Varsity football team overcomes slow start in the first quarter to defeat rival Forest Hills Northern 35-7


For the first few minutes of Friday’s rivalry clash with the Forest Hills Northern Huskies, the varsity football team had to fend off its biggest opponent of the night: itself. 

“It was more of what we were doing to ourselves rather than what FHN was doing to us at the start,” head coach Tim Rogers said. “Once they started to do what they were coached to do, they were fine.”

Early on, after containing FHC to a three and out on the first drive of the game, FHN’s offense was juiced up to land the first punch. FHN came out firing on all cylinders during the first five plays of its first drive; the Huskies’ set up a potential deep ball jackpot by methodically running the ball to initiate the drive. Following his script, Huskies’ head coach Eddie Ostipow pulled out a flea flicker-type play from his bag of tricks. FHN’s quarterback Travis Myers motioned Austin Idziak over from the left side. At the snap of the ball, Myers pitched the ball to Idziak. Idziak, who has gotten his hands dirty at quarterback this season and also plays on the baseball team, received the pitch and planted his left foot in preparation for the long ball. The trickery paid off as Idziak found a wide-open target for a 34-yard gain. Five plays later, Curtis Andrews would lower his shoulder and walk in for the first touchdown of the game. With 5:07 left in the first quarter, FHN led 7-0.

Jacob Bonnett drags down a Northern receiver after a big play.

Down 7-0, FHC had to have an answer for Northern’s 14-play successful first drive. The Rangers’ offense looked stagnant on its first drive, so senior quarterback Hunter Robinson wanted to increase the tempo.

“We were kind of slow on our first drive, which was unlike us, so I wanted to get things going early,” Hunter said.

To get the drive going, Hunter would find trusty senior Ben Scholler on a bootleg for 11 yards and a first down. Compared to its first drive, the offense looked much more in sync in its second one of the game. FHC’s answer came with just over two minutes left in the first when sophomore JT Hartman got the “he’s a sophomore!” chant going again. 

Sitting on FHN’s own 25 yard-line, Hunter received the snap from junior Owen Meyer and shuffled two steps over to the right. As he did that, he pitched the ball to JT. JT, who has already tallied five touchdowns this season, raced up Northern’s sideline before breaking four tackles for his first of two touchdowns on the night. Senior Luke Gustafson would boot in the extra point to tie the contest up at 7. 

JT Hartman stays on his feet.

“My touchdown gave our team the spark we needed to get back into the game; it brought the team together,” JT said.

JT’s galvanizing 25-yard touchdown sent a deep sigh of relief through the body of every player and coach for FHC, but senior Jacob Bonnett sealed the deal in the third quarter with perhaps one of his most electrifying plays of the season. 

Staggered out to the left in the slot, Jacob waited patiently for the ball to snap. Once it did, he took off on a five-yard out route and caught a nicely-placed ball from Hunter, who threw for 149 yards and two touchdowns on Friday. As he turned around to turn the ball upfield, he took two long strides past a Husky defender, opening up more green grass for him to work with. Jacob then planted his foot and made another man miss thanks to a shifty juke move. A step after that, Jacob cut back to the right one more time to find empty grass, making it a footrace to the end zone. The player who has compiled 937 all-purpose yards and ten total touchdowns won the race. By the end of the third quarter, FHC led 35-7 over a beat-up FHN team.

Jacob Bonnett cuts hard to the right and jukes out a Northern defender.

“We started out a little shaky, but I was impressed by how we responded in such an electric rivalry game and how we extended the final score to 35-7,” Jacob said. “We need to start off quicker against Byron [Center] next week, though.”

Next week, FHC plays host to a 6-1 Byron Center team that is coming off of a devastating 24-10 loss to Grand Rapids Christian. Although FHC sits in the driver’s seat of the OK-White title race as of now, a win against Byron next Friday would solidify a conference title. With that in mind, coach Rogers has no interest in sharing any accolades with any team this season.

“Byron Center still has a chance to create a three-way tie if they beat us next week,” Rogers said. “We don’t want to share the title with anyone.”