CRYSTAL FALLS, Mich. (WJMN) – Forest Park head coach and Crystal Falls native, Brian Fabbri, is entering his second year as the headman for the Trojans, his first full season after a shortened 2020 schedule due to COVID.
Fabbri has some big shoes to fill proceeding Bill Santilli and Dave Graff as head coach. Santilli coached the Trojans from 1996-2013. He led Forest Park to the 2007 Division 8 State Championship and was recently named to the 2021 Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame Class.
Graff took over for Santilli in 2014 and helped lead the Trojans through the transition from 11-Man to 8-Man football in 2016. One year later, the Trojans hoisted a state championship trophy after winning the 2017 8-player Division 2 state championship, defeating Portland St. Patrick at the Superior Dome in Marquette.
“I was actually a manager on those teams as a small young kid,” said Fabbri. “Coming through the ranks and being under those two coaches was awesome.”
The Forest Park program is a proud one with rich history and Fabbri says he’s honored for the opportunity.
“The support system has been awesome,” said Fabbri. “You know, it takes a lot of guys to replace two coaches that just had the tenure, they had the respect, they got the job done on and off the field. Between winning state titles in 11-Man and 8-Man it’s a lot to live up to but looking forward to the challenge. For me, growing up in Crystal Falls, I had two brothers go through the system before me, and being a manager is a dream come true.
You could form an argument that the best game that happened last week involved Forest Park against the Ontonagon Gladiators.
“Ontonagon had the size, the speed, and they were coached very well,” said Fabbri. “They came here after a long bus ride and they were ready to play.”
The two teams combined for 122 total points as Forest Park edged Ontonagon in overtime 62-60 to move to 3-0 on the season. Fabbri says the victory told him a lot about his players and their will to be great.
“There were so many ups and downs in that game and I’m so proud of my guys,” said Fabbri. “We got down ten going into the fourth quarter and they had the ball. I looked at them and said, ‘We got to get a stop here fella’s.’ They got the stop and we marched down the field and it was just an awesome game to be a part of. There was so much emotion afterward, it was unbelievable.”
Fabbri and the Trojans will look to keep their winning ways going this Friday at Stephenson.