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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Lining Up for No. 1

Quarterbacks get the headlines at Hart High, but with its heralded offense struggling, the defensive line is the biggest reason the Indians are 2-0.

September 21, 2000|DAVE DESMOND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEWHALL — Every football season, the talk about Hart High revolves around its quarterback. Rightfully so. The Indians have built a conga line of quarterbacks marching on to college programs.

But it's been the defensive line, rather than the guy throwing the pigskin, which has saved the Indians' bacon this season.

Peter Dubsky, Evan Allen, Chris Frome and Jose Flores form Hart's version of the Fearsome Foursome and are the region's best defensive front.

They're a primary reason the Indians (2-0) are ranked No. 1 in the region by The Times entering tonight's televised nonleague showdown with No. 3 Westlake.

You want a rush? Forget the roller coasters at nearby Six Flags. Tonight, quarterback Todd Feiereisen of Westlake will have 945 pounds of fury charging at him. That should get the adrenaline pumping.

These guys are big. They're intimidating. They're nasty.

"They're formidable," Coach Jim Benkert of Westlake said. "They rush the passer well and they redirect the run. They're my biggest problem right now, [figuring out] how we're going to run the football on them."

Benkert isn't alone.

While Stanford-bound quarterback Kyle Matter and Co. have reaped most of the headlines, it's almost been overlooked that the defense has allowed fewer than 10 points in 10 of its last 16 games, posted two shutouts and led the Indians to victories of 36-6 over Monroe and 16-6 over Thousand Oaks the last two weeks.

And many of those points were scored against reserves late in one-sided victories.

"Last year, they didn't get nearly the credit they deserved," Matter said. "They deserved a lot. This year, they're even better."

It's difficult to imagine anything or anyone overshadowing these four.

Last season, Allen, 6 feet 4, 235 pounds, teamed with Dubsky (6-1, 220) and Frome (6-5 1/2, 235) to help Hart win its second consecutive Southern Section Division III championship.

It was the first time in 11 seasons under Coach Mike Herrington that the Indians had gone with a three-man front.

They have returned to a four-man line this season, thanks to the emergence of Flores (6-2, 255), a senior who sat out the last two seasons because of academic problems.

With no returning starters in the secondary and the graduation of All-American linebacker Patrick Norton, the Indians have benefited from the experience and talent up front.

"It's awesome to all be back together again for another year," said Dubsky, who had four sacks, including a safety, last week against Thousand Oaks.

"If one guy makes a mistake, we're strong enough and experienced enough to correct it."

Herrington, who entered the season with concerns about his inexperienced offensive line, doesn't lose sleep over the defensive side.

"We've had some good defensive linemen over the years," he said. "But as a unit, none quite as good as this group."

Allen, considered a major college prospect at defensive end and tight end, has recruiting trips scheduled to Arizona State and California.

Last season, he set a school record by knocking down six passes against Division I power Loyola and was selected second-team All-Valley by The Times.

Dubsky, also a second-team selection, is an excellent defensive tackle but might not project as a prospect at that position because he is undersized.

That's why the coaching staff experimented with Dubsky as a linebacker during the off-season. He was switched back just before the opener.

"We decided we were a better defensive team with him on the line," Herrington said.

Frome, who started at defensive end as a sophomore, is considered a prize by many scouts and figures to be one of the more heavily recruited players from the region next year.

Flores impressed coaches as a freshman but has had to wait until his senior season to show his potential as a varsity-level defensive tackle.

Together, they set goals before each game. Usually, it's three or four sacks, two forced fumbles and to set up at least one score for the offense.

"One of the reasons our offense is so great all the time is because our defense is forcing other teams to go three-and-out and we're getting them the ball in good field position," Dubsky said.

The Indians are allowing 202 yards a game, only 61 on the ground. They haveallowed only two touchdowns, one set up by an Indian fumble deep in their own territory.

Westlake is averaging 357 yards per game and came within a two-point conversion of defeating state power Clovis West in the final minute last week.

If the Indians win tonight, it will be on the strength of their defense.

And the offense will probably get the credit.

"We don't mind," Allen said. "We take pride in what we do, but it's always nice to be noticed."

Said Dubsky: "I just love reading about us winning. It doesn't matter who gets the credit."

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