Foresthill avoids complacency, tops Valley Christian

By: Nick Hunte/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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NORTH HIGHLANDS — In a rematch between Foresthill High School and Valley Christian Academy, the Wildfires tamed the Lions 33-14 on Friday night at Highlands High School.

Foresthill (6-1 overall, 5-0 Sacramento Metro Athletic League) came up with four interceptions and led 19-0 at halftime on a 63-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Tom Sawyer to Ian Sykes and short scoring runs by Rocky Thompson and Wes Archbold.

Valley Christian showed life in the second half of its homecoming game. Following Thompson’s second short touchdown run, senior Wright Hagerty returned the kickoff 92 yards to score the Lions’ first touchdown with 7:02 left in the third quarter. Hagerty threw a 22-yard pass to Clint Heckman for Valley Christian’s other score.

Not only was this the homecoming game and senior night for Valley Christian (1-6, 1-5), but it was the team’s last home game. Some players were visibly disappointed with the loss, and a couple players broke down in tears.

“This game is bittersweet for us,” Valley Christian coach Todd Conroy said. “The seniors are upset that this is their last home game, but they leave this program much better; they’re stronger. We played a better game than the first time, obviously.”

Conroy said this has been a rebuilding season with only five seniors on the roster. He feels confident his juniors and underclassmen will step up next season and compete with Foresthill and other teams in the league.

“We’re close to being in the same position as (Foresthill) next year,” Conroy said. “We finally got to a point where we’re all on the same page offensively and defensively, and we’re hoping to continue that chemistry onto next season.”

Valley Christian struggled to overcome Foresthill’s defense in their two meetings. The Lions lost to the Wildfires 51-6 on Sept. 16 at Foresthill.

Wildfires coach Jim Herlehy said with his team earning a one-sided win over Valley Christian in the first game, he wanted to make sure his team didn’t get too comfortable heading into Friday’s game.

“We were in a dangerous situation with complacency and all that,” Herlehy said. “With that said, I think we came out of the gates pretty good, and I was happy.”

Sykes said he was satisfied with the Wildfires’ performance during the game and throughout the season.

“We’re all playing well together as a team. Our junior quarterback is stepping up and making the good reads and hitting the routes,” Sykes said.

With two games left, Herlehy said he wants to focus on one game at a time and not think too far beyond the regular season.

“In our league, we’ve seen everybody play each other close, so anything can happen,” Herlehy said. “We just need to focus on our regular season before we worry too much about the playoffs.”

Foresthill will be host to Woodland Christian (5-3, 3-3) on Oct. 28, and Valley Christian will travel to Clarksburg to play Delta (4-3, 4-1) in its season finale.

Conroy said despite the losing season, his players have shown considerable heart in every game.

“Our guys have never quit, not one game this year. They play from the first kickoff to the last gun, every quarter,” Conroy said. “It may not look like it in certain quarters, but they didn’t give up at all and they kept working hard.”