Hart looking to shore up D in preseason finale against Ventura

Hart's DaVon Jones (22) intercepts the pass on Saugus' first play of the game against Saugus defender Daniel Gilmartin (17). Dan Watson/The Signal

For Hart football, the last game of preleague is the last chance to make a good impression before Foothill League play begins.

The Indians (2-2 overall) have struggled thus far, but each game has brought progress. Thursday’s matchup against Ventura (3-2) is the prime opportunity to show that they’ve developed and can continue to do so.

In the last two games, Hart’s defense allowed 38 and 34 points. Coach Mike Herrington chalks it up to “mental breakdowns” in attempts to get the correct coverage and “a little bit of laziness, too.”

Da’Von Jones, who plays both safety and receiver, said that the defense is adjusting to more playing time than they’ve had in the past.

“We realized that we’re being on the field a lot more than we actually thought we would … so we’re just trying to put everything back together and get our mindset that we’re going to have to get a lot more conditioned and be ready to get back on the field whenever they need us,” Jones said.

Their focus tonight will be on Ventura quarterback Kyle Gerardi (86-of-146 for 1,185 yards and eight TDs) and running back Chuck Wick (74 carries, 397 yards and eight touchdowns).

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“We just have to play solid team defense,” Herrington said. “We can’t have one breakdown and that’s been our problem. If one guy breaks down on our scheme it opens holes, so that’s what we talked a great deal about.”

Solid team play will be key for the offense, too, along with keeping the game simple.

Quarterback JT Shrout has completed 69 of 127 passes for 949 yards and nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. He’s also rushed for 54 yards and three touchdowns.

He’s gotten the Indians out of a pinch on multiple occasions, but the hype that comes with being a Hart quarterback and receiving a scholarship to Cal might have had an unwanted side effect on him.

“I think he’s forced himself to play out of his comfort zone and try to make the big, outstanding highlight film type plays,” said Herrington. “He just needs to be relaxed, go through his read progressions and make the correct throws.”

Hart will play at Canyon High School at 7 p.m. instead of its usual College of the Canyons home due to COC’s busy Thursday class schedules.

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