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Right from the beginning, Heritage’s players were bought into this new culture.
During the last few seasons, Heritage struggled to compete in an ever-growing and tough Bay Valley Athletic League, going a combined 3-17 over the past two seasons while watching its city rival, Liberty, win a state title in 2018 and then win 10 games in 2019.
And its last playoff victories came in 2016 and 2017.
“He really told us that we really have to change the culture at this school,” said Heritage sophomore running back Devon Rivers, who is California’s No. 4 rusher. “No teams are going to respect us until they see that we’ve changed from the last five years, six years, but it really set in, especially for the seniors because they’ve realized that it takes a lot. It doesn’t take a little bit to make a good team. Our team has really come along.”
The Patriots really did come along, despite roster numbers dwindling like it has at most schools this year due to the pandemic and elongated offseason.
They are 3-1, with the only defeat coming in 35-16 fashion to No. 3 Pittsburg, and that was a day they competed for much of the contest and made it interesting. They boast a 40-point win over Granada, a 23-point win over Deer Valley and a recent seven-point win over Freedom.
“I think we’ve played pretty good,” said Heritage senior defensive back and receiver Jaden Price. “We’ve had a lot of mistakes. Like, for example, last game it should have never been that close, but it was and we pulled through. We just have this good brotherhood to where we pull through all these little mishaps. And we see the sideline and we’re all riled up. If we didn’t have the sideline, every single person on the team makes a difference.”
One thing every Heritage player points to is the brotherhood within the program, constantly rallying for each other.
Not one athlete is bigger than the program, and it has shown in the results, as the Patriots are in second place in the Bay Valley Athletic League standings with a 2-1 league mark.
“Ever since last year, the culture has really changed,” River said. “The seniors and coach Fogie (Dave Fogelstrom) really stepped up making this team a whole again and not just playing selfishly. I think that’s our biggest strongpoint is our team plays together and not everybody worrying about who has stars. None of that. We just play as a team, come together and get stuff done.”
It’s all about the “All In” culture Fogelstrom brought in as the new head coach – going all in on the football field, in the classroom, weight room sessions, conditioning.
Heritage is now just a couple of wins away from tying its best-ever league mark of 4-1. Victories over Antioch and Liberty would put it in school lore forever.
“We’ve adjusted really well,” said Heritage senior quarterback Asher Haynes. “The culture here is completely different. It feels just way better. Just practices, weight room sessions and everything just feels really good.”
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