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HART-VALENCIA ONE TO REMEMBER INDIANS' GET A KICK OUT OF BEATING VIKINGS.

Byline: Gerry Gittelson Staff Writer

VALENCIA - After a week filled with more pregame pageantry than anyone has ever seen for a Foothill League regular-season football game, how refreshing it was to see the highly anticipated showdown between Hart and Valencia actually live up to the hype on Friday.

In a matchup filled with twists and turns in front of a sellout of more than 5,500, Hart's 17-14 victory wasn't secure until the final minute, and Hart fans poured onto the field in a massive red-and-black celebration immediately after the final whistle.

``This was the game of my life,'' said Paul Weinstein, who kicked a game-winning 45-yard field goal with just over four minutes remaining. ``But it wasn't about me. It's about the whole team. I was just there to finish it. I love Hart football.''

A few minutes earlier, Weinstein had missed a 36-yarder, so his heart must have been beating out of his chest as he lined up for the potential game-winner.

``I was a little nervous,'' Weinstein said.

At the time, Weinstein had converted just 4 of 10 field goals this season - a few of the misses, admittedly, because of bad snaps or holds - in what has amounted to an up-and-down senior year for a kicker many consider the league's best.

``After he missed that first one, we knew he had to be tough and come back, and he made it look easy,'' said quarterback Tyler Lyon, as Queen's ``Another One Bites The Dust'' blared in the background. ``You say he was nervous? Well, anyone would be in that situation.''

The snap was perfect, the hold was clean, and Weinstein's kicked sailed beautifully, crossing midway through the uprights with plenty of room to spare.

``Actually, I never saw it go through because I got hit once I kicked it,'' Weinstein said.

As he lay on the turf, the roar of the crowd left no doubt, and the echoes of cheers and applause undoubtedly is still ringing through his head.

The bleachers were filled well before the 7 p.m. kickoff as fans on both sides crammed in for an epic rematch, as Valencia had defeated Hart 29-10 a year earlier to snap Hart's 65-game league winning streak.

Among Hart's most loyal supporters was junior Bill Caprine, a member of Hart's track team. Caprine painted his face red and black and wore a custom suede Indian suit.

``I just love our team, and I'm out here to show them by being one of the leaders of the crowd,'' Caprine said. ``You always have to encourage the team.''

Underneath the Indian suit, Caprine wore a self-made T-shirt that depicted an Indian killing a Viking. He made seven of the shirts and handed the others out to his friends.

``Some of the players like my get-up, and others think I'm a little goofy,'' Caprine said.

There were a few glitches beforehand. A fire alarm accidentally rang - which proved especially loud and annoying in the press box - and wasn't turned off for about 45 minutes, finally stopping toward the end of the first quarter. And a fight nearly broke out in the press box after someone from Valencia turned up the P.A. music to drown out a Hart cheer that Valencia's announcer deemed inappropriate.

However, there were no problems with crowd control thanks to heavy security.

``Everything is running smoothly. It's a good crowd, and everything looks good,'' Valencia principal Paul Priesz said a few minutes after the kickoff.

Priesz said the fire alarm was not a prank but was instead caused by too much shower steam in Hart's locker room, triggering a heat sensor.

There were also some problems with parking, as Valencia never had accommodated such a large crowd. Some latecomers had to park at the Wal-Mart parking lot, which is quite a trek.

But as things turned out, the long walk was certainly worth it. This was a game for the ages that won't soon be forgotten.

Gerry Gittelson, (661) 257-5218

gerry.gittelson(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Hart's Delano Hall runs away from two Valencia defenders to score a touchdown in the second quarter on Friday night in the Indians' victory.

Alex Collins/Special to the Daily News

(2) Hart's Robbie Casselberry holds up the ball after making a first down in the first quarter against Valencia.

David Crane/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 30, 2005
Words:730
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