Larkins’ five total TDs, Irwin’s four lead Indians to 44-14 bounceback victory
Timmy Larkins and Shawn Irwin have been the fulcrum of the Hart offense for three years now. Before that, the two played youth football together.
As seniors this year, the two are showing just how great their connection is.
“It’s really been 10 years,” Irwin said. “So, our connection’s like crazy, you know.”
Larkins had five total touchdowns while Irwin had three on Friday night at College of the Canyons’ Cougar Stadium as the Indians (5-2, 2-1) took down the visiting Saugus Centurions (0-7, 0-3), 44-14.
The Indians were desperate to show how good they can be after losing to West Ranch last week despite a 17-0 halftime lead.
“It was huge, great for confidence because we should have won last game, but we had a terrible second half,” Irwin said. “That just happens, but we just got to bounce back.”
Larkins needed just two plays from scrimmage to get Hart on the board, hitting junior Parker Maxwell for a 35-yard score. Those two would hook up on the final offensive play of the half, a 2-yard strike.
The Indians would have to wait nearly a full quarter to get back in the end zone when Larkins hit Irwin on a 32-yard dart to start the second quarter. Irwin got his second touchdown on a 94-yard kickoff return before getting his hat trick on a 77-yard screen-and-run.
“It’s super easy for us. It just comes easy to us,” Larkins said. “The one where I’m rolling out, he cuts across the middle, it’s just something we both see. And we both pretty much know what’s going to happen when I throw back-shoulder ball deep like that first one.”
The play happened so fast, Hart head coach Rick Herrington only saw the final 40 yards of the run as he was talking to his defense.
“I was over here with the defense or something, then all of a sudden, I heard the crowd,” Herrington said. “As soon as I hear the crowd yell, then I might peek, (possibly) yell at our players if they’re not watching the TV while we’re on offense.”
Irwin got to show his speed on that play, but Larkins showed that he’s no slouch in the running game, either. The former running back — in his youth football days — ripped off a 48-yard run for a touchdown a few minutes after Irwin’s return touchdown.
“When I was like 6 and 7, I played running back and quarterback,” Larkins said. “So, I’d run the ball, and then they’d switch me to quarterback and I’d throw the deep ball. I mean, I’ve slowed down a lot, I used to be faster for the age, but …”
Larkins finished with 331 passing yards on just 21 attempts, adding four runs for 58 yards. Irwin had six catches for 174 yards.
Hart senior kicker Bennett Murphy had the only points in the second half, hitting a 21-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Hart senior Chris Clauss didn’t have much to do on offense, though he was crucial to moving the chains in the first half. Herrington chose to use junior Timmy Tadler, a transfer from Santa Clarita Christian who became eligible last week but got his first meaningful Foothill League minutes on Friday, in the second half.
“We wanted to get him some carries, see how he does,” Herrington said. “And he’ll get better and better, too. He’s got some speed. That’s what we need back there.”
Tadler finished with 16 yards on seven carries.
Indians senior Nate Mata recorded two sacks on the day to give him a team-leading six on the year, while junior Zack Rogozik picked up his first interception of the season.
Saugus got its first points in league play in the first half. First it was sophomore Jake Nuttall hitting junior Christian Lozano on a dump pass, which resulted in a 19-yard score. Senior Kayden Ky-Yeith ripped off a 96-yard run for a score with a minute to go in the half.
Those were the first points the Centurions had put up since week three against Camarillo.
Nuttall finished with 181 passing yards, while Ky-Yeith had 141 rushing yards on just 11 attempts.
Saugus coach Jason Bornn liked what he saw from his sophomore quarterback, who looks to be settling in after getting thrown into the fire midway through the season.
“He did some good things and he still makes excellent reads and throws,” Bornn said. “There’s always room for growth, but we’re happy with what he’s doing so far.”
Saugus junior Jonathan Sabatucci hauled in a 56-yard catch to set up the first Saugus touchdown. Sophomore Degan Grant had a team-high seven catches for 42 yards, while senior CJ Mound had three catches for 27 yards.
Bornn said that freshman Jayden Lepley is expected to be back for next week’s game against Castaic (5-2, 2-1). Lepley was injured against West Ranch two weeks ago, with the officials calling the game early midway through the fourth quarter after a long delay.
The Centurions aren’t playing for much more than pride at this point, and Bornn is looking for his players to finish with some of that.
“It’s the same every week, just continue to battle, continue to compete — just don’t quit,” Bornn said. “Obviously, things aren’t going the way that we had hoped that they would go this year, but you know what, that’s life. You know, sometimes things aren’t gonna go the way you want and you just got to keep plugging away.”
Hart will be looking to add to its momentum when the Indians take on the Canyon Cowboys (5-2, 1-2) back at COC next week. The Indians haven’t clinched anything yet in terms of a playoff spot, but another win could very well do it with only three games left in the regular season.
“We gotta keep winning,” Herrington said. “Our guys realized that they were embarrassed last week, which is good. They learned something and they came out, played really well.”