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No. 4: Newman football team fights to the end

Lesser teams might have collapsed under the weight of their hardships. Three starters on the Cardinal Newman football squad lost homes in the October wildfires, and many others were displaced.

Despite not having access to their practice facility at the school’s fire-ravaged campus, the Cardinals nonetheless stamped themselves as the top football program in the region.

With no home-field advantage to help them, the Cardinals captured the North Bay League championship, then marched with grit and determination through the playoffs.

They eliminated NBL rival Rancho Cotate in the Division 3 section semifinals with a stirring, improbable rally in the game’s final minute.

Ultimately, it took an extraordinary effort by Marin Catholic in the NCS championship to finally subdue the Cardinals 59-56.

No. 5: Fortuna football player collapses

The beginning of the Fortuna High School football season, which would end with the school’s first CIF state championship, was marred by the unexpected and devastating sight of Bailey Foley being rushed away from the Cardinal Newman football field in an ambulance.

Foley, a standout two-way player for the Huskies, had complained of cramps on the sideline, began having seizures and was rushed to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. He had suffered a stroke and remains hospitalized four months later at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland.

Foley remained an emotional catalyst for the Huskies. Team captain J.B Lewis carried his teammate’s uniform jersey to midfield for the coin toss each game, including the state championship victory against Katella at Anaheim on Dec. 16.

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