Burning ring of ’Fires: Foresthill coach will rock Mohawk if team wins section title

By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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At last week’s pregame dinner, a majority of the Foresthill High School football team’s players decided to get a group haircut.
The top-seeded Wildfires chose to rock Mohawks before Friday’s 32-26 victory over visiting Ripon Christian that punched Foresthill’s ticket to Saturday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Div. VI title game in Lodi against second-seeded Brookside Christian. 
And if you look closely down the sidelines at the Grape Bowl during this weekend’s 1 p.m. tilt, you’ll notice coach Jim Herlehy didn’t participate in the partially shaven-headed look. 
But Herlehy, who has been growing out a winning-streak beard for the past few months and hasn’t been to the barbershop in a while, says he’ll let his players carve into his fur if they can win the school’s first football section crown. 
“If we win the game, I’ll let them cut the Mohawk for me,” the coach said. 
While Herlehy’s spouse, Jamie, calls his current facial hair “an unfortunate beard,” he doesn’t think she’d be very fond of the ’hawk look either.
“My wife wouldn’t like it,” he said, “but she’d know it was temporary and could live with it.”
The Wildfires (10-1), who haven’t lost since Aug. 31, will have their hands full Saturday against the Brookside Christian Knights (9-2).
“Brookside is real big,” Herlehy said. “Look at their roster.”
The Knights feature 11 200-pound-plus players on a team of 30, including a 6-foot-3, 305-pound freshman in lineman Joshua Fala. They also have a group of shifty, skilled competitors.
“You watch film and see athletes that are really fast and explosive,” Herlehy said. “They’ve got a good combination of size and speed.”
The Knights use a committee of running backs that have tallied 1,743 yards and 40 touchdowns on the year. On paper they appear to have a pretty balanced attack, with quarterback Austin Caldron (2,709 passing yards, 28 TDs) averaging 246.3 yards per game in the air. Wide receiver Javier Rodriguez has grabbed 49 balls for 1,031 yards and 11 scores.
On the defensive side of the ball, Brookside Christian has recorded 45 sacks and picked off 16 passes.
The Wildfires, however, are trying not to get caught up in the numbers. They feel like that’s one thing that hurt them in last year’s 62-6 section title game loss to Bradshaw Christian. They hope the experience of playing in the big game last carry is beneficial this year.
“We plan on doing our thing,” Herlehy said. “Last year we tried to out-scheme ourselves a bit. We do good at what we do. We still feel good about it.”
Herlehy has been confident in his squad, which won the Sacramento Metro Athletic League, all year.
“We got a good mix on offense and a strong defense,” he said. “As a coach you want to capitalize when those elements come together.” 
And if his team wins Saturday, he knows he’s in for more than just a section-title celebration.
Said Herlehy: “I’ll be thrilled to have a Mohawk.” 
Reach Matthew Kimel at Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel