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July 18, 2019

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high school football:

Foothill uses kickoff return for a touchdown, onside kick to rally past Basic

2014 High School Football

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

From left, Foothill High School football players Corey Fisher, Sam Martin and Aedan Bartolowits July 21, 2014.

Prep Sports Now

The Green Valley Podcast

Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer discuss Green Valley's victory over Coronado and glance over the rest of the Sunrise. Brewer declares it 'The Green Valley Podcast' before they wrap up.

The Foothill High football team went from trailing host Basic by nine points in the fourth quarter Friday to grabbing the lead.

And, the Falcons’ rally happened in less than two minutes, helping them win the Battle for Boulder Highway, 34-30.

The teams, which are located two miles apart on opposite sides of Boulder Highway, combined for 34 points in the fourth quarter, including an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Foothill’s Bobby Merritt to start the comeback.

Merritt shouldn’t have had the chance to return the ball. Basic recovered a perfectly executed onside kick on the previous play, but the Wolves were called for offsides to force them to rekick.

That kick went to Merritt, who quickly changed the game’s momentum with a long touchdown, cutting the Foothill deficit to 23-21 with about 10:40 to play.

Foothill got the ball right back when it recovered an onside kick. A few plays later, Nick Gardner caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Devon Mueller for Foothill’s first lead of the game. The touchdowns were scored 92 seconds apart.

“We felt like they had the whole momentum in the first half,” Foothill coach Marty Redmond said. “We turned around and had it in the whole second half.”

Basic quickly responded.

Quarterback Aeneas McAllister’s 10-yard touchdown run with 4:34 remaining gave Basic the lead again, sending its packed homecoming crowd into a loud roar. The standing room only crowd on the Basic side wore black shirts to create a great home field advantage. The rivalry, which is always one of the most anticipated games of the season, lived up to the hype.

“The kids live for this game. I think both sides live for this game,” Redmond said. “Foothill-Basic is always like this. It is always a fantastic environment. It is a great high school atmosphere. I wish all of our games had this atmosphere.”

Foothill silenced the Basic faithful with less than two minutes remaining when Merritt scored his second touchdown of the quarter on a 6-yard run. Foothill’s defense followed by forcing a pair of Basic turnovers in the final two minutes to seal the victory, including an interception from Aedan Bartolowits on the game’s final play.

“In the first half, we didn’t come out fired up. They came out fired up,” Merritt said. “It was their homecoming game and they wanted it more. But we knew their homecoming hype wouldn’t last.”

After opening the season with a 1-3 record, Foothill has won three straight games. More important, the Falcons are 2-0 in the Southeast League and tied with Green Valley for first place.

“Our goal is to get better every practice, every day, every game,” Redmond said.

Foothill, who is already guaranteed a spot in the postseason, is playing for seeding during the final two regular season games. They play Coronado and Liberty — two teams that have also already clinched a playoff berth.

“Practice is where it counts,” Merritt said. “That is where we are improving. We need to focus on one game and go week-by-week. We can only focus on one game at a time, and that’s (next week against) Coronado.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 702-990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21

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