By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
Former Oakcrest football coach Chuck Smith must have felt like it was his birthday when Austin Forvour transferred in from Buena Regional late in his sophomore year. All of a sudden, Smith had a 6-foot, 250-pound two-way lineman he could plug in for the next two years to help solidify both lines for the Falcons.
“We were fortunate because (Buena coach Jonathan) Caputo does a great job with those guys over there. As soon as we heard we were getting a guy from Buena, we were very excited. Especially a lineman, because you know they have the fundamentals. Once he came over, he solidified himself as being one of the team leaders right away. Not only on the field, but in the weight room as well,” Smith said. “He played guard (as a junior) then we moved him over to tackle. He was so versatile that we could move him around, and he really shored up the line. He’s very aggressive, hard working and always encouraging his teammates. He was an all-around good person to be around.”
Forvour teamed up with guys such as Kyle Miller and twins Armani and Armond Duren to help form one of the more powerful offensive lines in the Cape-Atlantic League. They were the foundation of an offense that featured strong-armed quarterback Kendall Elliott and bruising tailback Terrence Smith, who finished his career as the school’s all-time leading rusher with more than 2,000 career yards.
“We were a tight group on the offensive line. If we got that movement, and with Terrence behind us, if we just kept moving, as soon as he got to the second level he was gone,” Forvour said. “It’s thrilling. You get a good block and if you stay on it, Terrence is going to be right behind you then he’s gone. You just try to do your job and do it well, otherwise (the running game) gets stuffed.”
The Falcons went 5-5 last fall, but averaged more than 25 points per game. Their losses came against some of the top teams in the league, such as Buena, Bridgeton and Cedar Creek. They lost to Buena by just six points, to Bridgeton by two, and by two points in a playoff loss to Pemberton. But with Forvour leading the way, Oakcrest is now a yearly playoff contender, which is quite a turnaround for a team that won just one game a few years ago. The Falcons were hit hard by the loss of players when Cedar Creek opened up five years ago, but have steadily been building back up. They made the postseason the past two years, and with Forvour leading the charge they broke more than 40 weight room records, coach Smith said.
“Austin gave us that punch up front. He was very assertive blocking, got off the ball very well. He’s really into lifting and people fed off of him in the weight room. They saw him working hard, and all of a sudden this group of linemen sort of got this posse together and they were all pushing each other. Last year, we broke more than 40 weight room records, and a lot of that stemmed from Austin and his work ethic,” Smith said.
Forvour, a second-team All-Cape-Atlantic League selection last fall, is a completely different person once he steps onto a football field, Smith said.
“He has a whole different demeanor when he straps on his helmet. He’s kind of one of those throwback players. He doesn’t care what he looks like, he doesn’t care what he’s wearing. It’s not about the sneakers he’s wearing or the fancy gloves,” Smith said. “He was a great team player, and he really got the big guys. The linemen and the linebackers kind of had their own thing going, their own little group. They stuck together because they were always going at it in practice, and that intensity carried over into the weight room. You wish you always had guys like him. If we didn’t have him, that would have been a big hole on our line. We were fortunate he came to Oakcrest for his final two years.”
“I was a little nervous coming in. I started track there (late in sophomore year), so I knew some people who were going to play football,” Forvour said. “That’s just my natural instinct is to try to push people to their limits and get them going. I always wanted to be better, that was my goal.”
Forvour said he knows that being an offensive lineman means you have to put in a lot of work without getting much recognition, but he doesn’t mind. When Terrence Smith ran for a couple hundred yards and scored three touchdowns, or Elliott had a big game at quarterback, the linemen knew they had done their job, Forvour said.
“That’s who we are and what we do. We know what the position is. We know if (the backs) didn’t have us, they wouldn’t do as well as they did. We take it upon ourselves to congratulate each other. We don’t get the press, but we know how good we were,” Forvour said. “Oakcrest had a little bit of a rough time, but when I was a junior, we started kicking butt and taking names. It was a great year for that team, then leading up to senior year we knew we had (talent). We lost a couple of games we shouldn’t have, but overall it was a great time.”
Forvour said he plans to attend Atlantic Cape Community College and then hopefully transfer to Rutgers as he pursues a career in the medical field. But no matter what he does with his life from here on out, he’ll always have those Friday nights to look back on. And he’s already missing them.
“I’ll remember just being around the guys, Friday nights. We worked hard and it was just awesome being around that group of people. There’s nothing like it on Friday nights. I miss it every single day. Hearing the drums and the band play, and you’re walking out with your brothers who you sweated, you cried, you bled with, it’s just an awesome feeling you don’t get anywhere else. There’s no other feeling like it. Your adrenaline is pumping and you just want to get on that field and hit somebody,” Forvour said. “If I didn’t have football, I don’t know where I would be, to tell the truth. It changed me from a little boy to a man. You come out of eighth grade and everything moves so quickly. You get into that routine where you are in the weight room, then two-a-days, it’s just a great experience. It changed my life deeply. There are times where I look back on it and think I could have done something better, but when it comes down to it, we all put 100 percent out there so you can’t be sad with the outcome when you lay your heart on the line. I don’t have any regrets from my football career.”
“He’s one of those guys, he’ll do well. He’s a blue collar type of guy, and whatever he winds up doing, he will do it very well,” coach Smith said. “He’s a very determined kid, and a good kid.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays
By DAVE O’SULLIVAN