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High school football: Cardinals can't rally against Stark County

A hill too tall

WYOMING – Heading into halftime trailing 24-0, Forreston’s chances to defeat Stark County didn’t look too promising.

That changed 5 minutes into the third quarter. Forreston quickly scored two touchdown before Stark County even touched the ball.

Then, stopping Stark County near midfield on fourth down, the fired-up Cardinals looked poised to continue the rally and make another improbable comeback.

Instead, it was Stark County (10-2) that turned on the afterburners in a 50-20 1A quarterfinal playoff win. 

“Once you make a comeback [like in the Ottawa-Marquette game], you always think you can do it,” Forreston coach Denny Diduch said. “For that to happen tonight, we would have to be perfect in the second half. That’s a lot to be asking.”

“Putting 50 points on them is not what I expected,” Stark County coach Jade Noard. “I can’t remember a whole game we played so well.”

Forreston (9-3) forced Stark County into negative yardage on the game’s first possession. However, the ensuing punt was fumbled by Tylor Henneman and recovered by the Rebels at Forreston’s 44-yard line.

Four plays later, Justin Kohler found a streaking Brandon Lee for a 20-yard touchdown pass. On the Rebels’ next possession, they connected again to make it 14-0 on a 24-yard pass play.

After a Rebel field goal, a 14-play Forreston drive came up inches short of a first down. Taking over at its own 9, Stark County ran six plays to make it 24-0. On a play that would hurt the Cardinals throughout the contest, it was the quarterback option pitch, this time to Danny Berchtold for a 70-yard score.

“We couldn’t get back off the No. 2 receiver. He did a great job of blocking,” Diduch said.

Forreston drove to the Stark County 6 but turned the ball over on downs just before the half ended.

“We played the best we could and gave it everything,” Forreston fullback Bryan Kraft said. “Tonight, things didn’t go our way.”

Kraft led all rushers with 202 yards on 28 carries. He also scored all three of Forreston’s touchdowns and its extra point.

“Kraft will go down as one of the best running backs in history here,” Diduch said.

Going out with a bang: Bryan Kraft, Forreston senior fullback, 202 yards on 28 carries, 3 TDs

Up next: 1A semifinal – Stark County at Stockton, TBA

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