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Valley / Ventura County Sports

Hart Enjoys City Walk

Indian linebacker Norton emerges from Hunt's shadow with strong first-half play.

September 25, 1998|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VALENCIA — Sometimes it's difficult for linebacker Patrick Norton of Hart High to get noticed. He plays alongside Scott Hunt, perhaps the best linebacker in the region.

Norton, though, is ready to establish his own reputation for excellence. The 6-foot-2, 260-pound junior repeatedly slammed Sylmar ballcarriers to the turf in an overwhelming first-half performance Thursday night during Hart's 49-26 victory at College of the Canyons.

Norton played on defense only in the first half and had seven tackles, deflected a pass and twice dropped running backs for losses.

"He's like a bulldozer," Hart defensive coordinator Rick Herrington said. "He gets his momentum going and it's tough to block him. Everyone knows about Hunt, but everyone is going to know Norton real quick."

Hunt left the game late in the first half with a hamstring injury. By then, Hart was on its way to a 35-0 halftime lead. Hunt was on crutches after the game and could be sidelined for several weeks depending on the severity of the injury.

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London Woodfin, Sylmar's 26-year-old defensive coordinator, is being groomed as the successor to Jeff Engilman.

"I think London is ready to take over," Engilman said of the former UCLA defensive tackle.

But, said Engilman, "I don't know if I'll ever retire. I might give it up a few years, then start somewhere else."

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How dominating is Hart's offensive attack?

"It's a nightmare," Woodfin said. "We were watching films for hours and they never ran the same play twice."

Kyle Boller possesses all the skills to challenge the top quarterbacks in Hart history.

"He's one of the better quarterbacks I've seen in my years as a high school coach," Engilman said. "He's got great arm strength. I'm surprised those receivers can catch his balls. Those suckers are hard."

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Tight end/defensive end George Wrighster of Sylmar left little doubt of his NCAA Division I-A future. He caught seven passes for 131 yards and one touchdown. He also sacked Boller twice.

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