The first-year head coach believes they've laid a foundation for future success.

PMG FILE PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove sophomore quarterback Kaden Hale during a game this past season. Hale will be a key to the Vikes' future success.While the high school football elite continue to work their way through the state playoffs, Forest Grove first-year head coach Dominic Ferraro has spent the last couple of weeks evaluating how things went, along with how prepared they are for the future following his initial year on the sidelines at FGHS.

"Our goal as a group was to make the playoffs and I think we missed that by a spot or two in the rankings, so I think there was a little bit of disappointment there," Ferraro said. "But I think a lot of kids coming off the COVID season were just happy and excited to get some wins, and I think overall, coaches and players feel like we're pointing in the right direction."

The Vikings won three of their first five games and at the time were thinking playoffs. But with three losses over their last five contests, the Vikes finished 4-5 and were forced to watch the postseason from the sidelines.

Ferraro said there was more upside than down in his first season, citing the growth he saw in first-year sophomore quarterback Kaden Hale, along with the leadership from his junior class as a couple notable examples. Additionally, he said there was no give-up in this year's team, some of which the coach attributed to the message he and his staff delivered to the kids early-on.

"Our kids played hard," Ferraro said. "Much of that is reflection of who they are, but it can also be attributed to the expectation that our coaches came in with, which was that we were not going to be the team that gives up or quits. Our kids scratched and clawed and fought their way through some tough games, and that's definitely something to build on for the future."

Ferraro pointed to seniors like Trevor Cannon, David Johnson, and Kaden Clute who showed-out both on and off the field, shining despite their share of adversity, along with juniors Hunter Frohnert, Sam Blanton, and James Oberhelman, who the coach said displayed the passion he feels is necessary to ultimately get where they want to go.

PMG FILE PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove head coach Dominic Ferraro huddles with his team during a game this past season.
"These guys consistently showed up every day, were very coachable and did the little things that make a difference in the long run," Ferraro said. "You could see that some of the losses at the end of the year really affected these guys. You can tell that they truly want to change the culture of the program."

Over the five previous seasons the Vikes were a combined 11-32 and twice suffered through winless years. Due to such, the program had almost become comfortable with losing – something Ferraro said is unacceptable and must change.

"It's no one's fault, I just think it's an attitude that's been here and some have just accepted it," the first-year coach said. "That's not the standard anymore. I've told the kids a few times that the old Forest Grove is dead. We're going to do things a certain way and we lost a few kids because of it, but we're focused on winning."

In order to reach there winning goals, Ferraro said they'll need to improve their overall numbers for depth, but also – simply put – get stronger and faster across the board.

"We have to get stronger and we have to get faster, and those are things you can do if you commit to the weight room," he said. "We're doing those things now and come the new year and next spring, there are things we'll be doing to work on those areas. That's when you can make big strides."

And they are making strides. The coach speaks to things such as commitment, accountability, and fostering a family environment as cornerstones of his program, and he believes they've laid a solid foundation around such. That doesn't mean there won't be mistakes along the way, but that's okay as long as there's accountability to go with it. Because they're all working with one thing in mind, and that's winning – on and off the field.

"We're all here together and we're all here to try and win some football games," Ferraro said. "But also to be better teammates and better people."

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