Trying to replace a standout running back can pose problems for an experienced player, let alone for a sophomore.
However, as Hart High’s Ted Iacenda showed Friday night, he is ready to play with the big boys.
Iacenda gained 118 yards in 20 carries--and scored the winning touchdown--to lead Hart to a 24-17 nonleague victory over host Thousand Oaks. The game was a showcase for Iacenda (6-foot-1, 200 pounds), who took over the Indian rushing duties from graduated standout Deriek Charles--The Times’ 1992 Valley back of the year.
“Ted really grew up in a hurry tonight,” said quarterback Mike Kocicka, who completed 12 of 30 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown. “He is the big back we’ve been looking for. If he can keep this up, I think we’re going to be pretty good.”
Hart is pretty good right now. The Indians improved to 2-0. They whipped Pasadena last week, 37-8. Thousand Oaks dropped to 0-2.
Iacenda scored the game’s final touchdown with 6 minutes 41 seconds remaining on an 11-yard run. Matt Kohl’s extra-point kick closed the game’s scoring.
Iacenda’s success should come as no surprise. He is from good stock: His older brother, Andy, was a standout running back on the 1986 Hart team that went 13-1 and won a Southern Section championship.
Ted is intent on carving his own niche in Indian history.
“It felt great to go out there and prove myself,” Iacenda said. “I really haven’t felt any pressure because the coaches have just told me to go out and perform and be a good player.
"(The coaches) have faith in me and now I’m showing them what I can do.”
Hart took the lead with 14 seconds left in the third quarter when Kocicka connected with Jason Medearis for a 35-yard touchdown through the heart of the Lancer defense. Kohl’s kick gave Hart a 17-10 advantage.
But the Indians could not shake the Lancers.
On the ensuing possession, Thousand Oaks drove 87 yards in 10 plays, the final six yards coming on a pass from quarterback Trevor Thompson (16 of 25, 157 yards, one touchdown, one interception) to Chris Casillas in the right corner of the end zone with 8:39 to play. Andy Carpiac’s kick knotted the score at 17-17.
Kocicka looked confused through the first 24 minutes as the Lancers’ defense came out with as many as six defensive backs. He continually overthrew receivers, finishing six of 17 for 110 yards in the first half.