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Wingenroth, Hart rout West in semifinal

Indians on to CIF championship showdown against Valencia

Posted: November 29, 2013 11:33 p.m.
Updated: November 29, 2013 11:33 p.m.

Hart's win over West of Torrance sets up a highly-anticipated showdown with Valencia for the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division championship.

 

Third place in the Foothill League seems like a distant memory for the Hart Indians.

Then again, the memories of Hart’s glory days and CIF championships of the past are starting to come back.

Connor Wingenroth’s five touchdowns led a Hart team that was firing on all cylinders for the third playoff game in a row, and the Indians trampled the West High Warriors of Torrance 42-7 on Friday night in a CIF-Southern Section Northern Division semifinal game at College of the Canyons.

The win puts Hart (11-2) back into a CIF championship game for the first time since 2007, when it lost to St. Bonaventure.

This time, the Indians face league rival Valencia, which beat Saugus 45-8 in the other semifinal game that took place across town on Friday.

“Everyone is playing to their fullest potential and everyone is hyped up and we just want to get that ring,” Wingenroth said.

The senior running back ran for 156 yards and four scores on 15 carries and also added 47 yards and a touchdown receiving.

He was coming off a record-breaking 285-yard performance two weeks ago against Paso Robles and another 278 yards last week against Palos Verdes.

After missing time in the middle of the season due to a separated shoulder, the senior said, “I have something to prove being out four games. I had to help out my team.”

His final carry of the game was a shifty 60-yard scoring scamper on an option play with 7:44 left in the third quarter.

That made it 42-0. Not long after that, most of Hart’s starting lineup was on the bench as the remaining minutes on the clock bled away.

This was the third impressive win in a row for an Indians team that lost its final two regular-season games against Valencia and Canyon.

Valencia beat Hart 24-19 on Nov. 1 to capture a Foothill title and leave Hart in the dust.

The rematch is set for Friday at Valencia High School at 7 p.m.

“We might have lost the league title to them, but now it’s CIF,” said Hart quarterback Brady White.

The junior completed 12-of-28 passes for 174 yards and the one touchdown toss to Wingenroth.

But the way Hart was running the ball and stuffing West Torrance (10-3) on defense made it so White didn’t need to be at his best.

The Warriors were unable to establish a running game with their leading rusher Brett Ojiyi ruled ineligible for the postseason.

Even when West did move the ball, Hart ended the threat with a big tackle for loss or turnover.

“Against teams like those, you can’t fall behind,” said West High quarterback Zach Heeger.

Heeger threw three interceptions on the night, two of which went to Hart’s Trent .

Irwin picked off a Heeger pass and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the first half, which made it a 35-0 score at the break.

“Some nights you execute, some nights you don’t, and this was one of the nights we didn’t,” said Heeger, whose team was third place in the Bay League before upsetting Canyon in the first round of the playoffs.

Heeger ended up 18-for-34 passing with 155 yards and West ran for a team total of 90 yards.

Meanwhile, Hart was taking full advantage of the favorable field position via turnovers and defensive stands.

Wingenroth went right up the middle for a 35-yard score on Hart’s first possession of the game and he added another 9-yard touchdown run later in the first quarter to make it a 14-0 game.

The senior caught a swing pass and took in 12 yards into the end zone midway through the second quarter to cap off another drive on a short field.

His fourth score of the first half was a 4-yard run with 4:59 to go in the second to give his team a 28-0 advantage.

At that point, Hart was well on its way to a title game.

“They’ve been working hard,” said Hart head coach Mike Herrington. “They were embarrassed about the way they finished league.”

Hart has won eight CIF titles in school history and six with Herrington as head coach, the last one coming in 2003.

“We’re in the finals and the kids are playing well,” Herrington said. “I don’t care about the past. I care about this team.”

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