Wildfires look to brighten Foresthill

Talented seniors hope to lead the team to the first playoff berth in history
By: Brian Fuchs Journal Sports Correspondent
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FORESTHILL — The smoke of a long summer has subsided and a 2-8 learning season is in the past. The Foresthill High football team remains and the addition of bright light at Sebastian Stadium has the Wildfires ready to burn up Friday nights. Last season coach Jim Herlehy made the move to the spread offense. Although the season didn’t go as anticipated, there were glimpses of promise with young quarterback Shawn Pyle. Pyle is a 5-10, 150-pound senior and entering into his second full season with the spread offense. The lessons of 2007 should pay dividends for Pyle’s 2008 year. “I have a lot more confidence and put the ball where it needs to be,” Pyle said. “I can read the defense a lot better this year.” Key returning players to help Pyle out are: 6-3, 190-pound senior running back/safety Kyle Potter, 6-2, 245-pound senior linemen Drew Bentley, and 5-10, 195-pound senior lineman Tom Meekers. Potter is a sheer nightmare at safety, causing havoc all over the field. He should provide some nice rushes and screen passes out of the backfield as well. Bentley was one of the top linemen on the team last year. He brings four years of experience to win the war in the trenches. Bentley’s fellow comrade, Meekers should help provide a stable backbone with Bentley on both sides of the ball. A strong point for Foresthill this season should be its defense, led by Potter. Herlehy is running with a 4-4 defense and allowing Potter to roam around in the secondary. Key components on this rugged defense are 6-0, 185-pound senior outside linebacker Mike Archbold. Archbold is a new transfer from Bear River. Other notables on defense are 6-0,170-pound junior Jake Henry (ILB) and 5-10, 155-pound junior Dimitri Vasquez (OLB). The defense is fairly experienced and Herlehy hopes the unit will keep Foresthill in more games this season. “The 4-4 defense is a much more aggressive scheme,” Herlehy said. “All off-season and every practice we have been preaching to the players to be more aggressive.” Switching from gap control to gap attack should get the Wildfires after the football more on defense, Herlehy said. The Foresthill offense might have lost its two leading receivers, but Pyle will be under center for his second straight year. After a full season in the spread offense in which he passed for 1,300 yards, Pyle is ready to improve on those stats. “Shawn Pyle is looking real good in practice,” Herlehy said. “He’s a lot more comfortable with the offense.” Ryan Kimler and Adam Theis this year graduated after big years in 2007, but there is a nice group of receivers willing to step up. Notables spreading wide on the gridiron are 5-9, 155-pound senior Devon Porteous and 6-1, 170-pound senior Aaron Cook. Juniors Travis Green, Christian Addington Matt Furness make up the rest of the potent offense. Junior running back/linebacker, Dimitri Vasquez should help out Potter in the pass blocking scheme and run game as well. “Losing wide receivers of Kimler and Theis’ caliber always hurts,” Pyle said. “However, this season we have a lot more depth at the receiver position, with more targets to throw to.” One big change for the Foresthill season is the addition of lights. Saturday games are a thing of the past. There will be glowing lights beckoning all of Foresthill to flock to the stadium on Friday nights. “The excitement in the community and school is high, very high,” Herlehy said. Playing on Fridays under the lights has much more exhilaration for the fans and brings tremendous atmosphere. The Foresthill community showed up to the Saturday games in a strong number, but expect the fans to show up on Fridays in full force. Foresthill plays in the Sacramento Metro League. Although the Wildfires were 2-8 last season, two of the wins came in league play. The Wildfires won their final two games of the season. Brookside Christian of Stockton visits tonight at 6 p.m. If the defense can get after the ball and Pyle stays composed, Foresthill believes it could be a great Friday night debut. “We received a lot of commitment in the offseason,” Herlehy said. “Our team is very young, but I feel they can do something this year.”