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July 29, 2014

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high school football:

New look Foothill expects to again be competitive

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Sam Morris

Foothill High School football players Kyle Keplinger and Dylan Freiling.

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer celebrate the return of football season with an hour-long podcast diving into anything and everything regarding local high schools. They also look back on the victories by Bishop Gorman and Moapa Valley in the Sollenberger Classic and finish with week one picks.

Four large-school classification high schools have won football playoff games in each of the last two years.

Three of those four are easy to identify — two-time defending state champion Bishop Gorman, perennial Sunset Region power Palo Verde and reigning Sunrise champion Liberty.

Then, there is the fourth team — Foothill High.

Despite advancing to the Sunrise semifinals the last two years, having the state Gatorade Player of the Year last fall and typically fielding a competitive team, the Falcons seemingly always fly under the radar.

Last year, despite upsetting Las Vegas High in the 2009 Sunrise quarterfinals, Foothill wasn’t given much of a chance against the likes of Liberty, Del Sol and Silverado in Southeast Division play. Foothill proceeded to open the season with eight wins in finishing with a 10-2 record.

A new season begins for Foothill at 8 p.m. Thursday against visiting Durango , and just like years past, the Falcons will have something to prove. They return just nine starters — five on offense and four on defense — and will have a sophomore seeing his first action at quarterback.

Just don’t expect the Falcons to alter their expectations.

“I hope people think we are rebuilding,” Foothill coach Marty Redmond said. “I think we are reloading. I like how we don’t get respect because it doesn’t matter. You still have to show up on Friday nights at play.”

When the Falcons show up, they will likely have the best player on the field each week in senior Kyle Keplinger. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Keplinger plays virtually every skilled position on offense, rushing for 324 yards and five touchdowns last year and catching 39 passes for 628 yards and four scores. He even completed seven of 10 passes for 88 yards.

“He will be all over the place — receiver, corner, running back, quarterback,” Redmond said.

Quarterback Drew Doxtator is just a sophomore, but at 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, he has the tools to excel, Redmond said. At receiver, junior James Henderson (5-foot-10, 150 pounds) and senior Tyren Boykin (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) will be Doxtator’s primary targets.

Defensively, Foothill will have to replace Keegan Buck, its top player from last year who had 21 sacks and 125 tackles to win state player of the year honors.

Senior defensive end Scott Stigger (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) will anchor the defense along with two-way lineman Kevin Camacho (6-foot-2, 265 pounds), linebacker Dylan Freiling (5-foot-9, 185 pounds) and junior safety Tyler Morris (6-foot-2, 190 pounds).

“We’ll need a total team effort,” Redmond said of his defense. “It was a team effort last year, too. It’s just Keegan Buck made a lot of special plays.”

The new-look Foothill team will be on display Thursday for the entire area to see. The Foothill-Durango contest is the only game Thursday and the first contest of the season between two Nevada teams.

“We have to concentrate on being as disciplined as possible and giving a great effort,” Redmond said.

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