Forest Hill 12, Spanish River 7: State's longest active losing streak ends at 37
Saturday, October 24, 2009
by Michael Laforgia
west palm beach — For the first time in 38 tries, Forest Hill won a game, snapping Florida's longest active high-school losing streak in a tense 12-7 victory against Spanish River on Friday night.
It was only the fifth win for the Falcons (1-7) this decade. And it was due in large part to the legs of senior running back Dexter Legette, who rushed 20 times for 135 yards.
"This step we're making right here," said coach Lamar Powell, after the fans' wild cheering had subsided and the players' tears mostly had dried. "We're trying to build a program here."
Forest Hill's last win was Oct. 20, 2005 — a season-ending 43-29 victory against Olympic Heights. Games were played on Thursday that week in preparation for Hurricane Wilma, which hit Palm Beach County on Monday morning.
Forest Hill entered the second half trailing 7-6. After a scoreless third quarter, the Falcons started a drive at the Sharks' 38-yard-line after a punt.
Six plays later, helped by a defensive holding call, Johnathan Shelton hit John Vilmenay streaking into the right corner of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown that put Forest Hill ahead 12-7. The try for two points failed.
Spanish River (0-7) wasn't finished, though. Sharks quarterback Grant Gullo led a desperate, last-minute drive from his 40 to the Falcons' 14. It ended there, however, after Forest Hill's Erron Watson intercepted a pass in the end zone with less than two minutes to play.
Watson then collapsed, jubilant.
"Aw man, I just started crying, really," said senior linebacker Jahmall Bryan, who has never seen his team win a game in the four years he has played for Forest Hill. "It just feels so special to finally win."
Forest Hill struck on its third possession when Legette ran 30 yards for the game's opening score. A hooked PAT by Luis Betancourt left Forest Hill up by six with 2:51 left in the first period.
But Spanish River's Chris Kelly returned the kickoff 79 yards and the Sharks went up 7-6 after Robby Tucker's extra point.
Things took a frustrating turn for the Falcons in the second quarter, when a holding call erased a 25-yard touchdown pass from Shelton to Vilmenay with 4:46 left in the period.
The Falcons got one more chance before the half expired, courtesy of a Kody Sawyer interception with 36 seconds left to play. But a 37-yard field-goal attempt by Betancourt fell short.
Spanish River continued to struggle on offense and has scored only three touchdowns this season.
Forest Hill, which still owns the state's longest losing streak of 43 straight losses from 1999-2003, goes for two in a row against Hollywood Hills (3-4, 0-1). A win would send the Falcons to the post-season.
Longest state losing streaks
Gms School Years
43 Forest Hill 1999-2003
39 Zephyrhills 1941-46*
38 Interlachen 1998-2001
38 Tampa Bay Tech 1979-83
37 Forest Hill 2005-2009
* Interrupted by World War II
Longest national losing streaks
Gms School Years
82 Glascock County HS (Ga.) 1990-99 *
80 Jefferson Davis HS (Houston) 1984-93
79 Sturgis HS (S.D.) 1997-06
* Was given a forfeit win in 1997