The statistics would imply Valencia High's downfall Saturday in the final of the Hart passing tournament was Hart quarterback Kyle Boller and his various receivers.
Valencia Coach Brian Stiman, however, pointed to a different culprit--the Indians' mystique.
"We just lost our focus and stopped running our routes and moving our feet on defense," said Stiman, whose team was routed, 20-6, by its Foothill League rival in the title game. "A lot of people in [the Santa Clarita] Valley and especially in Valencia focus so much on beating Hart that they stop focusing on the things that go into doing that."
Presumably those things include throwing and catching, neither of which the Vikings did well in the final.
Quarterback Brian Hamilton completed five of 20 passes for 62 yards, a touchdown and had five passes intercepted. The senior had his first two passes intercepted and his team trailed, 14-0, before he had the chance to throw a third.
Boller completed 10 of 23 passes with three touchdowns and two interceptions. In the first half, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior completed seven of nine passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
"It was more a battle with fatigue than anything else," said Hart Coach Mike Herrington, whose team was 6-0 Saturday and outscored its opponents, 150-20. "Kyle's arm looked awesome and he knew exactly where to go with the ball."
Boller, who earned all-league honors as a defensive back last season while playing second-string quarterback, described his performance as fair.
"I think I can do better, not aiming the ball as much and making better reads," Boller said.
On the first play, Hart linebacker Pat Norton intercepted Hamilton's pass and returned it to the Valencia three-yard line. Two plays later, Boller hit Jason Autry with a touchdown pass for a 6-0 lead.
On Valencia's second play, Hamilton's pass was grabbed by Hart safety Trevor Rich. Four plays later, Boller hooked up with Shawn Epstein for another three-yard touchdown pass. Boller hit Chris Ciccone for the two-point conversion and a 14-0 lead.
Hamilton fared better on Valencia's third possession, guiding the Vikings on a nine-play scoring drive down the 80-yard field. Ricky Zeller caught a 15-yard touchdown pass.
Ciccone caught Hart's final touchdown pass, a three-yard strike from Boller late in the half.
Hart defeated Harvard-Westlake, Royal, St. Bonaventure, Kennedy and Mira Costa to advance to the title game. Valencia defeated San Marino, Beverly Hills, Notre Dame, Littlerock and Granada Hills. . . . Valencia receiver-defensive back Ricky Zeller collided with a San Marino player early in the day and needed 18 stitches to close a gash on one of his ears. He returned for the rest of the Vikings' games with a bandage wrapped around his head. . . . Granada Hills upset Westlake, a noted passing team, 24-16. Darryl Stroh of Granada Hills, who along with Tom Harp came out of retirement to coach the Highlanders, showed he has lost none of his competitive fire. Stroh and Brian Stiman of Valencia engaged in a shouting match over a controversial play in their semifinal game. "It shouldn't be about coming out here and cheating," Stroh screamed.