By Jon Stein
For The Signal
Over the years, Hart and Canyon have played for first, last, Foothill League titles, CIF titles and everything in between.
But it was impossible to ignore that Friday’s 35-18 Indians’ victory in the 50th meeting between the Santa Clarita Valley’s oldest rivals lacked the enthusiasm of decades prior.
“With the opening of other schools, the rivalry kind of has died a little,” said Hart head coach Mike Herrington, who said he has been involved as a spectator or coach in all but one contest between the schools since the inaugural match up in 1969. “But it’s still Hart-Canyon and it means a lot to win this game.”
The game was featured as part of the 2017 Great American Rivalry Series, with wide receiver Da’von Jones taking home MVP honors after scoring two first-half touchdowns on a 27-yard reception and a 23-yard end-around that put Hart up 14-10 after the Cowboys had taken their first, and only, lead of the game.
Canyon (3-4 overall, 0-2 Foothill League) took that 10-7 lead on a six-yard rush from quarterback Shawn Gallagher after Anthony Gutierrez picked off Hart quarterback JT Shrout.
“We didn’t let the (Cowboys’) score get to us,” Jones said. “We’ve been there before. We were able to get a score and put the defense back out on the field.”
Entering the game, Canyon knew Hart’s offense would look to be pass heavy with Shrout under center.
The senior quarterback found his yards, going 22-of-38 with 279 yards and a touchdown, but the Canyon defense threw consistent pressure at him from all angles, and turned in three interceptions.
“(The game plan) was to do what we did,” said Canyon head coach Rich Gutierrez. We got three picks and should have had five.”
Despite trailing 21-7 at halftime, Canyon continued to fight down the stretch and pulled within 28-18 on a 25-yard run from Gallagher, who added a 2-point conversion after the score.
The Indians (4-3, 1-1), though, turned to the ground, as running back Ben Rosen found the end zone three times, once from the 5-yard line and twice from the 1.
Rosen finished with 22 carries for 102 yards and the three scores.