Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rebels Want Some Credit

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rebels Want Some Credit

Article excerpt

Byline: Chase Goodbread, Times-Union sports writer

Last week, in safely predicting a Mandarin High win over Forrest, I suggested that a Rebels win would hold up all season as the local upset of the year.

Turns out, the pick wasn't so safe: Forrest 21, Mandarin 17, and as for the gravity of the upset, it's only a stunner for the moment. By season's end, unless Forrest returns to its history of losing and Mandarin starts winning, it may not look like such a surprise.

"People see that Forrest beat Mandarin, and the first thing they want to think is, 'What's the matter with Mandarin'," said Rebels coach Dennis Clemons. "But what about some credit for the kids here at Forrest? We've worked as hard or harder than the schools that are used to winning. We've just not seen much payoff until these last couple of weeks."

The Rebels (2-0) have already matched their win total from the previous two seasons combined. Meanwhile the Mustangs, with three Times-Union Super 11 picks and several of the area's top juniors, are left to ponder how such a talented collection of players has found its way to an 0-2 start.

Coach Richard Burnoski doesn't have much time to find answers, because district play starts this week all over the state.

"I'm not too happy with them right now," said Burnoski. "We've got guys jumping offsides at critical times, busted assignments. It's been total self-destruction. But Forrest is a different team -- I predict they'll go to the playoffs."

Mandarin faces six consecutive District 1-6A foes starting Friday against DeLand, including two road trips to Orlando over the next three weeks. If the Mustangs are to match their 5-1 district record of a year ago, play on both sides of the ball will require improvement.

But was it such a bad team Mandarin fell to Friday night, or is Forrest better than anyone guessed?

"We wanted to keep their offense off the field, and make them throw to beat us," Clemons said. "Our defense got a few strips and we ended up forcing five turnovers. It was a great effort. But we still don't have any reason to think highly of ourselves yet -- every team on our schedule has beaten us. …

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