The Greyhounds logged a bittersweet ending to a resurgent high school football campaign on Friday at Montgomery, falling to a powerful Vikings’ squad, 48-3.
The loss gave Healdsburg a final league mark of 0-4 and 3-6 on the season, while the Vikings claimed a share of the NBL Redwood Division title at 3-1 and 7-3 overall.
By any measure, the 2021 campaign was a rousing success for Healdsburg, a program that entered the year mired in a 20-game losing skid dating back three years.
When first-year head coach Robert “Bear” Gray took the reigns last summer, his first order of business was to restore a winning culture to the locker room, an element that had marked the rich history of Healdsburg football for decades. The Hounds did just that, posting victories over Fort Bragg (20-14), Willits (27-7) and Kennedy of Richmond (13-6) in winning three of their first five games.
“If I had to choose one highlight for the season, our first win over Fort Bragg would be it,” Gray reflected. “Just seeing the look on the kids’ faces after that game said it all. I think at that point, a light came when they realized they could win.”
Third quarter sink Hounds
Healdsburg entered Friday’s finale at Montgomery a huge underdog, considering the Vikings came in at 6-3 overall and were battling for a league title. Meanwhile, the Hounds were down several key players due to injuries, with underclassmen filling most of the positions.
Montgomery came out swinging, mounting a long opening drive resulting in a touchdown and an early, 7-0 lead.
“When they marched right down the field and scored on that first drive I thought we might be in trouble, but we played them tough throughout the first half,” Gray said. “Montgomery was big, strong and fast.”
Healdsburg did not give an inch, holding the Vikings to just one more score in the first half, with the Hounds breaking the shutout on a 25-yard field goal from kicker Alan Avalos to make it 14-3 Montgomery at the half.
The game got out of hand in the decisive third quarter, with Vikings finding pay dirt four times to extend their lead to 42-3, adding a touchdown in the fourth quarter en route to a 48-3 rout.
Following the game, the Hounds walked away knowing that they’d left it all on the field this season.
“I told the kids that they did something that the team hasn’t done for a long time,” Gray said. “These kids have heart and they didn’t quit. Healdsburg should be proud of what these guys accomplished.”