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Hart football keeps the theme

Posted: August 27, 2014 10:31 p.m.
Updated: August 27, 2014 10:31 p.m.

Hart High senior strong safety Blake Fall is one of two returning starters for the Indians on the defensive side of the ball. Last season Fall had 82 tackles, four pass deflections and a fumble recovery.

The storyline for most Foothill League teams coming into the 2014 season is whether they can overcome heavy losses on defense and still contain the consistently strong offenses they face in league play.

In fact, of the 22 players on the first and second All-Santa Clarita Valley defensive teams, only one — Canyon defensive back Israel Cabrera — is back this season.

The Hart Indians are no different as they look to replace nine of the 11 starters on the defensive side of the ball.

The reigning CIF-Southern Section Northern Division champions will be greatly missing the production of first-team All-CIF defenders Garrett Updegraft, Wes Fitzpatrick and David Russon, as well as All-SCV first teamer Blake Porter on the line.

“Things have gone well in practice, but we have a lot of new faces out there,” said Hart head coach Mike Herrington. “We’ll find more out about this group after our first real game. We just have to wait and see how they perform in a competitive environment because it’s obviously a lot different than in practice.”

With such a strong group of players now gone, the responsibility to lead falls on the Indians returning safety, senior Blake Fall.

Last season Fall racked up 82 tackles, four pass deflections and one fumble recovery.

Now he’s in charge of an inexperienced group in the secondary including Quartz Hill transfer Conner Byrnes and sophomore Nick Moore.

“(The coaches) have definitely given me a lot more freedom this year to take charge of the defense,” Fall said. “It’s a lot to take care of since there are a lot of new bodies. But I’ve played with Conner (Byrnes) before so there’s a little chemistry there that makes it a little easier.”

With so many teams using the spread as their base offense, the defensive secondary has become even more important.

And with players like Canyon’s Liam Cabrera, Saugus’ Marc Langford and Valencia’s Jay Jay Wilson all returning on the offensive side of the ball, the Foothill League’s offenses will be tough to stop.

“There’s a lot of pressure on us to stop these great athletes,” Fall said. “But we’re putting things in place, and last year’s juniors are filling in great. I think we’ll be alright.”

Every league game is important, but there are certain games that always stick out.

For Fall, it isn’t hard to guess which teams he has circled.

“It’s definitely Valencia and Canyon,” he said. “We’ve been beaten by them in league play the past two years, and it’s time to win one. Valencia is still strong and Canyon has both the Cabrera twins back. They’ll both be really solid teams, and we’ll just have to come out ready to play.”


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