Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rebels' Yell: 4-0; A Forrest Turnaround from 1-9 Seasons

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rebels' Yell: 4-0; A Forrest Turnaround from 1-9 Seasons

Article excerpt

Byline: Chase Goodbread, Times-Union sports writer

Early last week, Forrest football coach Dennis Clemons credited his team's 3-0 start in part to special teams, noting that the Rebels allowed special teams touchdowns in all nine of their losses last season, and none so far this year.

The old nemesis returned.

Jackson used two Forrest special teams errors to score two touchdowns in less than 90 seconds Friday night, leaping to a 22-7 fourth-quarter lead. This Rebels team, however, overcame the miscues for a 23-22 comeback win to improve to 4-0.

"It was exactly the kind of game we would have lost a year ago," Clemons said.

Coming off back-to-back 1-9 seasons, the Rebels' undefeated September has been the surprise of the city so far in prep football. But this turnaround can't be explained by an influx of transfers or some star freshman. According to Clemons, the roster looks almost the same as it did a year ago.

"Same bunch of kids," Clemons said. "But I told them last December that things had to change in the offseason if anything was going to change during the season."

With that, Clemons instituted a new way of handling the offseason. Workouts started before Christmas, barely a month after the ink dried on last season's 1-9 mark. Whereas multiple sport athletes had previously been excused from workouts to play other sports, that privilege was rescinded.

"It told them, 'Hey, if you want to wrestle or play basketball, go ahead, but you're still going to work out for me on top of that'," Clemons said. "And if you can't pull it off, then you just need to let football go."

Playing football at Forrest was suddenly a full-time business, and when school let out in May, the team's commitment to improvement was maintained.

"It was the hardest summer of workouts I've been through," said quarterback Joe Singleton. "Coach was on us hard, but he promised us the games would be easy [by comparison], and he was right."

Singleton said starting at quarterback his freshman year last season was a tough learning experience, but has paved the way for his confidence. …

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