Optimism swirls around Bill Johnson Community Stadium as Foothill High head coach Joey Brown returns his standout quarterback Jayden Gordon from a semifinal appearance a year ago. Brown is the only Shasta County coach to start the same quarterback for two straight years twice after he had section record-setter Trent Banner lead the way as a junior and senior in 2015-16.
Here’s a look at some key numbers for the Cougars as they head into the 2018 season:
Foothill won four of its six games by a combined 10 points last season with the largest being a four-point season opening win over West Valley. Foothill was 4-1 on the year in one-score games with the lone loss coming 22-21 at home against eventual Northern Section Division II runner-up Chico, giving up the game-winning score with 15 seconds remaining.
Gordon averaged 171.8 yards per game last season, good enough for 12th-best in the Northern Section. However, he ranks third among returners and looks to improve on those numbers for a Foothill squad needing leadership from a high-profile position. The dual-threat Gordon averaged 85.5 yards per game passing but was effective running the ball at 80.7 yards per game.
Although Shasta and Enterprise might garner more attention due to their length rivalry for the River Bowl, Foothill has adopted a strong rivalry with Enterprise over the past decade. The past five meetings have been decided by one score, two of which coming in the section playoffs. Close games and woulda, shoulda, coulda moments make for great arguments. Will the dramatics continue in 2018? From the viewers standpoint, let’s hope so.
Since Brown took over the program in 2013, the Cougars have had one 1,000-yard rusher, which came last season from Jeshua Womack (1,066 yards). In 2017, Foothill’s rushing attack set team-highs under Brown’s guidance in attempts (420), yards (2,204) and touchdowns (23). Womack’s total was more than the Cougars rushed for in 2014 as a team and was seven yards shy of tying the team’s 2015 total.
Foothill’s leading receiver last year was Chris Jacobsen with 19 catches for 263 yards and two touchdowns. Jacobsen’s 19 receptions ranks third among Shasta County players eligible to return in 2018 and his 263 yards ranks fourth.