Hart football gets early test in scrimmage against Paraclete

Hart senior Drew Munoz runs to the sideline in a scrimmage against Paraclete at College of the Canyons Friday night. Cory Rubin/The Signal

On Friday night at College of the Canyons, the Hart football team got a little taste of competitive action as it took on Paraclete in a scrimmage as both teams prepare for the start of the season next week.

The atmosphere was fun and friendly, especially with Hart head coach Mike Herrington taking on his brother Dean Herrington, the head coach at Paraclete. Both teams still played aggressively, however, as the sound of thunderous tackles filled Cougar Stadium.

“It’s really fun. It’s a good experience for the team, getting ready to go into Carlsbad,” said defensive end Dylan Vradenburg. “It’s a good experience to go against someone besides our scout team.”

The evening started with special teams running plays as the Indians and Spirits took turns with kickoffs, punts and field goals. 

After the special teams plays, the Indians started on offense, running 12 consecutive plays before giving the ball to the Spirits and bringing the defense on the field.

Quarterback Zach Johnson looked sharp early, connecting with his receivers on his first three pass attempts. 

Johnson also showed glimpses of his ability to use his feet to make plays. On one occasion, he scrambled out of the pocket after a play broke down and was able to take it to the house for a 30-yard score. 

Hart senior Zach Johnson scrambles for a touchdown in a scrimmage against Paraclete at College of the Canyons Friday night. Cory Rubin/The Signal

“It’s always good to get another good look, you can never have too many,” Johnson said. “You’re always going to see a different defense, different personnel so it’s a great way for our whole team to learn. Great way to get a little bit of extra work in, it’s extremely helpful going into next week.”

Starting senior running back Taden Littleford didn’t see any action in order to rest his body before the start of the season, so junior running back Ryan Rossi got plenty of first-team reps. He looked elusive and strong and was able to hit the hole with ferocity on a few rushing attempts.

The defense looked quick, especially Vradenburg and the rest of the defensive line. Paraclete was flagged for holding on several occasions because they couldn’t hold back the explosive line.

“It’s going to be really important for us to get our three and outs,” Vradenburg said. “Get off the field, give Zach and the offense a chance to get on the field.”

The night was extra special for Johnson, as he got to go up against his quarterback coach and mentor, Dean.

“It’s always a little bit of extra competition in the back of your head, you want to give it to him a little bit, he wants to give it back,” Johnson said with a smile. “It’s all just good competitive fun, gets us into that mindset and carries us into the rest of the season. That really competitive mindset we need to have week in and week out.”

Hart will open the season against Carlsbad on the road on Friday. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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