Grey clouds loom over Paoli’s second-round sectional duel against Forest Park, potentially making the opening kick-off a wet one. Yet, as forecasts suggest, the rain should give way by the end of the first quarter. Subsequently, a 70-degree ambiance alongside a muddy field sets the stage for a nostalgic football evening.
Matching up, Forest Park and the Rams present an intriguing contest. Both teams’ defenses are poised for a grueling test, with the coveted prize being a ticket to the Sectional 40 championship against either North Posey or Evansville Mater Dei.
On the offensive front, both teams pack a punch. However, Paoli seems to have the upper hand. Their star, Trey Rominger, is not just a local sensation, but a national standout, ranking 10th in the U.S. and 2nd in the state as they head into this round. But the Rangers would be mistaken to focus only on Rominger; Dane Padgett and Fletcher Cole, at any moment, can turn the game on its head for the Rams.
Forest Park’s stats tell a story of struggle on the defense front, conceding an average of 26 points per game. Contrastingly, Paoli stands tall, both offensively and defensively, averaging an impressive 43 points per game and restricting opponents to a mere 15. Forest Park might find pockets of scoring opportunities, but Paoli’s formidable running game will undoubtedly pose a significant challenge.
Diving deeper into their journey, Forest Park’s strength reflects in their schedule. While their four losses came against competent teams, they weren’t necessarily the crème de la crème of Southern Indiana Football, well besides North Posey. To counter the Rams’ consistent onslaught, the Rangers will likely bank on their key players: Jaxon Lueke, Ty Fetter, Jace Berg, and Bryson Frick.
Paoli’s tactician, Neil Dittmer, in his fourth season at the helm, boasts a 30-12 record. Sagarin’s ranking places the Rams at a respectable 22nd in 2A, whereas Forest Park trails at 32nd. While the teams haven’t officially clashed in over three decades, recent preseason scrimmages have ensured they aren’t strangers. Their impeccable records against common opponents—both standing 2-0—add another layer to this matchup.
Forest Park’s revival under Coach Terry Riggs has been noteworthy. With a record of 7-13 in his second year, Riggs has managed to resurrect the team from a single-win debut season to a commendable 6-4 this year.
While many expect a tight contest, if Paoli showcases their season’s form, they might just overshadow Forest Park’s offensive aspirations. Rominger’s agility combined with Padgett’s speed might be too hot to handle for the Rangers, yet, Forest Park won’t bow down easily.
John Harrel predicts a 38-28 victory for the Rams. My forecast? A decisive 45-14 in Paoli’s favor. Rain or shine, the night promises enthralling football action. Stay with us for post-game coverage and updates on the second-round IHSAA sectional scores. Game time tonight is 7 pm EST time. See you there.