CRYSTAL FALLS - Senior Derek Aberly made the most of his first start at tailback, running seven times for 120 yards and two touchdowns, all in the first half, as Forest Park earned an easy 43-8 homecoming victory over Baraga Friday night in Great Western Conference football at Dick Mettlach Field.
"Our guys knew that we didn't play all that well last week, and the challenge was to come out and fix things," Trojans head coach Bill Santilli said, referencing last week's loss at North Dickinson. "We moved some people around, trying a different look based on some of the things we saw last week.
"We're hoping that with these position changes - with the personal we moved around - we can be ready for a good Gogebic team next week and hopefully field a stronger lineup come playoff time."
The Trojans led 29-0 at halftime. A 49-yard Jeff Johnson to Austin Snell passing strike early in the third quarter brought on a running clock as the Trojans (6-1, 3-0) officially clinched a MHSAA playoff berth. Johnson passed for 117 yards on four completions.
"We really needed that tonight," Santilli said. "Everybody got on the field. It was Homecoming. Excitement was high."
Aberly, also getting the start at linebacker for the first time, took his second carry of the game 47 yards for a touchdown. He added a 41-yard score early in the second quarter.
Baraga 0 0 0 8 - 8
Forest Park 16 13 14 0 - 43
FP - Derek Aberly 47 run (Jeff Johnson kick), 11:16.
FP - Dennis Mongar 17 run (kick missed), 8:18.
FP - Johnson 23 yard field goal, 2:08.
FP - Aberly 41 run (Johnson kick), 10:57.
FP - Austin Snell 8 run (kick blocked), 5:13.
FP - Snell 49 pass from Johnson (Johnson kick), 9:10.
FP - Billy Ragio 5 run (Johnson kick), 5:10.
B - Jon Kaster 1 run (Dillion Hueckstaedt run), 5:36.
Total yards - Baraga 90 (90 run 0 pass); Forest Park 325 (208 run, 117 pass).
Rushing leaders - B: Corbin Crittenden 18-62; FP: Aberly 7-120, Mongar 3-35.
Receiving leaders - FP: Aberly 3-95.
Passing - B: Kaster 0-6-0-0-0; FP: Johnson 4-11-117-1-0.
First downs - B: 9; FP: 7.
Sacks - FP: Colton LaChapelle, Aberly, Ryan Silva.
Penalties - B: 3-15; FP: 6-60.
Dennis Mongar, another senior getting some additional carries, went in for a 17-yard score on the Trojans' second drive of the game, a possession which began on the Baraga 23 thanks to a blocked punt by Raymond Tomasik.
Baraga (0-7, 0-4), limited to just 25 yards of positive offense in the first half, put up a fourth-quarter score by driving 63 yards on 16 plays with quarterback Jon Kaster sneaking it in from the one. Dillion Hueckstaedt followed with a two-point push.
"Baraga is in a tough situation," Santilli said, noting how the Vikings only had 13 guys dressed for the contest. "But it doesn't matter how many guys they have, they don't quit. They just give you everything they have."
Forest Park, with a win next week against Gogebic, can clinch at least a share of the Great Western Conference. The game against the Miners takes place Saturday at Wakefield.