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Hart streak will be tested

The Indians have reached second round 19 straight seasons

Posted: November 20, 2008 10:51 p.m.
Updated: November 21, 2008 4:52 a.m.
 

In each of his previous 19 seasons, Mike Herrington has led the Indians past the first round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.

The last time the Indians failed to make it out of the first round was 1988, the year before Herrington took the helm.

But this Hart team faces one of the stiffest challenges to get out of the first round in 20 years.

The Indians (5-5) go far on the road to face Atascadero of the Pac-7 League in the first round of CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

The Greyhounds finished atop the Pac-7 League and were 8-2 overall and 5-0 in league.

The team's losses this season came to top ranked St. Bonaventure and Gilroy High.

"They're a hard-nosed football team and they know how to run the ball well," Herrington said. "They're a very physical football team."

This season Atascadero returned eight starters, including running back Nick Tenhaeff, who has rushed for 1,653 yards on 221 carries this season.

Greyhounds head coach Vic Cooper said despite what the Indians' record reflects, his team can not afford to take them lightly.

"We have to be at the top of our game," Cooper said. "They're still the Indians and we have to battle that tradition. They have a great coaching staff and they are going to have a game plan to beat us. We will have to be at our best."

Cooper, in his fifth season with Atascadero, has led his team to the playoffs the last four seasons.

In 2007, the Greyhounds got as far as the quarterfinals where they were defeated by Saugus 34-6.

First-year starting quarterback Bradley Smet will lead the Greyhounds' offense. Smet is 70-of-134 for 1,072 yards.

"He's done a great job at putting the ball in good spots and managing the game for us," Cooper said of Smet.

But the senior has been mistake prone - tossing nine interceptions to six touchdowns.

The majority of the Greyhounds' offense, though, is focused on the running game.

"It doesn't hurt that we have a pretty good tailback," Cooper said of Tenhaeff.

And Tenhaeff has the ability to get things done on both sides of the ball. Cooper said Tenhaeff has verbally committed to San Diego State as a linebacker.

"He just gets it done," Cooper said. "He's a blue collar kind of tailback."

Cooper said his game plan for a victory will be the same.

"Our general tradition is to run the ball and play solid defense," he said. "Our goal is to grind the clock and slow the game down. We'll try to be a little more balanced and just do what we do well."

The Indians have had a tremendous turnaround since the early part of the season.

Behind playmakers, quarterback Spenser Souza and running back Demitri Diamond, the Indians have gotten better as the year has gone on.

Herrington said he will look to these same playmakers to get things done for the Indians.

"We have to be consistent on offense and the move the ball," Herrington said. "We have to keep (Atascadero) from having long drives because they are good at that."

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