They grabbed, pushed and bumped. It was just another day in the life of sophomore receiver Trent Irwin of Newhall Hart.
During summer seven-on-seven passing competitions, it becomes clear how impressive the 6-foot-1 Irwin really is catching passes and finding ways to get open against cornerbacks.
His pursuers try to get physical and intimidate, but Irwin answers with moves, maneuvers and tricks of the trade rarely seen from a 16-year-old.
It's a primary reason Hart Coach Mike Herrington believes Irwin could be the best receiver he's had since taking over the Hart program in 1989.
"He runs some unbelievable routes," Herrington said.
Irwin became the first Hart freshman to make all-league. He caught 50 passes for 785 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
"Last year was a new thing and getting used to the high school speed was real hard, so the beginning was rough," Irwin said. "It got better at the end, and I'm hoping to start this year as I did in the end."
Herrington's teams have won six Southern Section championships, the last in 2003. Hart produced 19 consecutive seasons of All-CIF quarterbacks from 1985 through 2003. But times have changed.
New schools West Ranch and Golden Valley opened, taking away students from the Hart attendance area. Plus, brother Rick, the longtime defensive coordinator, left after 2007 to coach with the youngest Herrington brother, Dean, at Alemany.
"Any coach who's at a public school that doesn't have traditional open enrollment is going to go through a stretch where they're not as successful," Herrington said.
Hart faced some tough times but appears on the way back. And the way to tell is all the terrific athletes on the roster. Besides Irwin, the Indians have three other underclassmen at receiver, including Wes Fitzpatrick.
There are two athletic quarterbacks competing for the starting job, junior Connor Wingenroth, who passed for 1,755 yards last season, and sophomore Brady White.
When Hart was passing the ball in great numbers, the Indians also had a steady group of outstanding receivers, including Soren Halladay, Cody Joyce and Ryan Wolfe.
Based on his early success, Irwin is going to fit right in with the great receivers of Hart's past.
Upland is champ
Upland won the Bonita tournament championship Saturday, defeating Valencia in the championship game. The Highlanders eliminated Hart in the semifinals.
Alemany won its fourth summer championship, beating Westlake Village Oaks Christian in the championship game of the Conejo Valley tournament.
The next big passing tournament begins Friday at Central Park in Saugus. Alemany, Long Beach Poly and Crespi lead the participating teams.
Also, the Bellflower tournament will take place Saturday, with St. John Bosco, St. Francis and Gardena Serra among the teams entered.