When Forest Park's 1993 football schedule was made, coach Obie Barnes knew it would be difficult.
But he wasn't worried because he knew that for his squad to improve, it would have to play some of the toughest teams around.
It didn't hurt to have Robert Arthur in the backfield, either.
"The desire to be good is what sets him apart from the average athlete," Barnes said. "When you put pressure on an athlete, some will knuckle down and do what you ask and some will buckle under. B. J. takes it to heart, and he wants to give you more than you ask for."
Arthur, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior, has produced for the Foresters this season, rushing for 625 yards and five touchdowns. He also has been effective as a receiver, leading the team in catches with 10 for 129 yards.
With four games remaining, Arthur is on track to surpass his 1992 total of 733 yards rushing and six touchdowns. Friday, he rushed for 173 yards and scored the game's only touchdown in Forest Park's 6-0 victory over Walbrook, his fourth 100-plus-yard game of the season.
Arthur, who is called B. J. around school, credited the members of the Forest Park offensive unit for his success. For them, it has been a major challenge with one of the area's toughest schedules.
The Foresters (3-3) have played Cambridge-South Dorchester (12-0 loss), which was last season's Class 1A runner-up; Gilman (21-0 loss), the area's No. 3 team; and top-ranked City (16-15 loss). Still remaining on the schedule are No. 11 Dunbar and No. 9 Patterson, but Arthur thrives on the pressure of playing the best.
With a little help from his coach.
"Coach Barnes knows how to get to me," Arthur said. "When I'm on the field and I make a mistake, he'll tell me what I did wrong, then try to dog me, and he knows that gets to me. But that makes me play a whole lot better and that gets the team really pumped."
That was evident two weeks ago against City. Coming off back-to-back shutouts to Cambridge-South Dorchester and Gilman, the Foresters played their best game of the season in the one-point defeat. Arthur rushed for 111 yards and scored a touchdown.
Playing under pressure isn't new to Arthur. In his sophomore year, he was at Randallstown and played on the varsity squad, which, led by Larry Washington, now at Maryland, finished 13-0 and won the state Class 4A championship.
Last year, his parents moved from the county into the city and Arthur wanted to attend Forest Park. He had two good reasons.
First, it was the school his mother attended. Second, his uncle, Tommy Parker, attended Forest Park and went on to Maryland, where he played on three Atlantic Coast Conference championship teams from 1983 to 1986.
Arthur earned a starting spot at cornerback last season but later began playing some in the offensive backfield. He has spent this season strictly on offense.
"He runs the ball exceptionally well, and we can throw to him out of the backfield at any time," said Barnes, who is in his 16th year at Forest Park. "I feel that he's one of the top three running backs we had ever had at Forest Park."
Arthur, who plans to major in architecture in college, has received letters from Maryland, Towson State, Morgan State and Hampton.
But, unlike when he's on the football field, he doesn't feel any pressure.
"I would go to any school that I can," he said. "I'm not the type of person to be picky, not to say that I would jump on a junior college instead of waiting for a Division I school, but I'm trying to better my life by going to a college with a strong academic