Hart senior quarterback Tim Larkins and wide receiver Shawn Irwin lit up the night in Friday’s win over the Canyon Cowboys.
The Indians rolled the Cowboys 41-7 at College of the Canyons, marking the 10th straight Hart (5-2, 3-1) win over Canyon (5-3, 1-3) thanks in part to the senior duo.
Irwin torched the Canyon secondary and finished the night with 10 catches for 160 yards and a trio of touchdowns.
Irwin was a tough task for the Canyon secondary. The senior easily shifted gears, going from full sprinting in one direction to curling back or swinging another way for numerous wide-open catches from Larkins.
“It’s there, everybody sees it,” Larkins said on his chemistry with Irwin. “The amount of receptions and yards, we have such high numbers and it keeps growing. I think we can see that from junior to senior season. It’s just grown more and more.”
Irwin received “you can’t guard him” chants from his student section after reeling in a 32-yard prayer of a heave from Larkins.
“Yeah it’s crazy,” Irwin said. “They’ve been saying that for the last couple of weeks. They’ve been calling me ‘Can’t guard Shawn’ and stuff like that. Just as a funny reminder.”
Hart took control of the game in the second quarter, where the team started an unanswered scoring run of all 41 of its points.
Larkins found junior Parker Maxwell for a 29-yard touchdown to start off the scoring. Larkins continued his aerial assault and found Irwin and Chris Clauss for touchdown receptions in the second quarter.
“Honestly, it came down to just Tim throwing the ball where it needed to be because (the Cowboys) have Jeremiah Taylor who’s playing corner me and he’s a stud,” Irwin said. “So it just really came down to O-Line holding and Tim getting there.”
Larkins finished the game 23-for-30 with 307 yards passing and five touchdowns.
The Cowboys zeroed in on stopping Clauss in the run game but fell victim to the Indians’ passing game. Hart was limited to under 30 yards on the ground.
Canyon found success in the ground game early on in the night. Cowboys’ senior running back Ganisten Turner piled up 38 yards on his first three touches, but Hart’s defense quickly adjusted to his speed.
Turner had a solid first half but fumbled on his first touch of the third quarter on Canyon’s red zone. Hart quickly responded, as Larkins hit Irwin for a 1-yard TD pass.
Junior Evan Watts is typically the team’s power runner, as well as a spark plug on both offense and defense. While Watts made his presence felt pressuring Larkins all night, he didn’t touch the ball on offense until late in the fourth quarter.
Watts’ first touch was a 14-yard rush, which later helped Canyon take its only score of the game, a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sebastian Martinez to receiver Caleb Sparks.
Hart’s defense was often impenetrable. Vincent Tiscareno and James Freude added defensive sacks for the Indians while senior Mason Ganshirt ran back the game’s only interception for a pick-six.
The defense shined and has now held opponents under 15 points six times this year. Hart also posted its most lopsided win over Canyon in five years and did so in a year that hasn’t been an off year for the Cowboys.
Indians head coach Rick Herrington was proud of his team’s defensive efforts.
“Our defense is good, everyone’s got a role,” Herrington said. “We have little hiccups but most of the time, they’re playing pretty solid.”
Canyon caught Hart off guard a handful of times. The Cowboys converted on fourth and long after running an either fake punt or play it by ear punt. Taylor was also able to make some plays on special teams, with a few big returns.
Canyon will look to rebound next week when the team returns to COC to face Saugus.
Hart now moves on to take on the undefeated Valencia Vikings. Larkins and Irwin have won two straight over Valencia and are looking for the three-peat next week.
A win over the Vikings would shake up the Foothill League standings and put a potential three-way tie for first place in play.
“I hope it’s a fun one because that means we’re in the game,” Herrington said on the Valencia game. “Our guys will be excited about it. They like that game and I’m sure Valencia likes playing us. Hopefully two good teams will get after it for a little bit, and we’ll see what happens.”
Canyon heads to COC to take on Saugus while Hart heads to Valencia on Friday at 7 p.m.
“It’s gonna take a lot and it might be very difficult,” Irwin said. “We’re going to be beat up after I can guarantee that because they’re a very physical team but with good practice, we got this.”