Hart and Sierra Canyon made it clear how they felt about each other well before kickoff Friday night.
Players had gone back and forth on social media all week and, as the national anthem wrapped up at Granada Hills, Sierra Canyon players bounced around and motioned toward the Hart sideline.
That made the Indians’ 21-7 first-round victory all the sweeter over a Trailblazers team that took down the likes of Calabasas in the regular season. Hart will play Rancho Verde of Moreno Valley next Friday.
“Sierra Canyon (takes players from) up in our area and I think there might have been some lack of respect,” Hart coach Mike Herrington said. “I think some of those guys thought our program was beneath theirs. Our guys took it to heart.”
JT Shrout put the game away with a 27-yard fade down the sideline to Michael Uribe on a 4th-and-7 as Hart (8-3) went up by two touchdowns with a little over five minutes to play.
“We were a little out of our kicker’s range, so (coach Mike Herrington) made the call to go for it,” Shrout said. “They actually had our first read on that play covered. We just stuck with the progression and it panned out.”
Da’Von Jones picked off Chayden Peery with less than a minute left to put Hart into victory formation.
“We played with a lot of these guys in youth football, thinking they’d be our teammates at Hart,” said running back Ben Rosen, who gave Hart a 14-7 lead with a 2-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. “We also kind of wanted to prove a point to the CIF after we got kind of the raw end (with the pairing).”
Sierra Canyon (8-3) was minus two-way standout Corey Jones, who has an offer from UCLA, and Michael Myrick, one of its many talented running backs. But, unless that duo had plans of lining up in the trenches, it likely wouldn’t have mattered all that much.
CJ McMullen tallied seven sacks and a forced fumble, pushing his season total to 24 – a Hart record, according to Herrington. He blew past the record (19, set by George Kase in 1993) with three sacks in the first quarter.
“I was pumped to get the record early and I just never let my motor stop running,” McMullen said. “And it’s not going to stop next week.”
Shrout opened the scoring with a 16-yard touchdown to Jones early in the second quarter. Sierra Canyon tied things up on a 20-yard pass from Peery to J.J. Hernandez in the third quarter.