-1 last year. It’ll certainly be a tough matchup, and Rogers isn’t going to stay satisfied with their play from this week.

“We are talented, but we need to be more disciplined both on offense and defense,” Rogers said.