Over the past 8 seasons, the Forreston Cardinals have averaged a record of 10-2. Not many teams can state they average playing in 12 games a season, and this number across Class 1A is second only to rival Lena-Winslow.
The Cards are coming off a injury riddled season that saw inconsistent play throughout the regular season, and when the bright lights of the playoffs came on, Forreston took off on their 5th trip to the semifinals in 8 seasons.
Coach Keynon Janicke stated that last season felt like a roller coaster. The Cards were in the top half of the conference standings and before they knew it they were almost on the outside looking in. He felt that they battled adversity and never stopped competing, to which he gave credit to last year's seniors and the incoming seniors this year for trusting the process.
In 2023, he looks for his team to dig deeper. A semifinal berth is nice, but the goal is what it is every year; to compete for state championships. That goal runs through the rival Panthers, who have won 4 of the last 5 state titles, with Forreston's 3 titles sprinkled amongst that run. He wants the Cards to be the team that knocks off Le-Win.
Leading the way for Forreston will be 3 year starter Kaleb Sanders, who finished last season with 938 yards rushing and 13 TD's. Joining him will be the return of Micah Nelson, who missed the last 7 games of the year due to shoulder surgery. In 6 games, Micah still racked up 51 tackles on defense and ran for 513 yards and 9 TD's on offense. They will be joined in the backfield by Owen Mulder, who ran for 201 yards a season ago.
Up front, the offense will be led by Ethan Bocker who will be a 3 year starter. They moved Bocker to right tackle, which is the power position on the offensive line in the Cardinals explosive rushing attack. Grant Johnson and Zac Shuman will also return on the line as starters to give the Cardinals plenty of power. Andrew Wells is a 2 year starter that comes back at TE, and will be utilized to get downfield to seal off blocks to break the backs free. The Cards will also rely on these guys in the trenches; Ayden Book, Devin Bratt, and Alec Schoonhoven.
Alex Ryia will return after missing last season's semifinal game with a broken arm. Ryia picked up 61 tackles from his DB position. On offense, you will see him platoon into the backfield, a tactic Forreston has utilized for several years now. A few other notable players you will see help out in the run game will be Evan Boettner, Coehen Kerchner, Lucas Nelson, and Dane Setterstrom.
The QB position has been an open door in recent years, but the Cards will turn to sophomore Brady Gill to run the offense.
As is the case with most coaches, Janicke expects the conference to run through Le-Win, but knows other teams such as Du-Pec and Fulton will be waiting in the wings for their shot at NUIC supremacy. He made it a point to note that you cannot over look anyone in this conference, and expects this year to be a tough one.
Playoff History 37-24
2014 5-0 Class 1A State Champion
2016 5-0 Class 1A State Champion
2018 5-0 Class 1A State Champion