When it comes to CIF championship football games, Hart has the edge over Valencia.
The two teams will be meeting for the third time in a CIF championship game. But it’s been 12 years since their last meeting. That means some of the players in Friday’s night Northern Division championship weren’t even in preschool yet.
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Hart beat Valencia, 42-13, in the 2001 CIF Southern Section Division III title game. The Indians also won the 1999 CIF title over Valencia, 34-6.
When it comes to recent history, Valencia has the edge. The Vikings beat Hart, 24-19, in November. The last time Hart beat Valencia was two years ago, 19-14, during the Foothill League season.
Hart running back Connor Wingenroth has been the key to the Indians’ recent run through the playoffs. He has gained 719 yards rushing in the three playoff games for Hart. He broke Hart’s single-game rushing record with 285 yards against Palos Verdes in the first round.
He rushed for 278 yards in Hart’s second-round win over Palos Verdes, the No. 1 seed in the Northern Division playoffs.
Wingenroth is averaging 236.7 yards per carry in the playoffs. He is coming off a five-touchdown performance against West Torrance in the semifinals.
The player from Valencia who is receiving the most attention this week is one who won’t be playing in the game. Receiver and defensive back Jay Jay Wilson was ejected from the semifinal game against Saugus after he hit a player in the end zone.
Referees ejected Wilson for the hit and the excessive celebration and taunts that followed. He will not be able to play in the championship game against Hart because of the ejection.
But Valencia has plenty of weapons on offense. Quarterback Jake Wallace threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns playing in only the first half of his team’s semifinal game against Saugus.
He is averaging 289.7 passing yards per game in the playoffs. He has thrown seven touchdown passes and scored a rushing touchdown in Valencia’s three playoff games.
Another player who has been putting up big numbers for Valencia all season is receiver Nick Jones. He has caught 16 touchdown passes, including one against Saugus in the semifinals, and has more than 1,100 yards receiving in 13 games.
Five of his touchdown catches have come in the playoffs. He caught two against Redondo Union in the first round and two more against Arroyo Grande in the quarterfinals.
Hart has history on its side. The Indians have won eight CIF championships, but the last one was in 2003. They won four CIF titles in a row from 1998-2001 and went to six CIF championship games in a row from 1998-2003.
Valencia is 0-3 in CIF championship games. They lost to Hart twice and lost to Mission Viejo, 49-21, in the 2004 Southern Section Division II championship.
The odds are favoring Valencia in Friday night’s Northern Division championship game. The Vikings are the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, the last seeded team remaining.
Hart entered the playoffs as the third-place team from the Foothill League. The Indians were ranked No. 1 in the Northern Division for eight weeks before losing to Valencia in November. They also lost to Canyon in the Foothill League finale and dropped to third place in the league standings.
Both teams are 11-2, but Valencia has an eight-game winning streak. The Vikings haven’t lost a game since Oct. 4 to Loyola, 39-20. They won the Foothill League championship with a perfect 5-0 record.
The Southern Section Northern Division championship game is at Valencia High School on Friday night. Kickoff is at 7.
Follow Tim Haddock on Twitter @thaddock.
Photo: Valencia’s Jay Jay Wilson (6) will not be able to play in the CIF Southern Section Northern Divison championship game against Hart on Friday night, He was ejected from the semifinal game against Saugus. (Credit: Kevin Karzin)
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Source: Santa Clarita News