Hart High defensive back Da’Von Jones set the tone on Saugus’ very first play.
His interception was the first of four crucial Hart picks in the Indians’ 24-7 win Friday night at College of the Canyons, a win that secured a second place finish in the Foothill League.
CJ Stokes nabbed two picks of his own, one of which ended in a 44-yard return for the first Indian touchdown of the night in the second quarter.
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AJ Stanley broke Hart’s career interceptions record with his second-quarter grab. He now has 15 picks in his career as an Indian.
“I went in tonight not really thinking about the record too much,” said Stanley after the game. “I wasn’t thinking about it during the game, I was focused on the game and getting the win, but it feels good now for sure.”
Hart struggled on the ground, however, for the majority of the first half and into the third quarter. It didn’t help that Jones, also a running back, exited the game with a knee injury.
Aaron Rodriguez scored a field goal that gave the Indians a 10-0 lead going into the fourth quarter, and on the other side of those three points, the team found their mojo.
Linebacker Charles Ike went in at running back and scored two touchdowns of 2 and 26 yards to close out the fourth quarter. He finished the game with 10 carries for 75 yards.
“We threw Charles in there, so I think that was a good for us,” Stanley said. “We had to finish the game off, so our mentality was you just got to pound the ball down the field, and that’s what we did.”
The only Cents touchdown came with 10:25 left in the game in the form of a 90-yard kickoff return by Bishop Amir.
With the loss, Saugus finished third in league. Both teams can still make the playoffs, Hart in Division 3 and Saugus in Division 6. Brackets will be released Sunday.
“We’re going to work harder than ever,” Stanley said of Hart’s playoff approach. “We’ve just got to have the mentality that it’s any other game and we have to come out and play like we usually do.”