If you've pondered Darren Renfro's whereabouts the past few weeks, put away the milk cartons and call off the bloodhounds.
Hart High's senior quarterback resurfaced Saturday night at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach. The 5-10 left-hander threw for 257 yards and three touchdowns to lead Hart over St. Anthony, 41-14, in a Northwestern Conference quarterfinal game.
The Indians, who play Arroyo Grande on Friday at College of the Canyons, moved within two victories of successfully defending their conference title. Hart is 11-1. St. Anthony, co-champion in the Camino Real League, finished at 9-3.
Renfro, the leading passer in the Valley area with 2,413 yards before Saturday's game, had failed to throw for 200 yards in three consecutive games.
All that changed against the Saints, who couldn't keep a handle on Renfro or receivers Joe DeSchryver, Brian Allen and Craig Whitten.
DeSchryver had 7 receptions for 87 yards, Allen had 3 for 56 and Whitten 5 for 50.
"They jammed the line of scrimmage and put a lot of pressure on our wide receivers and blitzed a lot," Hart Coach Rick Scott said. "Darren did a good job of avoiding the rush. It's nice to see him get over 200 yards again."
And while Hart's passing game showed signs of returning to its explosive ways, the Indians' normally tepid running attack also prospered to a degree.
Sophomore Howard Blackwell, brought up from the junior varsity to replace the injured Elliott Graeber, gained 39 yards; Scott Renfro, also a sophomore, gained 51 yards, all in the second half; and Whitten had 41 yards. In Hart's previous playoff game against Redondo, the Indians managed just 38 yards rushing. Saturday they had 426 yards in total offense.
Hart scored three touchdowns in the second half, and the defense did the rest. Allen sacked St. Anthony quarterback Dan O'Shea three times in the final 24 minutes to disrupt the Saints' passing attack, and Hart's defensive line stuffed the running game.
St. Anthony's Quentin Givens, who rushed for 700 yards in the regular season, was held to 31 yards. The rest of the Saints were held to minus-13.
Hart's second-half touchdowns, in order, came on a 64-yard pass from Renfro to Kevin Keogh, a 17-yard run by Scott Renfro, and a two-yard sneak by Darren Renfro.
Hart led, 21-14, at halftime on a one-yard dive by Whitten and two touchdown passes by Renfro--a seven-yarder to Allen and a nine-yarder to DeSchryver.
The Indians scored first, driving 54 yards on their initial possession.
On third and goal from the seven-yard line, Renfro's pass glanced off the fingertips of St. Anthony defensive back Dan O'Shea in the end zone where Allen grabbed it. Jim Harper's kick gave Hart a 7-0 lead.
St. Anthony then drove 87 yards for a score, aided by a roughing-the-kicker penalty. O'Shea passed to Alan Aragon for the final 12 yards with 4:38 left in the first quarter. The extra point was wide left.
Hart's next drive stalled at midfield, but Harper's punt was fumbled by John Jasso after Tracy Sanders' jarring tackle, Keith Moring recovering for Hart on St. Anthony's nine. Whitten scored three plays later, and Renfro ran for the two-point conversion to give the Indians a 15-6 lead.
Hart increased its lead to 21-6 on Renfro's nine-yard pass to DeSchryver with 1:54 remaining in the half. The 72-yard drive was aided by a 32-yard pass on fourth and 12 from the Indians' 39 out of punt formation.