Friday, Nov. 13, 2009 | 11:57 p.m.
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A Henderson area high school football team hasn’t played in the state championship game since Green Valley High in 1994.
That will change this year thanks to one of the biggest upsets in recent playoff history on Friday night in the Sunrise Regional quarterfinals.
Foothill's Miles Killebrew returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown with under one minute to play against perennial power Las Vegas High to lead the visiting Falcons to a shocking 27-20 victory and complete a sweep for Henderson schools in the quarterfinal round.
Foothill, the last seed from the Henderson based Southeast Division, advances to play Basic next Friday in the Sunrise semifinals.
Basic’s 1960 squad is the lone team from Henderson to win a state title. But Foothill’s upset of previously untouchable Las Vegas, the six-time defending regional champions, guarantees a Henderson school will play in the large-school championship game on Dec. 5 at Sam Boyd Stadium.
The Sunrise winner this fall earns a spot in the title game. Until Friday night, Las Vegas High was the favorite capture the spot.
“We have a great group of kids who work hard for us and who are coachable,” Foothill coach Marty Redmond said. “It’s a great situation because they really wanted to be out there getting better and we really enjoy coaching them.”
Foothill passed the ball more than 50 times with quarterback Parker Riggin throwing for 320 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore Kyle Keplinger had two receiving touchdowns and Tyrel Garner had the other.
“They did a great job on their short passing game and controlling the ball,” Las Vegas coach Chris Faircloth said. “They just kept the ball away from us.”
Las Vegas nearly tied the game in the final seconds, but quarterback Hassan Henderson was tackled inside Foothill’s 5-yard line and the clocked expired with Las Vegas out of timeouts.
Redmond, who has been part of Foothill’s coaching staff since the school opened in 1999, compared the excitement of dethroning Las Vegas to the long playoff runs Foothill had in its first few years of existence.
The Falcons lost in the state semifinals in 2001 and were the dominant team in the Henderson area for several years. After struggling most of the last three years, it appears they are back.
“This is right up there as one of the biggest wins for us,” Redmond said. “This was just extremely important for the kids and I’m so happy for them. Win or lose, they are a great group of kids.”
Las Vegas, which won the Northeast Division title to earn the top seed for the regional, scored first on a touchdown pass from Henderson to Saeveon Butler. Farrell Victor and Marquan Major each added touchdowns for the Wildcats.
But it wasn’t enough as Foothill found ways to exploit the Wildcats’ weaknesses.
“I don’t think we improved as much as we needed to improve this year,” Las Vegas coach Chris Faircloth said. “We need to do a better job of getting more out of what we have. “
Las Vegas last lost in the regional in 2002, falling to Desert Pines in the title game. They had won 18 straight regional games.
“We need to start getting better (for next year) on Monday,” Faircloth said.