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Wildfires’ play brightens Foresthill Friday nights

By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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The atmosphere is electric as the lights power up in Sebastian Stadium.
The Foresthill High football team takes the field amidst a backdrop of towering pine trees. Fans fill the stands and even overflow onto a grassy hill overlooking the field.
Right now, it’d be tough to find more than a few people at Worton’s Market, or bustling around town.
It’s Friday night, and all of the action on the hill is on the field, where the undefeated Wildfires have been putting on a show each week this season.
Principal Sue Lunsford said the team provides an identity for the community.
Before the high school opened in 2004 it was an abandoned mill. The loss of the mill left a void in the community that the high school has filled. It has the true small-town spirit. If kids aren’t polite, their parents hear about it. Lunsford said that type of community fosters integrity.
She also said it makes many of the players famous in a small town.
“It’s the local hub. It’s usually packed,” Lunsford said. “If you do something outstanding at a game or a have a great play, you are a celebrity.”
Now that the Division VI team is 9-1 and a league champion, it is also getting notoriety, having beaten schools from all over the Northern California region.
“It’s really neat to see kids get recognition for the kinds of things that they do,” Lunsford said.
Foresthill football coach Jim Herlehy said he is so focused on the game that sometimes he forgets about the crowd. Herlehy said being a small-town coach is especially fun when the team is winning.
“It’s big,” Herlehy said. “I’ve got people talking about they read this or that about us in the paper. You get asked about the game in town.”
Herlehy’s family moved to Foresthill after he took the job as a teacher at the high school. His children often make it out to the practices and can often be seen on the sidelines. His son Max passed away last year from Leukemia. He was the team’s No. 1 fan. The entire town supported the Herlehys through their loss. Hurlehy said in a bigger town that type of support would have been difficult to come by.
Friday night the Wildfires will aim to continue their bid for a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI title at Sebastian Stadium. They host Vacaville Christian at 7 p.m.
“I guess if we don’t do well, I better hide,” Herlehy joked.
Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.