Are these guys for real?
The Forest Wild Cats storm the field before the North Marion take on the Forest Wildcats at North Marion High School in Citra, Florida on Friday September 25, 2020. Forest shut out North Marion 7-0 [Alan Youngblood/Special to the Ocala Gazette].
Coming off a huge upset win over North Marion, the Forest Wildcats get a second big test this week against rival Vanguard
The public school football schedule got under way last week with a major upset as the area’s top-ranked program, North Marion, was blanked by underdog Forest 7-0.
North Marion entered the season ranked 52nd in the state by MaxPrep Sports, while Forest was ranked just 328th and was expected to have a mediocre campaign. Instead, the win catapulted the Wildcats to 102nd overall in Florida, while the Colts slipped 60 spots to No. 112.
“Our defense played great, Forest Coach Robin Williams said. “We ended with 11 quarterback sacks and held them to only eight rushing yards.”
The Wildcat Defense was led by Eli Russell, who registered five sacks to stifle the North Marion passing game.
In other action, West Port narrowly escaped Belleview with an 18-17 win after trailing the Rattlers 10-6 entering the fourth quarter. West Port Head Coach Steve Rhem said, “It took us 45 minutes to get started, but we had a huge fourth quarter. The boys showed real fight and made some great plays.”
Meanwhile, heavily favored Dunnellon didn’t disappoint in its season opener, crushing Lake Weir 53-0. In talking with Head Coach Price Harris of Dunnellon, he clearly has big goals; as he describes room for improvement for his team this year, “Although we played a well rounded game and held Lake Weir to 38 total offensive yards, we still have a lot to fix. We had some unfortunate penalties that we need to clean-up.”
Looking ahead to week two, the Vanguard Knights open their season against Forest, which looks to build on the momentum from its upset of North Marion and drive its record to 2-0. After squeaking past Belleview, West Port will travel to Citra to take on the North Marion.
“North Marion is always tough, but we have been working hard to get back to true West Port football, and look forward to the challenge,” Rhem said.
The Colts hope to turn things around with a win, while West Port looks to stay undefeated. North Marion Head Coach Greg Carr said the Colts are, “just looking to continue to get better as a team. We are playing a good West Port team this Friday that is coming off a hard-fought win last week against Belleview. We have to be ready to play four quarters of good football.”
Following a frustrating narrow loss to West Port, the schedule doesn’t get any kinder for Belleview, which faces a Dunnellon team fresh off a drubbing of Lake Weir. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes have no choice but to pick themselves up, dust off the dirt and get back to the grindstone, as they have a bye.
The area’s private schools were also in action last week. Trinity Catholic pummeled Gainesville last week, 38-7, remaining undefeated at 2-0. The Celtics face an undefeated The Villages Charter on Friday.
The St. John Saints, having lost their opener to Cedar Creek Christian with a disconcerting final score of 54-0, hope to turn things around against Eagle’s View this Friday. Ocala Christian remained winless on the season but put up an impressive 46 points against Halifax Academy on Oct. 18 and hopes to carry that momentum into Friday night as they travel to Deltona to take on Trinity.