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Indians looking to maintain

Hueneme (7-3) at HART (7-3) 7:30 p.m.

Posted: November 19, 2009 9:21 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2009 4:30 a.m.
Last season was the first year under Hart head football coach Mike Herrington that the Indians failed to make it out of the first round of CIF-Southern Section division playoffs.

This season, Hart looks to make the occurrence an anomaly.

The Indians will host Hueneme of Oxnard in the first round of the CIF-SS Northern Division playoffs at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Cougar Stadium.

But Hart (7-3) is not getting caught up in the historical significance.

“We talk about focusing on the first round and then the next round and just take steps,” said Herrington, who’s in his 21st season with the Indians. “We have to play our best ball at this point in the season. That’s all we’ve talked about and the guys seem real focused and they’re ready to roll. They want to keep on playing.”

This week, the focus is on Hueneme (7-3), which comes into the contest fresh off a turnaround season and as the No. 2 seed out of the Pacific View League.

In the first week of the season, Hueneme caught the Foothill League off guard with a 10-8 win over West Ranch.

Vikings faithful were ecstatic as the win broke a 10-game losing streak, and a string in which the program lost 15 of its previous 16 games dating back to Oct. 5, 2007.

So what’s the difference this year?

“There are really a lot of pieces to that answer, chief among those is the ability of the players to stay committed,” said Vikings head coach Joe Martinez. “We had a bunch of kids who worked hard and felt capable of competing with a lot of football teams this year.”

In fact, Hueneme started the 2009 season 4-0 before suffering back-to-back losses to Atascadero and Rio Mesa on Oct. 2 and 16, respectively.

“They have some really good athletes,” Herrington said. “They do have a lot of guys going both ways. They have a lot better speed than we do. We’re going to have to defend that speed. They throw the ball exceptionally well.”

Vikings quarterback Jonathan Barnfather is 143-of-269 for 1,984 yards, 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

“I would make the statement that he’s kind of been the workhorse of our team,” Martinez said. “He’s the guy everyone knows we’re going to depend on.”

Barnfather will be aided by the rushing prowess of Trashaun Nixon, who doubles as the team’s leading tackler.

The running back/linebacker has carried the ball 116 times for 986 yards and seven touchdowns and caught 15 passes for 157 yards and four scores. Defensively, he has 75 total tackles, five sacks, two fumble recoveries and one interception.

The Indians will try to counter with their own quarterback/running back combination.

On the season, senior signal-caller C.J. Reyes is 133-of-233 for 2,190 yards, 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, while leading rusher Jake Stephens has carried the ball 164 times for 839 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Defensively, Herrington is not looking to make any systematic changes.

Instead, he’ll need the consistency from leaders like wide receivers/defensive backs Ty MacArthur, Blake Borland and Da’Jon Hairston, defensive end Justyn Eddins, and linebackers John Cornelius, Christian Blumel and Hayden Scott, who all play integral roles for Hart.

“We’re not a very big blitzing team,” Herrington said. “We don’t do that very often. We’re not real good at man coverage. If you’re blitzing, you have to do man coverage. We just have to do what’s got us here. We have to wait and see what they try to do against us.

Then we have to make adjustments and take advantage of any holes in their defense.”

Signal staff writers Cary Osborne and Joey Gulino contributed to this report.


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