Hart quarterback Nick Moore (10) tries to outrun a tackle by Valencia's Josh Washington (71) during their Foothill League opener at Valencia on Friday. Katharine Lotze/Signal
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Some of the factors look the same.

Hart High football is opening the playoffs on the road, again, against an undefeated team, again.

A few factors entering Friday night’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3 first-round game at Cathedral High of Los Angeles, however, are in the Indians’ favor.

For one thing, the Phantoms, while solid, are not the juggernaut that the 2015 Mission Viejo squad was.

Two, Hart (8-2) has a healthy Nick Moore at quarterback.

“Having Nick back definitely has hyped us up a little bit,” said Indians safety AJ Stanley.

In 2015, Moore tore his ACL and missed Hart’s final three games, including a drubbing at the hands of Mission Viejo in the first round of the CIF-SS West Valley Division playoffs.

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Then the Southern Section shifted to a competitive-equity-based postseason system that placed Hart in Division 3 and — after a handful of late upsets within the division — didn’t do the Indians any favors.

Cathedral is the No. 3 overall seed and champion of the Angelus League after beating St. Francis of La Canada late in the season.

However, Hart gained some perspective from the 49-14 loss to Mission Viejo.

“Mission Viejo was a great team,” Stanley said. “They whooped us pretty good. This year, going into it, we’re not thinking, ‘(Cathedral) is 10-0, we can’t hang with them.’ We’re going in with a positive attitude like we have had all season.”

That positivity received a boost as the Indians built steam in Foothill League play, winning their final three games by an average of 25 points.

Moore has accounted for 33 total touchdowns — 19 passing and 14 rushing.

Stanley broke the school’s career interceptions record last week (with 15) in a win over Saugus that propelled the Indians into a second-place finish in the Foothill League.

The Phantoms, though, will test Hart’s resolve with speed, and lots of it.

“They’re very fast,” said Hart coach Mike Herrington. “… We don’t match up great with that.”

Herrington sees the speed differential being a bigger factor when Cathedral is on offense.

The Phantoms, behind a two-quarterback system, have scored 36 points per game.

Senior Andrew Tovar has thrown for 1,838 yards, 18 touchdown and four interceptions, and freshman Bryce Young has thrown for 1,183 yards, 13 TDs and five picks.

Cathedral, also with speed on defense, has allowed just 12 points per game.

Hart will have to keep up or it will be another quick playoff exit for the Indians.

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Mason Nesbitt
Mason Nesbitt is The Santa Clarita Valley Signal's Sports Editor.
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