Holding onto a 26-0 lead with less than five minutes in the game, Ventura football’s offense lined up at the two-yard line with Hart’s defense opposite. The Indians pushed the Cougars back one yard. Ventura advanced two yards. “At this point we were just like, I don’t want to let them score,” said Hart defensive end CJ McMullen. “We were just giving it our all.” Although the Cougars (3-3) were close enough to spit into the end zone, Hart made the stop that sealed the shutout on Thursday night at Canyon High School.
“We were playing solid and did a good job against a team that has put up some points before,” said Indians coach Mike Herrington. “We were really proud of our guys’ efforts.” After a scoreless first quarter, the Indians (3-2) got on the board in the second quarter when quarterback JT Shrout made a seven-yard touchdown rush with 6:45 to go in the frame. Shrout then connected with DJ Palmer on a 19-yard pass and on the next drive, Shrout tossed another touchdown pass to Palmer for a 23-yard score with 9:44 left in the half. The senior quarterback was battling illness earlier in the week but managed to throw for 344 yards with two interceptions. “He gutted it out, he did a good job, he played solid for us and did some key things,” Herrington said. “Still made some mistakes but overall he did pretty good.” The Indians dented the scoreboard once more when McMullen brought Ventura quarterback Kyle Gerardi down for a safety, Hart’s fourth in five games, then added a field goal. Hart also had its hands full with Cougar running back Chuck Wick. “Chuck Wick was shifty,” McMullen said. “He could move … They busted out a couple of long runs, but I think we had a harder time stopping the run.” Hart now turns its attention to Valencia for its Foothill League opener on Friday. “We’ve still got more work to do,” McMullen said. “But we’re definitely getting better.”