By Dan Lovi
For The Signal
The last two winless Foothill League football teams, Hart and Canyon, met on Friday night at Valencia High School in the penultimate contest of this shortened five-game season.
A turnover-plagued first half hampered the Cowboys, who lost to the Indians 35-7, earning Hart head coach Rick Herrington his first career win.
“This whole five-game thing is a little strange, so maybe it’ll hit me a little later,” Herrington said. “But it’s nice, the kids played hard.”
It was the Indians who had the first turnover of the game, fumbling the ball on the second play from scrimmage.
But three plays later on the Cowboys’ first possession, quarterback Ty Sparks was intercepted by Hart defensive back Daniel Larkins, who had two picks on the night.
Freshman quarterback Tim Larkins also threw an interception on Hart’s third drive of the game, getting picked off by Canyon defensive back Colin Figueora, but didn’t turn the ball over for the rest of the contest.
“He’s going to be a good one. He can throw the ball well and he’s got a good head on his shoulders,” Herrington said about his quarterback. “For a freshman playing varsity, things go a lot of faster. He’s getting better. Our line gave him a little bit more time and he didn’t make too many mistakes.”
Hart’s first two scores came on the defensive end and on special teams, starting with an interception returned for a touchdown by defensive back Riley Bodemer.
Linebacker Chase DePaco then blocked a Canyon punt, scooped up the ball and returned it for a score.
A 27-yard touchdown pass from Tim Larkins to senior wideout Ryan Tomaszewski brought the score to 21-0 in the second quarter.
Hart’s defense scored once more on the next possession, as defensive end Dylan Vradenburg scooped up the ball on a botched pitch and took it to the house, giving the Indians a 28-0 lead going into halftime.
“The truth is we gave up three non-offensive touchdowns and that set us way back,” Canyon head coach Joe Maiale said. “Defense played lights out, so proud of what they did. They played hard. Offensively, we put ourselves in some bad spots. Pick-six, punt block and return. That’s the difference, it’s clear.”
Canyon was able to get points on the board to start the second half, as Ty Sparks threw a dart to Dominic Burton, who burned the defense and eluded would-be tacklers for a 69-yard touchdown.
Senior running back Ryan Rossi brought the score to 35-7 in the second half, charging through Canyon’s defense for a 4-yard touchdown.
After the game, longtime Hart head coach and now assistant Mike Herrington congratulated his brother on his first career win.
“He said, ‘First win, great job coach,’ It was awesome,” Rick said. “Mike was always known to empty all the Gatorade things for a big game, but I told him you don’t have to worry about that, there is no Gatorade so I didn’t have to worry about any baths. It’s always fun to get your first win. I waited 42 years to be a head coach, so it’s nice to get the first one.”
The Indians will look to close the season with back-to-back victories when they face the West Ranch Wildcats in a home contest on Thursday.
The Cowboys will look to close the season on a high note as they take on the Golden Valley Grizzlies at home on Friday.
“We know they’re tough, there are no easy weeks, no down weeks,” Maiale said about the upcoming game against Golden Valley. “We have to prepare and execute better. But you want to give this group a win. They’ve worked really hard.”