TURKEY DAY TRADITION HART SPENDS THANKSGIVING PREPPING FOR PLAYOFF CONTEST.Byline: Gerry Gittelson Staff Writer
NEWHALL - It was Thursday morning and Hart High's football team was busy practicing - so it must be Thanksgiving.
Football practice has been a part of turkey day every season since coach Mike Herrington arrived 17 years ago, and the tradition remains a respectable symbol of success because if a high school team is still around, that means it's still alive in the playoffs.
The Indians (9-2) play host to Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga Rancho Cucamonga (răn`chō k'kəmäng`gə), city (1990 pop. 101,409), San Bernardino co., S Calif. (9-2) in the Southern Section Div. II quarterfinals tonight at 7:30 at College of the Canyons College of the Canyons is one of the fastest-growing community colleges in the state. According to the National Junior College Research Association, College of the Canyons consistently ranks in the top 50 community colleges in the nation. , and Thursday's Thanksgiving workout was Hart's final preparation.
``It's cool. This is a fun tradition,'' lineman Joe Joo said. We've always had practice on Thanksgiving at Hart, so we're not about to stop now.''
Longtime Hart supporters, former players and their families always stop by in what has grown into a special reunion day.
``This brings back a lot of good memories,'' said Cameron Smyth Cameron Smyth is a Republican who has represented Califoria's 38th Assembly district since December of 2006. He succeeded Keith Richman who was term limited.
Prior to being elected to the state legislature, Assemblyman Smyth served on the Santa Clarita City Council, where he , an All-Foothill League receiver at Hart in 1988 who's now "Who's Now" was a daily series aired during SportsCenter throughout July 2007, in which viewers helped ESPN determine the ultimate sports star by considering both on-field success and off-field buzz. the mayor of Santa Clarita Santa Clarita, city (1990 pop. 110,642), Los Angeles co., S Calif., suburb 30 mi (48 km) NW of downtown Los Angeles, on the Santa Clara River; inc. 1987. Situated in the Santa Clara valley and nearby canyons, Santa Clarita includes the former towns of Canyon Country, . ``I've been coming here on and off every year or so.''
Former lineman Dylan Poole, a freshman engineering student on break from Ohio State, was happy to make a visit.
``One of Hart's Thanksgiving traditions is for the young linemen to buy everyone doughnuts, and I can remember there were only four of us when I was a sophomore, so I bought four cases of doughnuts,'' Poole said. ``It definitely brings back a lot of memories when I first got here. I think by practicing every year at Thanksgiving, it becomes a pride factor.''
After barely surviving a 32-27 first-round victory over Glendora that came down to the final minute last week, Herrington is counting his blessings more passionately than usual.
``We're just happy to still be here because it almost didn't happen this year,'' Herrington said. We like it, and the parents like coming. It's a good group of parents.''
League mates Valencia (8-3) and Canyon (10-1) are also alive in the playoffs. Valencia, which plays host to Chino Chino (chē`nō), city (1990 pop. 59,682), San Bernardino co., S Calif.; founded 1887, inc. 1910. It is the business and processing center of a diversified farming (notably dairying) area. Hills (11-0) tonight, practiced Thursday morning. Canyon, which plays at San Clemente San Clemente (săn klĭmĕn`tē), city (1990 pop. 41,100), Orange co., S Calif., on the Pacific coast; inc. 1928. Camp Pendleton, a large U.S. marine base, adjoins the city, which is chiefly residential. (7-4) tonight, took the day off in favor of an early workout beginning at 10 a.m. today.
``I think practicing on Thanksgiving is a good idea because it lets us go through our normal preparation for the week, and that's probably the best plan,'' Valencia defensive lineman T.J. May said. ``It's definitely exciting going deep into the playoffs, I think Thanksgiving practice gives us a sense of family because we're all out practicing in the morning together.''
While Canyon's players had a break, coach Harry Welch did not. He spent about 10 hours Thursday analyzing video and preparing a game plan.
Herrington also has an extra responsibility every Thanksgiving. He never forgets to warn his players not to overindulge o·ver·in·dulge
v. o·ver·in·dulged, o·ver·in·dulg·ing, o·ver·in·dulg·es
1. To indulge (a desire, craving, or habit) to excess: overindulging a fondness for chocolate. at the dinner table because 11 years ago one of his starting defensive linemen got sick during a playoff game Noun 1. playoff game - one game in the series of games constituting a playoff
game - a single play of a sport or other contest; "the game lasted two hours"
playoff - any final competition to determine a championship after eating too much turkey.
``I always tell them at the end of practice not to be glutton glutton: see wolverine. . You don't want to do that,'' Herrington said.
Gerry Gittelson, (661) 257-5218
(1 -- 2 -- color) The Hart football team takes the field on Thanksgiving to practice for tonight's playoff game against Los Osos. Below, former Santa Clarita mayor Clyde Smyth and current mayor Cameron Smyth - Clyde's son - watches practice.
(3 -- color) Hart football players study a play Thursday morning in preparation for tonight's playoff game.
Tom Mendoza/Staff Photographer