CRYSTAL FALLS, Mich. (WJMN) – The Forest Park Trojans ended last season with a respectable 7-3 record but had their playoff run cut short with an opening round loss to Lake Linden-Hubbell.
Far from satisfied with last years results, the team is back to work looking to live up to the Trojan standard we’ve come to expect.
“Trojan Football is about toughness, being mentally strong and doing things the right way,” said Brian Fabbri, the head coach for the Forest Park Football team.”
Forest Park is not your typical 8-man football team. As teams across the U.P. continue to move towards a more modern- spread out style, Forest Park sticks to what they know best.
“We’re not flashy,” said Fabbri. “We didn’t go to 8-man and spread out. We didn’t do anything special, we kept to our roots. Power running, play action, we just stick to what we know is right, what’s worked from the past.”
That past is filled with rich tradition and history.
“I remember from the 70’s, even the 50’s and 60’s, I think Forest Park football is just know around the state and we want to keep that tradition alive. We want to compete this year and do it the Trojan Way.”
Helping lead that charge will be a handful of new faces.
“We lost almost our whole offensive line, our entire starting offensive line is gone so we have to replace them,” said Fabbri. “Our under center quarterback is gone, our starting fullback is gone. So, there is a lot of holes we have to replace.”
The trojans will have to replace eight seniors from last year’s class, the biggest departure being all-purpose running back and defensive back, Sam McKissack.
“He was our workhorse running back,” said Fabbri. “We relied on him a lot offensively. Just his leadership and toughness, we relied heavily on him.”
Despite the large turnover, coach Fabbri is confident with the group he returns this season.
“We have an awesome junior class,” said Fabbri. “We have three seniors that want to be here so that helps. So, a lot of holes to fill but we think we have the guys to fill those holes.”
The Trojan backfield will be shared by a pair of brothers who are eager to step into bigger roles in 2023.
“Felix Quevedo is one of our running backs and one of our main ball handlers,” said Fabbri. “He had some opportunities last year where he impressed us and he looked pretty good. He’s going into his senior season and we’re looking for him to be a leader. Gabe Quevedo, he was a very good punter for us last year but we’re looking for him to step into the full back role for us.”
Helping lead the way up front is junior Kevin Giuliani.
“My goal is to make sure that everybody succeeds and everybody gets better as the season goes on,” said Giuliani, a junior lineman for the Trojans. “Hopefully, they’re better than where they started at the end of the season. Hopefully, go undefeated and beat North Central, that’s my goal.”
“We have Kevin Giuliani and this will be his third year starting on the offensive line for us,” said Fabbri. “He’s been working his tail off all summer and pretty much since his freshman year. So, we’re looking for Kevin to anchor the offensive line and take on one of those leadership roles.”
With the returning leadership and young talent in the wing, the Trojans are poised for another strong year. But in order to reach their goal:
“In order for Forest Park to reach their goals this year they must stay healthy,” said Fabbri. “They must come together and be a team and just have fun.”
Forest Park open their season on the road against Stephenson on August 25th.
“It’s going to feel really good to get back at it because last year we ended the year we a pretty rough loss,” said Giuliani. “I’m ready to get back at it.”
“Always a team, no matter what it looks like on paper, it’s going to be a hard-hitting game,” said Fabbri. “Stephenson always gives us fits. Last year, they took us to the brink. We scored with I think it was 4 minutes left and we beat them 8-6. So, we’re looking for the same thing going to their field. They’re going to remember last year. They’re going to hit us hard and they’re going to spread us out a little bit. It’s going to be a good opening week for us to see what we have. I expect a good, hard-hitting, 8-man football game.”