By Noelle Blumel
The Hart High School community was once again “Alive with Pride” recently, celebrating a stalwart of the school’s athletic program.
Hart High head football coach Mike Herrington’s recent decision to retire left many with a desire to say thank you for his contribution, which friends and family recently did via a socially distanced celebration at his home.
Members of the community shared kind words and presented him with a plaque to express their appreciation for his contributions.
Herrington’s legacy within the Hart community dates back 40 years when he began his first season as the Indians’ assistant football coach. He left briefly and ultimately came back as the varsity team’s head coach in 1989, where he remained until his retirement this past season.
Keith Matkin, the new co-athletic director for Hart High, was a freshman at Hart the year Herrington took over as head football coach.
“When I think of Hart High, I think of Mike Herrington and Larry Fiscus,” Matkin said. Fiscus has been a staple in the Hart High football and baseball programs for more than 40 years, serving as an equipment manager and controller of scoreboard operations. “They sort of sum up so much of our identity and what it means to be a part of the Hart community. Herrington is a teacher and coach and mentor and all those important things.”
Herrington was also a physical education instructor and previous co-athletic director, as well.
“Mike retiring is taking three of us to fill those three roles that he did all by himself, for such a long time,” Matkin said. “And there’s sort of that specter of him there, too. You want to make sure that in taking over one of his roles you do right by him.”
Over the course of Herrington’s reign as Hart’s football coach, he produced more than 300 victories.
He led the 1995 Indians team to a CIF Division 2 title, as well as winning the Division 2 championship in 2003 and 2013, won the CIF Northern Division and became CIF State finalists, and won the CIF Division 3 title for three consecutive years from 1998 to 2001.
Linda Peckham, also athletic director at Hart High, has known Herrington for more than 30 years and described him as a humble fixture within the community.
“The thing that comes to mind is just, ‘He’s a legend.’ I mean, I’m sure everyone says that,” Peckham said. “Hart football is synonymous with Mike Herrington.”
Peckham added that Hart’s staff has made a new coaching honor called “The Legacy Plaque” for the coaches who have retired and been a part of the Hart community for a long time. Herrington was awarded with the plaque, which will be showcased in the foyer of the Hart High gym.
Leaving a void
Jack McKeon, current Hart freshman football coach, said Herrington’s departure leaves a tough-to-fill void.
“I have older siblings who’ve played for him and I actually played for him in ‘85 and ‘86,” McKeon said. “He’s full of integrity. And when I say that, I mean he coached Hart kids and trusted his players.”
Richard Sears, former Hart JV football coach of 25 years, also said Herrington is a legendary component of Hart’s history, and hopes that this new and upcoming era of Hart football will “keep the tradition of success.”
“In my time there, because of him, I got to see a lot of great football and I got to see a lot of great athletes. And a lot of kids got a lot of scholarships because of Mike Herrington and the program that he runs,” Sears said. “A big piece of history has left Hart high school.”
Rick Herrington, Mike Herrington’s brother, will take over the Hart football program as head coach this upcoming season in fall 2020.