There's generally a bit more bounce to the step a week after a victory, so it's understandable if Forest Park senior lineman Andy Lawton and his teammates wanted to wallow in their Week 1 win over Osbourn Park before facing Stonewall Jackson on Friday.
It was the fourth-year varsity program's first season-opening win and the first time to knock off the Yellow Jackets. The psychological boost of those two accomplishments was palpable Monday and beyond.
"It was great having teachers, students, everybody coming up giving you pats on the back and telling you good job," Lawton said. "People are coming out harder on drills. Everybody's focused and concentrated. Nobody's messing around. It's a real good thing."
"It's a huge difference," said Bruins Coach Jerry Williams, accustomed to wins as a Hylton assistant before starting the Forest Park program three miles down Spriggs Road. "This is one of 10. . . . We won our first game. Now let's go try to get our second one. That's about as simple as it can be."
The 27-10 win over Osbourn Park was not so simple. Forest Park prepared to face a single-wing offense, but the Yellow Jackets showed a different look that night, so the Bruins had to adjust on the fly. And because they are not accustomed to leading late in games, they did not take care of the ball, failing to cover an onside kick and fumbling when trying to run out the clock.
"With eight wins in school history, we just haven't been in that position very often, and that's part of it," Williams said. "But we also have to hope and think we'll be in that position again and do a better job of it."
What the Bruins did do a fine job of was running the ball. Junior tailback Ryan Lee carried 31 times for 165 yards and two touchdowns and senior fullback Jason Roy, who missed much of last season with a dislocated finger, rushed 13 times for 85 yards.
Save for one play, Stonewall was not nearly as successful with its running game in a 24-7 loss to Hylton. Several Raiders were cramping up, including senior free safety Josh Baird, junior quarterback Ricky Milbourne and senior running back Chris Garrett, who was held to 31 yards on 12 carries.
"Those kids played 75 plays in that [Hylton] game," said Stonewall Coach Loren Johnson, whose team's win over Forest Park last season broke a 12-game losing streak and accounted for his first victory as a head coach. "Their bodies have to get used to it because they're going to play that many snaps in every game."
The Raiders' lone touchdown came on an 80-yard run by freshman fullback John Carter on the first play of the second half. Freshman tailback Ryan Williams did not play because of a concussion he sustained in practice last Tuesday. He is expected to be available Friday.
Milbourne completed eight of 15 passes for 140 yards.
"In every aspect he looked sharp throwing the ball," Johnson said. "He's a young kid, but his comment after the game was, 'Coach, I'm going to get this offense together for you. Don't worry about that.' He said that in front of everybody."
As if the answer were not obvious, yes, it did pain Johnson, a former all-Big East defensive back at Virginia Tech, to see the Raiders' secondary riddled by three Hylton touchdown passes. The quarterback Stonewall will face this week, Forest Park senior James Stehlin, threw four in a losing cause in Week 2 last year, offset by Garrett's 289 rushing yards.
"That kills me," Johnson said in reference to Hylton's scoring tosses. "That's like going to a Virginia Tech game and sitting in the stands and you can't do anything because those guys are throwing the ball and you know if people did the little things right the outcome would be a little bit different.
"I've been on [the Raiders' secondary's] backs since Saturday morning, so they're going to do one of two things -- either play better or stand next to me for a long period of time."