Cougars celebrate with 46-24 win over Forest Park
By JOHN VRANCIC
Escanaba Daily Press
EBEN — As sure as the rain was falling at their home field at the end of Friday night’s football game, the Superior Central Cougars were celebrating a season-opening victory.
The Cougars, led by seniors Beau Rondeau and Roubans Fink, earned a 46-24 triumph over the Forest Park Trojans in a Great Lakes Eight Conference 8-player crossover contest.
Rondeau completed 6 of 14 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 11 times for 120 yards and two scores. Fink collected 179 yards and three TDs on nine carries.
The Cougars opened the scoring on Rondeau’s 63-yard dash around left end and made it 12-0 on Rondeau’s 67-yard pass through the middle to Fink with two minutes, 55 seconds left in the first quarter.
“Our intent was to come out and play as hard as we could with as much speed as we could,” said Cougars’ coach Sam Eggleston. “We decided to air it out a little to keep them from clogging the box.”
The defending MHSAA Division 2 state champs trimmed their deficit to 12-8 on a 50-yard pass from junior Tom Peltola to sophomore Tom Showers just 51 seconds later.
Rondeau, however, put the Cougars up 18-8 with 24.8 seconds left in the opening frame on a 60-yard scamper to the right on a counter play.
The Trojans climbed within 18-16 on an eight-yard run up the middle midway through the second stanza.
“We weren’t finishing the 2-point conversions, which had us a little concerned,” said Eggleston. “We didn’t want it to become a war of inches. We wanted to keep them from establishing a ground game because they do it so well. A couple of their pass plays caught us off guard, but we adjusted to that pretty well.”
Superior Central answered with three scores including 51-yard scamper to the left side by Fink for a 40-16 advantage with 1:11 remaining in the second.
The Cougars needed just two plays to extend their lead to 30 points in the third frame. Fink scored on a 20-yard run through the middle, set up on the previous play by Rondeau’s 51-yard bomb to sophomore Clayton Collier.
Forest Park ended the scoring on a 16-yard run through the left side by senior Nathan Johnson early in the fourth.
Superior Central senior linebacker Noah Groulx suffered a neck sprain late in the third stanza, delaying the contest approximately a half hour.
“Everything was precautionary,” said Eggleston. “The pain was off to the side. It could have been a lot worse. Noah is our leader on defense. The other players know the defense, but they’re not ready to call the plays. I had to do a little more coaching when our linebacker went out.”
The Cougars finished with 517 yards including 297 on the ground.
“Superior Central has a very athletic team,” said Forest Park head coach Dave Graff. “Their whole team is solid. They stopped what we do best. At halftime, we talked about some things a little different on defense. It took a little while to adjust to what they were doing.”
The Cougars travel to Cedarville Thursday. The Trojans host Carney-Nadeau Thursday.