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A WHOLE LOT OF HISTORY IN HART-VALENCIA RIVALRY.

Byline: Gerry Gittelson Staff Writer

VALENCIA - The most anticipated high school sports event of the year in the Santa Clarita Valley has arrived.

The rematch between high-powered football rivals Hart and Valencia is tonight at 7 at Valencia High, and a sellout crowd of more than 5,500 can expect an epic showdown, as Hart (6-1 overall, 2-0 Foothill) tries to reclaim its Foothill League glory after falling to Valencia (6-1, 2-0) for the first time in series history last year.

Valencia's 29-10 victory over Hart a year and a day ago at College of the Canyons snapped the Indians' 65-game league winning streak. Hart never recovered, failing to finish among the league's top two for the first time in coach Mike Herrington's 16-year tenure, eventually falling in the second round of the Southern Section Div. II playoffs.

Valencia rode the momentum of that milestone victory through the playoffs before losing to Mission Viejo in the championship game at Angel Stadium.

It's a new year, but for Hart the stench of that loss remains. And the pivotal figures for both teams - highly touted quarterbacks Tyler Lyon of Hart and Michael Herrick of Valencia - are back, so there is no sense in downplaying the Indians' hunger for revenge.

Presale tickets have gobbled up all available seats, and 650 standing-room only tickets are scheduled to be released 30 minutes before kickoff. The game will be broadcast at 1220-AM and on the Internet, at valenciavikingfootball.com and hartdistrict.org/hart/home.htm.

Hart leads the series 10-1. A rundown:

--2004 - Valencia 29, Hart 10: Valencia sacked Tyler Lyon nine times and held Hart to 62 yards, snapping the Indians' 65-game league winning streak in front of about 9,000 at Canyons. Vikings fans swarmed the field to celebrate after the final whistle.

``We nailed (Lyon) pretty hard,'' said Valencia linebacker Anthony Defilippo, who had four sacks. ``I think we (put) too much pressure on him.''

--2003 - Hart 42, Valencia 35: Kevin Ciccone's end-zone interception in the waning seconds preserved Hart's 42-25 victory after the Indians rallied from a 21-point deficit at Canyons to clinch their 13th consecutive league title. Valencia sophomore Michael Herrick passed for 374 yards - 224, with two TDs, in the first quarter.

--2002 - Hart 39, Valencia 15: Hart broke open a close game with four touchdowns in a 14-minute span, and Sean Norton passed for a then-career-best 368 yards and two TDs.

``I just don't know what happened,'' Valencia defensive back Brandon Nichols said.

--2001 - Hart 42, Valencia 13: Matt Moore completed 14 of 18 passes for 277 yards and four touchdowns, and he ran for a 49-yard touchdown as Hart won its fourth consecutive Div. III title in front of 9,000 at Canyons.

--2001 - Hart 26, Valencia 0: Hart claimed its 50th consecutive Foothill League victory by holding Valencia to 192 yards. Moore completed 22 of 36 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown.

--2000 - Hart 21, Valencia 7: Hart's Kyle Matter completed 22 of 34 passes for 289 yards and two TDs and ran for a score. Valencia managed just 202 yards, 37 in the first half. Hart's first touchdown came on a 7-yard pass to Peter Dubsky, who ran over Will Broadous near the goal line.

--1999 - Hart 34, Valencia 6: Hart capped an undefeated season and won the Div. III championship, holding Vikings running back Manuel White, the region's all-time rushing-yardage leader, to 65 yards in front of more than 9,000 at Canyons.

``Valencia's a great team,'' said Hart's Kyle Matter, who passed for 166 yards and two TDs. ``We just came out and showed them we're a better team.''

--1999 - Hart 42, Valencia 21: Matter passed for 221 yards and three long touchdowns, and Hart held White to 90 yards on 22 carries at Canyons.

``This was the biggest game I've ever played in,'' Matter said. ``They thought they'd beat us, but we took it to them.''

Valencia's Kyle Bauer, who passed for 112 yards, was held to zero in the second half.

--1998 - Hart 38, Valencia 14: Hart's Kyle Boller completed 16 of 26 passes for 265 yards, including a long touchdown pass to Jerry Owens on fourth-and-22 to give the Indians a 17-point halftime lead at Canyons.

--1997 - Hart 45, Valencia 23: David Neill passed for 324 yards and four touchdowns, three to Owens, and Hart took advantage of four turnovers at Canyons.

--1996 - Hart 37, Valencia 7: Quarterback Travis Carroll and receiver Cody Joyce had huge performances for the Indians, and Valencia's top running back, Donovan Calhoun, was held to zero yards on 11 carries at Canyons. Carroll passed for 263 yards and two TDs, and Joyce made 10 receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown.

Gerry Gittelson, (661) 257-5218

gerry.gittelson(at)dailynews.com

GAME OF THE WEEK

HART (6-1) at VALENCIA (6-1), 7 p.m.

Player to watch: Jackson Smith, OL, Hart. Hart surrendered eight sacks in a 29-10 loss to Valencia last year, and it's Smith's job to help make sure such inefficient blocking doesn't happen again.

Outlook: In an anticipated showdown that will all but decide the Foothill League championship, Hart seeks to reaffirm its dominance after last year's loss ended a 65-game league winning streak through 13 seasons.

Both teams still need to play Canyon, but this is the game everyone has been waiting for. Both teams rely on a wide-open passing offense. Valencia's Michael Herrick (2,023 yards, 10 TDs) is closing in on California's career yardage record. Hart's Tyler Lyon (844 yards, 7 TDs in four-plus games) has been hampered by injuries but is coming off his best performance of the season - 17 of 23, 261 yards, five TDs vs. Burroughs of Burbank - and is among the nation's top recruits.

Valencia also features dominant RB Shane Vereen. He's rushed for 1,000 yards, caught 33 passes for 514 yards and scored 17 TDs. Hart counters with sophomore Delano Howell (440 yards, seven TDs), who has rushed for more than 100 yards the past two games.

Valencia's key defensive players are LBs Travis Marziani, Travis Quesada and Keith Klemens, and DBs Vereen, Chris Koshak, M.J. Robotham and Rickie Crouch. Hart's top hitters are LBs Patrick Sarkissian, Chris Hickok and Griffin Cannon, DL Wilfred Aka, and DBs Adam Reyes, Brandon Arndt, Anthony Luna and James Wheeler.

Both teams have excellent PKs who usually reach the end zone on kickoffs. Valencia's Ricky Drake and Hart's Paul Weinstein have four FGs, and Weinstein averages 35.8 yards on punts.

The game is expected to sell out. It's being broadcast on 1220-AM in Santa Clarita and on the Web at valenciavikingfootball.com.

THIS WEEKEND'S GAMES (Friday unless noted)

SAUGUS (2-5) vs. BURBANK (3-4) at Burroughs of Burbank HS, 7 p.m.

Player to watch: Jason McNeil, WR, Burbank. McNeil does a little of everything. He has 34 receptions (15 against Canyon two weeks ago) for 533 yards and four TDs, and he's rushed for 292 yards on 21 carries - an average of 13.9 yards - and two TDs. He also starts at DB and returns kicks.

Outlook: Saugus, in its third rebuilding season since coach Jason Bornn took over, is running out of excuses. After two easy victories over cupcake opponents, the senior-heavy Centurions have lost five in a row, including an embarrassing 55-7 homecoming loss last week to Canyon.

Despite the presence of experienced senior QB Zach Summers, a group of proven RBs, dependable WR Casey Stevenson (28 receptions, three TDs) and a line that Bornn has touted as the team's strength, Saugus has managed just three TDs the past four games.

Last week, Saugus' defense allowed 419 yards through three quarters, including five TDs of 34 yards or longer, before Canyon called off the dogs.

Burbank is no pushover, despite the absence of starting QB Jason Barbic (thumb), who has missed four games. Replacement Robert Linda has thrown just one TD pass - Burbank has relied heavily on RB Marcus Hood (766 yards, eight TDs).

After getting mashed by Canyon and Valencia the past two weeks, Burbank is hungry for a victory. Saugus cannot lose and expect to make the playoffs.

BURROUGHS of Burbank (4-3) at CANYON (6-1), 7 p.m.

Player to watch: Josh Balderas, LB, Burroughs. Balderas has the difficult task of trying to contain Canyon RB J.J. DiLuigi, who scored six TDs last week and is among California's most productive offensive players. Balderas leads Burroughs with 68 tackles, with a season-best 14 against Valencia two weeks ago.

Outlook: Expect another easy victory for Canyon, which is coming off a 55-7 romp over Saugus and faces its toughest league opponents - Valencia and Hart - in the final two weeks of the season.

DiLuigi, a junior, is off to an incredible start. He has rushed for 956 yards, caught 10 passes for 261 yards and scored 26 TDs. He's also averaging 43.5 yards on eight kickoff returns.

Canyon is further bolstered by the return of WR/DB Richie Wirthlin, who missed three games with a broken hand. He scored on 42-yard TD pass and had an INT last week. In three-plus games, Wirthlin has 14 receptions for 319 yards, four TDs and three INTs.

Canyon's Austin Civita has passed for 1,179 yards and 10 TDs. Chris Kingsbury has 21 receptions for 440 yards and three TDs, and he's averaging 18.2 yards on punt returns.

Burroughs' Thomas Kyle is among the league's top players. He has rushed for 825 yards, caught 15 passes for 280 yards and scored nine TDs. A returning all-league DB, Kyle has two INTs, 36 tackles and a fumble recovery, and he's averaging 19.7 yards on kickoff returns.

GOLDEN VALLEY (0-7) vs. SALESIAN of Los Angeles (4-3), Saturday, 7 p.m., at Canyon HS

Outlook: Golden Valley, a seniorless program in its first varsity season, has taken its lumps but might have a decent chance to win here. Div. XII Salesian's record is misleading: Its four victories have come against opponents with a 2-24 combined record.

Golden Valley's Martel Hammond has 31 receptions for 354 yards. Corey Bryant, a converted punter, makes his debut at QB.

SANTA CLARITA CHRISTIAN (4-2) vs. HILLCREST CHRISTIAN of Granada Hills (3-4), Saturday 7 p.m., at Valencia HS

Outlook: Eight-man competitor Santa Clarita Christian relies heavily on QB Jared Dennis, who has passed for 922 yards, rushed for 878 and accounted for 29 TDs. The strength of the defense is the DL, led by John Grayem (51 tackles, three sacks), Micah Thorsell (40 tackles) and Brian Virga (43 tackles, seven sacks).

CAPTION(S):

2 photos, 4 boxes

Photo:

(1 -- 2) Hart's Tyler Lyon (left) and Valencia's Michael Herrick are the Santa Clarita Valley's most outstanding quarterbacks.

Kirby Lee/Special to the Daily News

Alex Collins/Special to the Daily News

Box:

(1) GAME OF THE WEEK (see text)

(2) THIS WEEKEND'S GAMES (see text)

(3) FIRST AND 10

(4) INSIDE THE NUMBERS
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 28, 2005
Words:1820
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