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CIF football playoffs: Hart brings the hammer

Indians look like team from earlier in season

Posted: November 10, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: November 10, 2012 1:55 a.m.

ARROYO GRANDE — Hart sure woke up in a hurry.

After back-to-back losses to Valencia and Canyon saw the Indians drop to third in the Foothill League and draw a matchup with defending CIF-Southern Section Western Division champion Arroyo Grande, Hart’s offense resembled the team that stood atop the CIF-SS Northern Division poll for much of the season.

The Indians won 48-6 on Friday night at Arroyo Grande High School in the first round of the CIF-SS Northern Division playoffs.

The Eagles (8-3), who moved up to the Northern Division this year, could never get their offense going after starting quarterback Matt Willkomm was unable to play.

Willkomm left the Eagles’ last game, a Nov. 2 victory over San Luis Obispo, with an injury.

Without their dynamic signal caller, the Eagles slowly watched as Hart quarterback Brady White picked apart the defense with precision.

White finished with 351 yards passing on 19-of-30 attempts and two touchdowns, before leaving midway through the third quarter.

“We definitely fixed our mistakes and came into the playoffs knowing it’s one and done,” White said.

Running back Connor Wingenroth was equally potent, rushing for 90 yards and picking up another 76 through the air, while accounting for four touchdowns by four different means.

Wingenroth opened the scoring with a 76-yard touchdown reception on a bubble screen after going in motion out of the backfield on the Indians’ second possession. He added a 30-yard rushing score untouched up the middle on the next possession to put Hart (8-3) ahead 13-0.

“That was our main goal,” said Hart head coach Mike Herrington of getting ahead early. “Even though we didn’t score the first series, we felt we had momentum.”

Midway through the third, Wingenroth returned a punt 65 yards for a score to give the Indians a 41-6 lead, and threw a 24-yard touchdown to sophomore Trent Irwin in the first half.

The Indians defense, which lowered its average to just 12.2 points per game, dominated the Eagles' undersized line and continually put pressure on Gutierez throughout the night.

Arroyo Grande failed to secure a first down in the first quarter, and picked up just three in the first half as Hart shut them out from scrimmage, allowing only a special teams touchdown in the contest.

Hart, which was ranked No. 1 in the CIF-SS Northern Division as recently as week eight, used a heavy dose of screen passes early.

Many of those attempts went to Irwin, who caught seven passes for 85 yards, including the 24-yard touchdown to make it 20-6 Hart midway through the second quarter.

Fellow wide receiver Andrew McArthur also shined, catching six passes for 107 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown.

Eagles quarterback Mikey Gutierez did his best to replace the potent Willkomm, throwing for 126 yards on 9-of-18 attempts.

Wide receiver Elijah Holt returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter to pull Arroyo Grande within 13-6, but also lost a fumble on the next return, which Hart quickly cashed in to go ahead 27-6.

Running back Travis Rehard came off the bench in the fourth to add the final touchdown on a 2-yard plunge and finished with 51 yards on eight carries.

“We moved the ball pretty easily. We stopped ourselves when we did get stopped,” Herrington said.

Now, Hart turns its attention to the second round, where it will host Palos Verdes next Friday. The Sea Kings beat Antelope Valley 49-13 on Friday.


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