Antelopes Take It to and From Hart : Division II final: Five Indian turnovers pave way for Antelope Valley’s 36-15 victory.


Hart High’s offense was a high-flying circus act--a real headliner.

But in front of 8,000 fans at College of the Canyons Friday night, Antelope Valley’s defense stopped the show and closed the curtain, posting a stunning 36-15 rout to win the Southern Section Division II championship.

The victory was the third section title for Antelope Valley under Coach Brent Newcomb, whose teams won championships in 1981 and 1988.

Hart (13-1), with a line that averages 6 foot 4, 266 pounds and an offense that scored 51 and 55 points in its two previous playoff games, might still be seeing dust from what will be remembered as a furious first-half Antelope stampede.


In the first 24 minutes, Hart committed five turnovers--two fumbles and three interceptions--and watched Antelope Valley (11-2) ring up a 29-0 lead at halftime.

“We were pumped this whole week,” said Antelope tackle Chad Shrout, who sacked Hart quarterback Steve McKeon four times and kicked three field goals. “We studied their offense. We knew what to do.

“Our motto is ‘Bring the punch to the party.’ We brought the punch.”

The Antelope Valley defense blitzed McKeon, clogged the middle and shot through gaps to greet alarmed ballcarriers in the backfield. It took the game to Hart.

Or did Hart hand the game to Antelope Valley? The Indians seemed flustered by their opponent’s relentlessness.

While Antelope Valley’s defense did most of the damage, running back Jermaine Lewis had 207 of the team’s 314 offensive yards. He rushed for 155 yards and one touchdown and passed for 52 and another score.

McKeon completed 24 of 41 passes for 364 yards with three interceptions, but Hart’s best player, running back Ted Iacenda, was held to 60 yards in 13 carries. A 19-yard run on his first carry was his longest.


“(Antelope Valley) has such speed in the secondary, they just fly up and make tackles,” Hart offensive coordinator Dean Herrington said. “I’m sure it shellshocked us a little bit.”

After Shrout opened the scoring with a line-drive 45-yard field goal, Justin Reiner intercepted a McKeon pass near midfield. Six plays later, Lewis scored on a 10-yard run for a 10-0 lead.

On the first play of Hart’s next possession, Iacenda, the area’s all-time scoring leader, dropped a handoff. He no doubt was distracted by 6-foot-4, 222-pound Caleb Smith flashing through the line.

Smith recovered, and Shrout kicked a 28-yard field goal for a 13-0 lead.

Iacenda then fumbled again, Smith recovered again, and Shrout kicked a 43-yard field goal.

Sound like a broken record? Call it sweet music for the underdog Antelopes. And the party was just starting.

Hart got the ball back and held onto it, but couldn’t move it. After a punt, Lewis scampered 61 yards on second down--slipping through the arms of defensive back Doug Satterfield--and scored for a 22-0 lead.

McKeon then threw another interception, this one by Tony Walker, who weaved 48 yards into the hart end zone. He shot to the Hart sideline, then cut back to the middle of the field and jumped over McKeon, spinning in the air as if pirouetting at the 15.


“I didn’t say anything,” Walker said. “But I know he probably saw my cleats.”

Shrout’s extra-point kick made it 29-0 at halftime.

“They’re definitely the best defensive team we’ve seen this year,” McKeon said.

Hart could never recover, though it outplayed the Antelopes in the second half.

The Indians opened the third quarter with Chris McCabe recovering an onside kick. It led to a spectacular 28-yard touchdown pass from McKeon to J.B. Nelson. Nelson caught the ball over his shoulder in the corner of the end zone with Walker draped all over him.

Midway through the fourth quarter, McKeon found Nelson (four catches, 137 yards) wide open for 57 yards. Walker dragged him down at the two, but Iacenda scored his 41st touchdown on the next play then added a two-point conversion run to make it 29-15.

But Hart couldn’t stop the Antelopes from scoring again. Lewis capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive by throwing a 38-yard halfback pass to Walker. There wasn’t a defender from here to Lancaster and Walker carried the Antelopes’ title across the goal line.

“Everybody was doubting us,” said Walker of Antelope Valley’s underdog status. “I’m not surprised.”