PAUL PUTIGNANO | HOMETOWNSTATION.COM
If you can’t make it to Cougar Stadium at College of the Canyons for Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. kickoff, you can catch the Hart vs. Chaminade showdown on KHTS AM-1220, and on our website and mobile app, which will have a live stream.
It was the first offensive play of Hart’s pre-league finale against Santa Monica, but it proved costly for Indians feature back Connor Wingenroth.
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Wingenroth took the handoff and turned up field. He gained 19 yards, but then missed the first three games of Foothill League play with a separated shoulder.
When the senior suited back up, he just wasn’t himself, he says.
But he found his groove at just the right time.
When was that?
“I’d say the first playoff game,” he says.
Any coincidence Hart went on to win its first CIF-Southern Section Northern Division championship in 10 years? Not likely.
Wingenroth’s postseason performance – 889 rushing yards and eight total touchdowns – has helped pace the Indians in the playoffs, and it’s a pace he’s expected to maintain heading into Saturday’s CIF State Regional Championship Bowl game against Chaminade of West Hills.
“He’s been the key to our success in the playoffs,” says Indians head coach Mike Herrington. “He’s had a great playoff run and is a guy we are looking to carry most of the load for us on offense.”
Wingenroth is averaging nearly 222 rushing yards per game in four postseason contests. In its three games without the versatile player, Hart (12-2) averaged 138 yards on the ground.
“He’s a great athlete,” says Indians lineman Blake Porter. “He can do anything. You can put him at any position on the field – other than lineman – and he’ll get the job done. He’s a really dynamic athlete. He’s really fast and he has great vision.”
Where does that vision come from?
Playing on both sides of the ball, Wingenroth says.
“I think since I’ve played defense and offense, I have a clue of what the defensive players are thinking and going to do and where their flow is,” he explains. “It helps me know on offense where the openings are.”
However, he’s also made his defensive presence known this postseason, notching the game-clinching interception in the CIF-SS championship against Valencia on Dec. 6.
“He could play anywhere,” says Hart defensive coordinator Patrick Dietz. “We could put him at defensive end, and he’d probably be the best one out there.”
For now, though, he’s doing just fine at running back.
On the year, Wingenroth has rushed 184 times for 1,664 yards with 25 total touchdowns and is averaging just over nine yards per carry. Those are stats the Indians haven’t seen from their backfield since Delano Howell shattered team records in 2007.
But the owner of offers from Cornell University, Colgate University, and the University of California, Davis isn’t focused on the past, he has his eyes on the future – namely, Chaminade.
After all, Wingenroth is healthy and firing on all cylinders.
And come Saturday, you can bet he’ll be doing everything he can to help the Indians win.
Wingenroth just wants to contribute, and it’s a lock that he will. He doesn’t care where he plays as long as he’s in the game.
Just ask him.
“As long as I’m on the field, I don’t care much,” he says.
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Source: Santa Clarita News