When it comes to reversing long-standing losing traditions, turnarounds build one game, week, and step at a time. The same is true of shorter-term scoreboard deficits: Comebacks build a play, burst and step at a time.
Seconds after Freedom-Woodbridge scored a surprising first-quarter touchdown against visiting Forest Park on Friday night, Forest Park return man Wesley Rush took one step to his right, then another. The play call was kick return left, but Rush had a hunch the kick was headed to the right. It was and Rush’s guess helped him position himself to take the ball 70 yards for an equalizing touchdown — the first of 31 unanswered points for the Bruins in a 31-7 win.
“We were all down after they scored because they weren’t supposed to score on us, we were feeling high on ourselves,” Rush said. “I slid over, and I got it, started running left, found a hole, made some people miss and that was it.”
Those few steps reversed the game’s tenor and helped reestablish Forest Park’s hope for a trend-bucking season. The Bruins (5-2, 5-2) , who haven’t had a winning season in more than a decade, got off to a 3-0 start before losing two straight. A 16-0 win over Potomac last week kept Forest Park over .500, and a win next week against Gar-Field would ensure the Bruins stay above that mark for the entire regular season.
“We’re feeling good — we’re not feeling like we’re the best ever — but we’re feeling like we’re where we’re supposed to be,” Rush said. “Our coach told us our goal isn’t to get to the playoffs, it’s not to get to a winning season, it’s to get to as many wins as we were last year. We got that last week, so now it was just get another win, then another.”
After Rush’s touchdown, a Julian Ayala field goal gave Forest Park the lead, and the Bruins controlled the ball the rest of the way. Thanks to consistent running from Nate Gaines, who piled up 114 yards a few clock-killing yards at a time, Forest Park controlled the ball for nearly nine minutes in the second quarter, building a halftime lead of 24-7 which allowed it to build drives methodically and keep the ball away from the Eagles (3-4, 3-4) the rest of the way.
“Everything worked tonight,” Gaines said. “The run game, the pass game, the defense, the offensive line was blocking really well — I really liked it. Everyone played as a team, and it really made me proud.”