Before the season, Forest Park coach Obie Barnes Sr. called this year's team the best he has coached. Yesterday's 20-0 victory by the fifth-ranked Foresters (2-0) over visiting Calvert Hall, in a Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference game, didn't change his view.
"This is the most talented team I've ever had," said Barnes. "We have had talented teams before, but only at certain positions. The only negative thing is that we don't have the depth that other teams have, but we have a good group of veterans."
It was a matchup of teams expected to contend in the A Conference, considered the toughest in the area. The game also featured two of the area's top runners -- Forest Park's Obie Barnes Jr. and Calvert Hall's Nick Jeppi.
Barnes carried the Foresters' offense, scoring all three touchdowns, rushing for 225 yards on 11 carries. Jeppi finished with 100 yards on 21 carries.
"All the credit goes to the offensive line," said Barnes, who had 125 yards rushing in the first half. "The coaching staff had us prepare for this game. Last year's game [a 14-8 loss] was very emotional for us, and this time would knew that Calvert Hall was not a team to underestimate, and they played a hard-fought game."
Said Calvert Hall coach Bill Mackey: "Just too much Barnes. They just outplayed us, and that's the bottom line. They showed something what championship teams are made of."
Forest Park's defense, led by Antoine Burrell, Arthur Page, Sean Green and Joshua Austin, shut out the Cardinals (0-2), who have yet to score.
Page made a key play on the opening play of the second quarter, stopping Jeppi on a fourth-and-two from the Foresters' 37. On the next play, Barnes went 63 yards down the right sideline for the first score.
After Burrell recovered a Calvert Hall fumble, it took only two plays before Barnes got open across the middle and hauled in a pass from Mike Cooper for a 26-yard touchdown. Burrell's conversion run made it 14-0 with 37 seconds remaining in the first half.
Calvert Hall opened the second half with a 76-yard drive, only to fall short on a fourth-and-five. The Cardinals were inside Forest .. Park territory on five of seven possessions.
Barnes closed the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown run, completing a six-play, 63-yard drive, with 3:27 remaining in the game.
Next week, Forest Park will play host to No. 1 Poly. Last year, Poly defeated the Foresters, 51-6.
"It will be an exceptional game," said Burrell, who transferred from Poly two years ago. "We have the talent to beat them, and the action on the field will do the speaking."
Said Barnes Sr., who attended Edmondson, where he was coached by Poly coach Augie Waibel: "One thing he [Waibel] taught me is to be disciplined and follow directions, and we will need to do that next week."