PAUL PUTIGNANO | HOMETOWNSTATION.COM
If you can’t make it to Cougar Stadium at COC on Saturday, you can catch the game live on KHTS AM-1220. The CIF state bowl game will also be streamed live on our website.
Former Hart High middle linebacker Patrick Larimore was known for his tenacity, playmaking ability and instincts on the field.
Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking Santa Clarita news alerts delivered right to your inbox.
Larimore racked up awards, and in 2006, he set the team record for total tackles in a single season.
Indians senior Garrett Updegraft remembers watching him play, looking up to him and dreaming about following in Larimore’s footsteps.
This season, Updegraft has gone beyond those footsteps, breaking the single-season record with 149 total tackles and leading the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division championship-winning defense into the CIF State Regional Championship Bowl game against Chaminade of West Hills on Saturday at the College of the Canyons.
“I grew up watching him play,” Updegraft says of Larimore. “He was always what I modeled myself after as a defensive player. It’s really cool to get my name up there with his name, and all the other great linebackers that have gone through Hart.”
Updegraft entered the CIF championship game against Valencia on Dec. 6 with 138 total tackles and tied with Larimore for the team record. He notched 11 against the Vikings to help Hart secure the CIF title.
Updegraft has hit double-digit tackles nine times this season, registering 16 in wins over Santa Monica on Oct. 4 and Saugus on Oct. 25.
“He’s been the leader of our defense,” says Hart head coach Mike Herrington. “He’s the one who gets the defensive calls. He’s got to be able to plug up the run and always cover the pass. He’s got a lot of things on his plate for us to be successful.
“He’s the emotional leader, too, and will get the guys fired up. He’s the one who has to recognize [the opponent’s] plays and what they are trying to do and make sure the guys are following his lead.”
And he’s done just that.
“We don’t settle for what we did the last game,” Updegraft says.
“I always try to keep myself a little hyped up,” he adds. “I kind of save all my energy for the game. I stay pretty focused, and I think we play better as a defense when we play loose, so I try to keep the guys loose. When we get uptight, that’s when we start making mistakes. But when we stay loose, that’s when we have our best games.”
To keep the guys loose, Updegraft says he tries to keep things light-hearted on the field by cracking jokes and talking trash.
That doesn’t mean the senior isn’t taking things seriously.
Quite the contrary, in fact, which gives the offense more confidence.
“It’s great as a quarterback to know that the defense is going to get stops and get the job done,” says Indians junior quarterback Brady White.
More than his own efforts, however, Updegraft credits the chemistry of the team for Hart’s success.
“I think it’s just playing hard and playing for each other,” he says. “It’s a really close-knit group. I think the fact we play for each other instead of playing for ourselves, that’s a big factor in winning.”
Undoubtedly, Updegraft has proven to be a big factor, as well.
And the record book says so.
KHTS AM-1220 will be highlighting several impact players this week, as we look at the team’s path to a state title. KHTS’ first story looked at several factors that were key in Hart’s championship run. Hart Indians lineman Blake Porter was featured Tuesday.
Do you have a news tip? Call us at (661) 298-1220, or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Santa Clarita News