Coach John Shipp called it a "humbling experience" for his Fountain Valley High football team.
The Barons opened their season Friday against Foothill, played from behind all night and in the end, were doomed by costly mistakes that ultimately led to a 28-14 defeat at Huntington Beach High.
Fountain Valley's offense moved the ball all game but Foothill held the edge in execution, and in turnovers gained. The Knights came up with a fumble recovery in the first half to thwart a scoring drive by the Barons, and came up with a pair of interceptions in the final three minutes to secure the win.
Foothill didn't commit a turnover.
"Right now, we're not as good as we thought we would be," Shipp said. "We made too many mistakes and missed some plays. It was a battle of two offenses and their offense made more plays. They just executed better than we did, and the better team won tonight."
Fountain Valley had pulled into a 14-14 tie three plays into the fourth quarter when quarterback Chris d'Entremont teamed with wide receiver Wyatt Christensen on a nine-yard touchdown pass. Christensen made the catch at the five-yard line, shook off a tackle attempt by Foothill safety Jarrell Moss, and lunged into the end zone. Derek Huynen's conversion tied the score with 11:46 to play.
Foothill responded by scoring the go-ahead touchdown on its next possession. A quick scoring march that took just over three minutes culminated when quarterback Jack Gilchrist hit Bobby Okereke with an 18-yard scoring pass with 8:12 to play.
With 2:55 remaining, d'Entremont was intercepted and two plays later, the Knights put the game away when Gilchrist scored on a two-yard keeper. On Fountain Valley's next possession, the Barons moved into Foothill territory but d'Entremont was intercepted at the two-yard line by the Knights' Jullian Moss.
"We moved the ball but we stopped ourselves on several occasions tonight," Shipp said. "We're there, but not all there right now. We have to learn from tonight, and I think our guys will."
Fountain Valley fell behind, 7-0, when Gilchrist threw a 43-yard scoring pass to Moss with 2:31 left in the opening quarter. Moss did most of the work on the play as he went high to make the catch over Fountain Valley's Isaiah Davis at the Fountain Valley 23, then ran untouched to the end zone. The Barons came right back and used eight plays to reach the Foothill seven, the big play during the drive coming when
Fountain Valley drew even at 7-7 just before halftime. Christensen capped a 10-play, 68-yard drive when he took in a 14-yard scoring strike from d'Entremont on a third-down play with 23 seconds left in the half. It was the third, third-down play the duo had converted during the drive. Christensen earlier had kept the drive alive by making an 18-yard grab on third-and-16, and later gained 21 yards on third-and-eight from the Fountain Valley 46.
The Barons reached Foothill territory on three of their four first half possessions. d'Entremont had 146 passing yards by intermission with Christensen getting 65 of those yards on four receptions. d'Entremont finished with 277 yards passing and Christensen had 100 receiving yards.
The Barons had outgained the Knights, 212-135, in the first half.
After holding Fountain Valley to a three-and-out to start the second half, Foothill regained the lead on its opening drive. The Knights pieced together a nice, balanced five-play scoring march that ended on a five-yard touchdown run by Gilchrist with 7:47 left in the third quarter. The senior started the 64-yard drive with a 13-yard gain on a keeper, and two plays later hit Moss with a pass that went for 31 yards down to the Fountain Valley 11.
"This is the first game, and there's plenty of room for us to improve," Shipp said. "We have the talent on this team, without a doubt. We have to get better, and we will."
Fountain Valley travels next Friday to face Dana Hills. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Dana Hills High.
In another season opener Friday, Marina was edged, 28-23, by El Rancho at Westminster High. The Vikings host Kennedy next Friday at 7 p.m. at Westminster High.