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Foresthill believes it can return to the division championship — and win it all

By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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Tommy Sawyer says his Foresthill football team is capable of completing a storybook ending to this year’s upcoming season.

The senior quarterback believes that not only can the Wildfires return to the Div. VI championship, but that they can win it after suffering a 62-6 defeat to Bradshaw Christian in last year’s championship game. 

The 2011 squad finished off the season 10-2, going 8-0 in the Sacramento Metro Athletic League to clinch the title with games to spare. 

Coach Jim Herlehy said he was a little worried that the Wildfires came into training camp with a sense of entitlement, expecting to be able to win games this season based off of prior triumphs. 

“We are returning some people who tasted that success,” Herlehy said Wednesday on the practice field just outside of Sebastian Stadium. “… Last year we had all these wins, and they might think this year it will be easy to get these wins. But that’s not how it works in this world. 

“I wouldn’t say they had that feeling, but I was worried. We’re going to get exactly what we earn this year. Just because we had success last year doesn’t mean anything this year. “

Sawyer noticed a little bit of entitlement, too, but not as much as his coach. 

“He had to be rough on the whole team to get the whole point across,” Sawyer said, “to get it through our minds that nothing will be handed to us.”

Herlehy said his team might not be as deep as last year, but he still thinks the 22-member squad — featuring 21 boys and one girl, senior Emily Perez — can go far when it comes time for the playoffs. 

Senior running back Wes Archbold, who rushed for 814 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 134 carries last year, is confident in the team’s ground game this year even though he acknowledged the offensive line is smaller this time around. The team roster lists just two players who top 200 pounds in linemen Nialls Hackley and Nathan Dickson.  

Archbold will be joined in the backfield with senior Rocky Thompson, who ran for 211 yards and four scores on 40 attempts in 2011. 

The two will anchor the defense as starting linebackers as well. Everybody on the team except for Sawyer will play on both sides of the ball. 

The Wildfires plan on executing out of the pistol on offense, and using a 3-4 base on the defensive side of the ball. 

For what it’s worth, Sawyer said Foresthill’s defense is “one of the most physical I’ve been up against.”

Meanwhile, Herlehy said the team still has some work to do before it’s prepared for the Friday, Aug. 24 opener against Marysville at home. On Saturday, Herlehy will get a better feel of where his team is at when the Wildfires host Golden Sierra for a scrimmage set to kick off at 7 p.m.

Archbold said the team is a real emotional bunch, even more so when they start going up against other teams. He added that the team was inspired and motivated last year to win after Herlehy’s son, Max, lost his battle with cancer. 

“It’s not as fresh in our minds but it’s still around,” Archbold said, “especially the seniors.” 

And those seniors, according to Archbold and Sawyer, would really like to win a division championship. 

Is that likely, or just a possibility?

“It’s very likely,” Sawyer said. “That’s what all of us want. None of us just want to win league. We want to go all the way again and get back to where we were and turn that (Bradshaw) game around. Every single one of us wants to make it back to that game.”

Reach Matthew Kimel at matthewk@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel

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Foresthill footballl schedule

8/24 vs. Marysville, 7 p.m.

8/31 @ San Juan, 7:30 p.m.

9/8 @Valley Christian, 7 p.m.

9/14 vs. Woodland Christian, 7 p.m.

9/21 @ Delta of Clarksburg, 7 p.m.

9/28 @ Cristo Rey, 7 p.m.

10/12 vs. Valley Christian, 7 p.m.

10/19 @  Woodland Christian, 7 p.m.

10/26 vs. Delta of Clarksburg, 7:30 p.m.

11/2 vs. Cristo Rey, 7:30 p.m.