There were many new faces representing Hart High's football team Saturday, but the results were the same--another championship.
In their first seven-on-seven passing tournament of the summer, the Indians defeated Granada Hills, 13-0, in the championship game at Hart.
Running back Tim Gregory, returning from knee surgery in October, appeared faster than ever. He caught a 60-yard touchdown pass on the first play. Quarterback Matt Moore, replacing Stanford-bound Kyle Matter, fired the ball with accuracy and power.
An inexperienced Hart secondary and linebacker corps frustrated a Granada Hills passing attack that had knocked off Saugus, Mira Costa, Buena and Crescenta Valley to reach the final.
"You want to get under pressure situations and have your kids deal with it," co-coach Tom Harp of Granada Hills said. "Hart is good enough to make you start falling apart."
It was the third consecutive year the Highlanders lost to Hart in the final.
"Once again, we're the bridesmaid, but one of these days. . . . " Harp said.
About the only disappointment for the Indians were injuries to receivers Chris Steck and Julian Lewis, both of whom suffered concussions.
The big surprise was Hart's defense. The Indians used seven starters who rarely played last season. Making positive impressions were free safety Jimmy Neill and linebacker Eric Baron. Both had interceptions in the final.
Neill is the younger brother of former Hart quarterback David Neill. He's 5 feet 11 and wears size 14 shoes. David is a 6-4 senior at Nevada. Jimmy is hoping for a growth spurt by the end of summer.
New offensive coordinator Davis Delmatoff seemed to have few problems handling Hart's offense. With Gregory in top shape, the Indians have another weapon besides their passing attack.
"He's so hungry to get back at it," Hart Coach Mike Herrington said. "That first game next season he's going to be foaming at the mouth."
Granada Hills displayed an effective secondary, led by Jason Rilloraza, who had two interceptions in a semifinal victory over Crescenta Valley.
Chaminade reached the semifinals of the 16-team tournament. Most impressive for the Eagles was sophomore cornerback Marcus Everett, who had interceptions against Valencia and Hart. He's ready to become one of the top defensive backs in the Mission League.
Coach Jeff Engilman of Sylmar was in midseason form.
"I heard him screaming from Canyon Country," said one Sylmar fan. "But he's mellowed out. He didn't start screaming until the third play."