Prep football: Johnson, Trojans blast Broncos with big plays

HARRIS – The good news for Bark River-Harris is it won the first quarter of its football opener Friday night.

It was Forest Park which came up with most of the big plays, however, as it posted a non-conference 39-6 triumph to put a damper on Al Stenberg’s coaching debut.

BR-H led 6-0 after the first quarter.

But senior quarterback Jeff Johnson broke through the middle of the Broncos’ defensive line just 11 seconds into the second stanza, tying the score on a 43-yard dash.

The Broncos then tried a squib kick, which Forest Park recovered on the BR-H 32-yard line. Five plays later, Johnson burst through the middle on a six-yard run to put the Trojans up 12-6 with 7:37 remaining in the second frame.

“We had three missed tackles on that play,” said Stenberg. “Our defensive line played real well, but their speed hurt us once they broke through the line.”

After stopping the Broncos on their next possession, Forest Park hiked its advantage to 20-6 on a 65-yard punt return by senior running back Austin Snell.

“You always want to score first, especially when you’re playing on the road,” said Forest Park Bill Santilli. “But the kids were sputtering on offense, which surprised me a little. The second quarter really helped. We started playing a little better. Once we got the two-touchdown lead on that big punt return, we could relax a little and start working on some things.”

Snell gave the Trojans a 27-6 cushion on the first play of the third quarter when he broke off right tackle on a 56-yard jaunt.

Forest Park’s advantage grew to 33-6 midway through the third when junior linebacker Lee Graff stripped the ball from senior running back Alex Emmes and dashed 70 yards into the end zone.

“That was a great play for a guy who was injured and watched from the sidelines last season,” said Santilli. “If you put it on paper, we’re still a relatively young team. Yet, I think our guys grew up a little tonight. Bark River-Harris also has some nice athletes. They’re going to be pretty good ball club once they get some of their guys back.”

Early in the fourth quarter, Snell ended the scoring on a three-yard run through the left side.

BR-H senior Kyle Kleiman recovered two fumbles. His first recovery on the Forest Park 41, set up the Broncos’ scoring drive, which was climaxed on junior Jordan Sodergren’s two-yard run on a quarterback keeper with 55 seconds left in the opening frame.

“We have traditionally been a slow starting team,” said Stenberg. “It was important for us to come out strong, and I think we did that.”

The Broncos rushed for 89 yards, with Emmes leading the way with 43 on 16 carries. Sodergren was 2-of-8 passing for 23, with both receptions made by Kleiman.

Forest Park collected 254 yards in total offense, including 209 on the ground. Snell carried 14 times for 117.

Johnson converted 2-of-5 passes for 45 yards and ran four times for 76.

“The quarterback is an excellent runner and we were conscious of that coming in,” said Stenberg. “His two big quarterback sneaks (both for TDs) killed us. I remember Snell killed us last year, but I thought we did a better job keeping him at bay this time. I do feel we won the battle on the line even though the score doesn’t indicate that.”

The Broncos, who had just 15 available players this time, travel to Pickford Friday. Forest Park hosts Norway Friday.