FORRESTON, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Forreston wasn’t as competitive as they would have liked in the Northwest Upstate Illini Conference last year, but their season still ended with a nice playoff run. Keynon Janicke and his Cardinals are primed and ready for more this season.
Resilient is a good word to describe the Forreston Cardinals. It’s what helped carry them to the 1A state semifinals last year where they eventually lost to rival Lena-Winslow.
“I don’t know how many teams are 5-4 and making it to the state semifinals, so that’s all the props in the world to our seniors last year and then these guys that are coming back ready to be seniors one last time,” said head coach Keynon Janicke.
Guys like running backs Kaleb Sanders, Micah Nelson and lineman Ethan Bocker will give it one more go this season for the red and white.
“We expect to play our game and just give it our best,” said Sanders. “Hopefully, we make it all the way to semifinals again. That’s the goal.”
The veteran talent and experience of this year’s roster remains one of the strengths for this Forreston team.
“We are going to lean on those guys, they’ve been in a lot of big games,” said Janicke. “They were on the semifinal team last year.”
“I think we’ll be great; I think we’ll be good,” said Nelson. “We just have to piece it together a little earlier this year.”
Forreston hit a bit of a mid-season slump last year which left them tied for 4th in the NUIC. They are looking to change that this year, and it will start with a new, but familiar face at quarterback, sophomore Brady Gill who’s taking over for graduated senior Brock Smith.
“We are expecting a lot of great things out of Brady,” said Janicke. “He knows our offense, he can command our huddle. He knows what we are trying to do, and he’s not trying to do too much.”
But the big men up front will continue to lead the path for the Cardinals. A Wing-T football team like Forreston is nothing without its offensive line.
“We tell them every day, you are the most important position on our team,” said Janicke. “We are kind of biased, but it’s true because our team only goes as far as our offensive line.”
And this team seems ready to go far, once again. If last year is any indication, you can’t ever count out Keynon Janicke and his Cardinals.
“Just go all the way, take them all down and make it to state and win it,” said Nelson.
Forreston opens their season at home on Friday, August 25 with rival Fulton.