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With some emphasis: Valencia football tops Hart

Valencia takes sole possession of first place in the Foothill League by dominating Hart

Posted: October 31, 2009 12:10 a.m.
Updated: October 31, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Valencia High quarterback Alex Bishop (3) outruns Hart defender Justyn Eddins during the third quarter Friday night at College of the Canyons.

 
No one had to tell Valencia or Hart to get fired up.

As the two frontrunners for the 2009 Foothill League title, many people saw the matchup as a potential title bout.

It was the Vikings that answered the bell - early and often.

Thanks to a swarming defense and five total touchdowns from running back Steven Manfro, Valencia took the inside track to the program's second Foothill League title with a decisive 56-7 win over Hart on Friday at Cougar Stadium.

But Vikings head coach Larry Muir wouldn't claim the crown just yet.

"It's one week at a time," he said. "I guess it's cliche, but it has truly been for us a focus and our kids have done a good job of it, day-by-day focus, week-by-week focus. Their preparation has been excellent. And I think (the win) is because of that preparation, that they have reaped the rewards of it so far."

Valencia (8-0, 3-0) certainly looked focused from the opening kickoff, jumping out to a 21-0 lead by the 6:09 mark in the first quarter behind two touchdown passes from quarterback Alex Bishop and a rushing touchdown by Manfro.

First, Bishop rolled left then back right and found Matt Nyberg from 8 yards out. On the next drive, on third-and-15, Bishop threw a short pass to Manfro, who went 41 yards up the sideline and into the end zone.

Manfro followed the drive up with a 19-yard touchdown rush to build the early cushion.

The junior added an 18-yard score up the middle midway through the second quarter to push the advantage to 28-0.

According to Manfro, the key to his success was simple.

"Well, our offensive line, definitely," Manfro said. "Our O-line just making their blocks. Without the O-line, we couldn't do anything."

Manfro finished with 79 yards and four touchdowns on 11 carries, while catching three passes for 54 yards and one score.

But it was Bishop's precision passing that keyed the early lead and kept Hart (5-3, 2-1) guessing.

The junior, who added a 54-yard touchdown run to build a 35-0 advantage at halftime, completed his first six passes on the night and finished 17-of-23 for 227 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed 12 times for 77 yards.

Bishop was consistently given plenty of time to read the defense and find the open receiver.

"(Valencia) came out prepared," said Hart head coach Mike Herrington. "I think coach Muir said it in the paper, in the preview, that it would be determined up front, and boy did their offensive and defensive line dominate us. When you have a combination of speed, size, talent and great coaching, you know it's tough to beat."

After an 8-yard touchdown run by Manfro early in the third, Hart quarterback C.J. Reyes found wide receiver Da'Jon Hairston for a 53-yard strike, getting Hart on the board at 42-7.

Reyes was unable to find a rhythm for much of the game, finishing 14-of-31 for 177 yards and three interceptions.

The senior signal-caller was also sacked eight times, feeling constant pressure from Vikings seniors Darrol Mitchell, Kevin Rush and Ryan Wermich.

"We just didn't let up," said Wermich, who also deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage and forced a fumble on a fake punt. "We didn't get comfortable with our game. We knew they were going to come out and give us their best, so we just came out fired up."

The Vikings would tack on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Bishop to wide receiver Max Rodriguez late the third quarter and a 1-yard rush from Manfro midway through the fourth to close out the scoring.

Senior Brock Vereen finished with five receptions for 54 yards, while Rodriguez had three catches for 65 yards.

Meanwhile, Hart running back Jake Stephens was held to 22 yards on 12 carries but also caught four passes for 42 yards for the Indians, who must regroup next week against West Ranch.

"We'll move on," Herrington said. "We'll gather it back up and get after it."


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