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ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Hart shows offensive versatility in 42-13 win over Birmingham

Connor Wigenroth rushes for 185 yards in 14 carries and scores five touchdowns as Indians show they have many talented skill-position players.

September 27, 2013|Eric Sondheimer

After scoring 56, 55 and 56 points in its first three games, Newhall Hart let everyone know that its offense is filled with talented skill-position players.

The options for Coach Mike Herrington are plentiful, and Friday night's performance against Lake Balboa Birmingham offered another glimpse of the Indians' versatility.

While junior quarterback Brady White had a streak of 123 consecutive passes without a pass intercepted broken (he was intercepted twice), Hart turned to running back Connor Wigenroth, who rushed for 185 yards in 14 carries and scored five touchdowns in a 42-13 victory.

Hart is 4-0 and rekindling memories of its glory days from the 1990s, when the Indians won three Southern Section titles.

All the skeptics who watched seven-on-seven passing tournaments last summer and wondered whether Hart could duplicate its success once pads came on are becoming believers.

"Everyone who doubts us adds fuel to our fire to prove them wrong," said White, who completed 20 of 29 passes for 250 yards and one touchdown while also scoring a touchdown.

It's come down to whether Hart's offensive line would be able to give White protection to throw, and they've performed their role better than expected. The Indians knew that returning three-year starters Blake Porter (center) and Erik Stafford (right guard) would be good, but sophomore Nick Presley, a transfer from Encino Crespi, has been solid at left guard, and right tackle Marco Ayala and left tackle Ethan Quinn have done well too.

Then there are the receivers. Herrington is close to uttering the words, "They're the best group we've had." Starters Trent Irwin, Wes Fitzpatrick, Davis Koppenhaver and Chase White have terrific hands. And there's Wigenroth, who was Hart's quarterback until White showed up, then showed loyalty by agreeing to switch to running back instead of doing the usual transfer to another school.

"Running back is really fun," Wiggenroth said.

He had touchdown runs of 35, two, 41 and two yards, plus a one-yard touchdown reception.

Hart was one of the first schools to use a no-huddle offense in the 1990s. The Indians dropped the no-huddle in recent years but went back to it this season because it fits the personnel.

"Realistically, we're going to have games we have difficulty scoring," Herrington said.

Perhaps the teams in their own Foothill League will handle the Indians' offense better because of their familiarity. But White's development means all bets are off on trying to stop the offense.

"He's just more comfortable," Herrington said. "Last year he felt a little pressure. He went through a few growing pains, but he did have a great year. He studied film. He knows the game better. He has really good receivers."

Herrington has won 15 Foothill League titles and five Southern Section championships in 23 seasons. But the Indians haven't won since 2003. That could change this season.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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