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Kicking and screaming: Hart shores up special teams

Indians hope to move past last week's performance entering game against Ventura

Posted: September 28, 2016 10:22 p.m.
Updated: September 28, 2016 10:22 p.m.
Hart quarterback Nick Moore gets by the St. Bonaventure defense for a first down at the last Friday at College of the Canyons. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea for the Signal. Hart quarterback Nick Moore gets by the St. Bonaventure defense for a first down at the last Friday at College of the Canyons. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea for the Signal.
Hart quarterback Nick Moore gets by the St. Bonaventure defense for a first down at the last Friday at College of the Canyons. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea for the Signal.
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In case you were wondering, Hart High was made aware of its poor special teams play last week.

“After getting a good chewing out for mental errors and not playing smart and doing things on their own instead of following coaches’ instructions,” said coach Mike Herrington, “I think they realized they could have been right there and won that game.”

Two missed extra point attempts, a missed field goal and two penalties for making contact with St. Bonaventure’s punter contributed to a 38-32 loss at College of the Canyons on Friday.

So the Indians (3-1) have worked in practice to fix the mental miscues and perfect the kicking game with a road contest looming Friday night against Ventura (4-1), ranked No. 6 in the latest CIF-Southern Section Division 5 poll.

“We hadn’t had that problem the first three games,” Herrington said of special teams. “Then it happened.”

The hope is it won’t happen again.

The Indians also hope to slow down Ventura’s running game.

Cougars running back Broc Mortensen ran for 178 yards and three touchdowns in the teams’ meeting last season. Hart made a late defensive stand to win the game, 29-21, but Herrington said the Indians have to contain the 6-foot, 175-pound back better this time around.

“He was able to cut back some big runs against us and a long touchdown run,” Herrington said of Mortensen, now a senior. “We have to make sure we don’t give up the big play like we did last year.”

On the flip side, Hart wants to continue making big plays, while limiting turnovers.

The Indians racked up 437 yards of offense against St. Bonaventure, with quarterback Nick Moore throwing for four touchdowns and 236 yards (and three interceptions).

Receiver Daniel Madison caught nine passes for 100 yards and two scores.

Touchdowns, however, didn’t come as easily last year against Ventura when the Indians failed to finish drives.

“We missed a field goal. We made a field goal,” Herrington said. “... We need to finish drives.”

As far as familiar opponents, the Cougars beat Rio Mesa of Oxnard earlier this year, 35-21. Rio Mesa narrowly knocked off Golden Valley on Friday.

Ventura, more recently, lost to Saugus, 17-14, despite two fourth quarter touchdowns.

Herrington knows the Cougars will provide a challenge.

“They play good defense,” he said. “They have a balanced offense. They run the ball well. Their quarterback is a good athlete who can scramble and throw the ball.”

In the end, though, the outcome may depend more on what the Indians do or — when it comes to punt returns — don’t do.

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