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Successful Hart Still Carrying On Without Facilities

September 13, 1996

The Hart High football team has been living like a band of vagabonds since the Northridge earthquake destroyed almost all of the school's athletic facilities 2 1/2 years ago.

In that time, the Indians have gone 25-3, winning the 1995 Southern Section Division II title, without the use of lockers or an on-campus weight room. The players have had pre-practice tapings in places as odd as the baseball press box. Team meetings are held in empty classrooms, but at least the practice field is no longer a launderer's nightmare.

"The kids would come dressed in their uniforms and put their street clothes underneath a tree next to the practice field--tennis shoes and bags all over the place," Coach Mike Herrington said.

The practice routine is not much easier now. The Indians have been denied access to the new air-conditioned locker room on campus because of a snafu in construction.

"It's been tough," said tackle Mike Wambolt, who has endured hard times as the team's only third-year player. "We haven't had a weight room since I was a freshman. It kind of blew me away how good we did last year."

Hart Principal Laurence Strauss wouldn't speculate on when the locker room would be ready, but he has confidence in his football team.

"They've gone through so much adversity," he said. "If they get lockers, it'll be great. If they don't, they'll stay focused on their mission."

Fear of unknown: Who are these guys?

That's the question both coaches have been asking as they prepare for tonight's football game between Antelope Valley and visiting M.E. LaZerte High of Canada.

"I don't know anything about them, but it's a football game," said Antelope Valley Coach Brent Newcomb, who had to scramble to fill two holes in the schedule after Ridgecrest Burroughs moved to another league and Hesperia pulled out of a nonleague game.

After failing to schedule any Southern California teams, Newcomb asked Antelope Valley administrators to call LaZerte, located in Edmonton, Alberta.

Newcomb still had the business card LaZerte defensive coordinator Don Guy gave him at a coaches' clinic several years ago.

Both sides agreed to tonight's game, but no one knows what to expect on the field.

"All we've talked about is the accommodations, and we haven't gotten any football information," Voyageur Coach Bo Jereniuk said. "But they sound like nice people and we're excited about it."

Jereniuk might not be excited after the game. Antelope Valley is 23-4 over the past two seasons.

Friendly foes: If this week's itinerary has any influence, Antelope Valley and LaZerte players will be more in the mood to pat backs than deliver blows when they take the field at Antelope Valley tonight.

The Antelopes and Voyageurs had a pizza party Thursday, after which LaZerte players spent the night at the homes of Antelope Valley players. Before the game, players will attend classes, eat lunch together and exchange gifts.

Could too much fraternizing spoil the game?

"Absolutely not," said LaZerte's Jereniuk, who has taken teams to Southern California four times. "The chumming of the players is to learn camaraderie as well as competition.

"We've had kids make fantastic friends over the years. They've come back and visited these areas because of these games."

Two LaZerte players we're expected to stay with Newcomb, who has no scouting report.

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