by Jody Kessler
Kevin Forster is one of the best lacrosse players in the state, headed to powerhouse Maryland next fall. But right now he is quarterback of one of the best football teams in the state, as the LaSalle Explorers continue their AAAA state title defense this fall.
Filling in for injured starter Matt Magarity Friday night, Forster ran for 107 yards and two TDs to lead LaSalle against Father Judge Friday in the opening round of the Catholic League playoffs. Forster also had an interception, playing great defense at safety. LaSalle will play next weekend for the league championship against Roman Catholic, who beat St. Joseph Prep Saturday. Now 9-1, the Explorers have now won eight straight games since starting the season 1-1. The defense was dominating in the win, holding Judge to a meaningless late touchdown.
The defense started the scoring for LaSalle at Harry Truman High School in Levittown (although it was a neutral site, LaSalle was the home team as the number one seed). After starting with the ball but having to punt, LaSalle’s defense scored quickly on Judge’s next possession. La Salle’s Mike Piscopo intercepted a pass by Judge QB Brian Hennessey and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.
After forcing a three and out, Forster went to work. First he completed a first-down pass to Sean Coleman. Then he ran 52 yards for a touchdown. Forster may not be the quickest to start with the ball, but once he finds a seam, he demonstrated the speed to get in the open field and leave the defense behind.
The kick for the extra point was good extending La Salle’s lead to 14-0 with 4:13 left in the first quarter. The teams next traded empty possessions. Cameron Cappo and Connor Daly made plays on defense for LaSalle. Cappo has looked good for LaSalle since coming back from a mid-season injury. Daly, a captain, is a consistent playmaker. Then Forster continued to look good throwing the ball, completing another first-down pass before breaking another long touchdown run. This time it was for 46 yards. He is a shifty runner, and takes advantage of the good push the offensive line gives him. There would be no more scoring before halftime and LaSalle led 21-0.
Any chance that Judge was going to get back into the game was dispelled on the first drive. They did manage a first down but were then forced to punt. La Salle’s Coleman received it at the LaSalle 44 and ran it all the way back for a touchdown and a 28-0 lead.
On the next possession Judge’s second-half quarterback Rob Daniels threw a deep pass connect to Tim Mills. But Forster continued his good day, intercepting the next pass. Then on the offensive, Villanova-bound Jamal Abdur-Rahman took the ball 50 yards for a touchdown.
The extra point was blocked, about the only thing to go wrong for the Explorers on the day. Still they led 34-0 on the way to the dominating win. Judge saved some grace with a late touchdown run by Nick Myers, with 3:46 left in the game. The Judge Crusaders fell to 6-3 with the loss.
“It was a good win a good team win, [in the] first round of the playoffs… kind of the start to the real season,” said Forster after the game. “Hopefully [we’ll] get better for next week. I haven’t been used to running the ball, but I like it… Whatever works. I think we’re in good position now, hopefully getting better, hope to win the league championship, then we’ll worry about everything else.
Coach Drew Gordon talked about the win. “Kevin made some big plays in the first half. Penalties were brutal. We can’t expect Jamal to break a play. Defense they were great tonight. Kevin now he’s doing a lot more, he’s done a super job, just a cool composed athlete.” About the title defense he said, “We don’t talk about it. We don’t compare them to last year, it’s their own quest. They have to come together at some point, last year they did. An intensity, haven’t seen it this year, I’m hoping, sometimes it comes at adversity. I think Judge was tougher than two weeks ago. We were good with the turnovers. Defense, we were making plays. They make big standards on themselves, lack of first downs. Special teams, kept them inside the 25. Offense it’s not as easy. We tried to spread the ball around. We’re looking for more consistency.” Then he said with a smile, “If Jamal didn’t run for those 50 yard touchdowns we could have a drive.”