Gielczyk: Forest Area Debuts New-Look Offense in Grand Fashion
Forest Area couldn’t have asked for a better way to open the 2019 high school football season than its electrifying 64-44 win over Brethren in a non-conference game Friday, Aug. 30.
Everyone was speculating before the game on just how the Warriors would look on offense with its new spread attack, and the answer was pretty emphatic.
Good. Real good.
The Warriors made the eight-player playoffs last year despite finishing the regular season with a 4-5 record largely because of the strength of their schedule.
Coach Brian Mumby would prefer the Warriors not leave any doubt this season, and that means compiling six or more wins and going into the playoffs on a high note, and with momentum.
But, there’s no denying the opener was a good start.
After the Bobcats scored on their first offensive series of the contest to take a 6-0 lead, the Warriors dominated, opening up a 22-12 lead at the end of the first quarter, and 42-20 at the half. They were never so much as tied after that.
Forest Area punted only once, and turned the ball over on downs another time. Other than that, the Warriors scored just about every time they had the ball on offense.
“Our offense was really clicking,” coach Brian Mumby said.
Starting quarterback Chase Ingersoll, who missed the second half of last season after being injured, didn’t show any rust and ripped off 307 yards rushing on 25 carries with five touchdowns, while going 9 for 14 passing for 107 yards and three TDs with one interception.
But he wasn’t the only offensive leader. Lane Lindsay touched the ball five times and gained 48 yards on the ground, and also caught six passes for 81 yards and two scores.
Eric Burke, another returner, rushed for 54 yards on 13 carries. Bradley Lownsberry caught an 18-yard touchdown strike from Ingersoll as the offense performed in mid-season form.
The score might not look like it, but the Warriors’ defense was stout in the first half only giving up a couple of big plays, including a 97-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
Forest Area forced a lot of turnovers in the first half to stunt any Brethren offensive charge. Josh Saylor scooped up a Bobcat fumble and returned it for a touchdown.
“Second half we came out and just didn’t bring that same energy that we did in the first half,” said Mumby. “We gave up a couple of one-play drives. The good thing is, our offense had a complete game, all four quarters.
“Once we had those couple of turnovers in the first half, and that touchdown fumble recovery we put enough space between us. When they scored, we went back down and scored. It was kind of back and forth the second half.”
While the new-look offense centers around Ingersoll, who had a monster night, the Warriors also have other skill players that the defense has to honor, and that’s the key point.
If the defense tries to take Ingersoll away, the Warriors have other weapons on offense. Lindsay can stretch the field vertically in the passing game, as well as horizontally with his speed on the jet sweep.
Burke provides a solid running attack off tackle, and gives the Warriors an inside presence. Saylor not only can provide offense in the passing game, but is also a great blocking tight end.
“Our offensive line played really well in blocking,” added Mumby. “I feel traditionally we’ve always had really strong linemen up front, and provided for the running game.
“It’s a little bit of a mindset shift this year with more of a passing attack game. I thought our line did really well. Our skill kids, like Eric and Josh, blocked well when we asked them to
“Defensively, we just have to work on our keys. Like, reading our keys and doing our responsibilities. Things will come together.”
Patrick Hulwick was the defensive leader against the Bobcats with 11 tackles, while Burke had seven stops and a quarterback sack. Lindsay added six tackles and two interceptions.
The Warriors know they can’t rest on their laurels if they want to achieve their goals of winning a league title in the final season of the Midwest Central 8-Player Conference, and make a return to the playoffs.
It was only one game. There are nine more left on the schedule, and the fast start will wither away if the Warriors aren’t able to carry it through the rest of the season.
“Our kids realize that we have to work a little harder in practice, and we need to get in a little better shape,” Mumby said. “It was the first game out, and it always takes them that first game to realize they have to start pushing in practice.
“We only dressed 13 for the game, as did Brethren, and they know they have to be in condition. They’ll get it going, I’m sure.”
They have to. It’s simple as that.
Greg Gielczyk is an award-winning sports columnist and sportwriter who worked a total 36 years — interrupted for an 18-month period from 1997-99 — at the Manistee News Advocate as sports editor until 2006 and is now retired. He currently is a freelance sportswriter for the Ludington Daily News. Gielczyk can be reached at email@example.com for story ideas.