East County Sports

Foothillers look to take step forward this year

NOTE: This is the seventh of a 13-part series that will take a look at each football team that East County Sports.com covers.  Each day, we will look at a different school, leading up to the final preview which will be published on the day that most of the teams in East County have their scrimmage leading into the 2015 season.  This edition we look at how the Grossmont Foothillers will attempt to bounce back from an injury riddled season.

By Chris Davis
© East County Sports.com
EL CAJON (8-15-15) — Last year was a season filled with injuries for the Grossmont Foothillers.  But 2015 could be the season that is the beneficiary of those injuries.  Of course with the Foothillers’ depth, they still led the East County in offense.

The Grossmont Foothillers finished with a 6-6 record last year, at most schools they would handle the situation with a “Hey, we were 500 this year, not a bad year.”  Grossmont on the other hand, has a slightly different perspective, as they are used to winning and getting to the second round of the playoffs.  Coach TOM KARLO and company want to start to take the next step for the program.

Roster breakdown:
Quarterbacks:  JARED REDFIELD looks to be the leading candidate to be the opening night starter.  Redfield started a handful of games for the Foothillers last season before going down with an injury.  In the games that he did play, he completed 49.2 percent of his throws for 533 yards and four touchdowns.  HUNTER GAINES, a 6-1 junior, will be coming up from the junior varsity squad to back him up.

“There could be movement at any time, but Jared is leading this team and is making good decisions,” Coach Karlo stated.

Harr GRO

Jake Haar

Running backs:  JAKE HARR is looking to make a big name for himself in his senior season.  As Coach Karlo mentioned “He is the best running back that no one talks about, but that is OK with us.”  Coach Karlo has a point, normally when a player has 1,036 all-purpose yards in only six games people are going to be talking about him.  The fact that not a single preseason publication is talking about him is rather surprising.  JAMES MACKEY (Jr, 5-7, 190) will be backing him up, as he comes up from the JV.  Transferring in from Valhalla is ANDREW HOLT (Jr, 5-8, 155) who was the JV running back in Eastern El Cajon last year.  Also in the mix is sophomore SHEVELL STERLING, who was arguably one of the best freshman running backs last year.

“We have a nice mix of old and young running backs and is probably the deepest group that we have,” Karlo declared.

Wide receivers:  Fourteen different players caught balls last season for the Foothillers, 10 of which were wide receivers.  So lots of folks got varsity experience last year, which will help the ‘Hillers this season.  KHALEED DAVIS is the leading returner from last year.  Davis caught 32 passes for 471 yards and four touchdowns.  Also returning is KYLE PINEDA (15-198-1), DOMONIQUE GUEVARA (9-140-0), KYLE CREWS (2-26-1 in one game) and sophomore JAILEN BAILEY.  That is quite the quintet of players that are returning.

“It is a very deep group and they have experience on Friday nights,” Karlo asserted.

Offensive line: CAMERON LISK is the lone returner to the line. JOEY FENICK, TOMMY MLYNIEC, JUSTIN SMITH, CONNOR SELANDER, HECTOR LEYVA are all fighting for playing time.

“It is our most youthful position, but it is good to have a solid guy and that is what Cameron Lisk is,” Karlo said about his line.

“We have a perfect mix of youth and experience,” Karlo reported about his entire defense.

Defensive line:  JOSE TEJADA is the lone returner.  Coach Karlo however is very excited about a transfer from Samoa in OTTO TALATAINA. And what head coach wouldn’t be happy to have a 6-1, 300 pound junior lineman with an attitude on their team?  “He has been lighting up camp,” Karlo commented about Talataina.  Also looking for some playing time are BRANDON ARMS (6-4, 240, junior), FRANKLIN GOLOJUCH (6-3, 200, junior), ELI QUINN (6-3, 190, senior) and ANDREW MINK (6-2, 215, junior).

“Our JV linemen are coming up from a team that only allowed about 16 points per game last year,” Karlo bragged.

Linebackers:  JOSH McFAUL (85 tackles) was honorable mention All-Grossmont Hills last year.  Also figuring in the mix is LUKE MORSE (nine tackles in four games), MARKUS MELERO and NATE TIAPULA.

“Nate has been turning some heads in camp,” Karlo mentioned.

Defensive backs/Secondary:  ALEX LILLIARD (37 tackles in 2014, see video above) returns to the field after running a 4.64 (in the 40 yard dash) at the Nike combine that was held up in Los Angeles.  BRIGHTON HORNBROOK (11 tackles in only five games) and RILEY HAVIRD are both turning heads in camp.

Special teams:  Pineda comes back as the kicker.  The Foothillers are (and this is no top secret item here) very aggressive in their play calling, so punting doesn’t usually happen, but in the off chance that it does occur once every three quarters or so, BRITTNEY HUFF could be doing those duties.

The season will kickoff with a home game against Morse.  Last season Morse, who resides in the City League, went 6-7 while losing to Christian in the Division III semifinals.

September will begin with a home game against Division II Otay Ranch. Otay went a sub-par 5-6 including a loss to Lincoln in the first round of the Division II playoffs.  After an early bye, the ‘Hillers will travel to Hilltop.  The Lancers went 2-8 and finished dead last in the Metro-South Bay League.  To wrap the first full month the Hornets of Lincoln come to Grossmont.

October 2nd will see Grossmont travel to Poway.  Poway had a very sub-standard year going 1-9 in the Palomar League.  One week later, another roadie for the ‘Hillers as they travel to the reigning CIF-SDS Division II champions (El Capitan).  The third week of the month will have the opening of Grossmont Hills League and Homecoming against the Cougars of Steele Canyon.  Week nine will have a trip down Highway 125 to MountMiguel.  Halloween Eve will be the renewal of the longtime Musket rivalry game as Helix will travel to Grossmont.

The final week of the season will see the Foothillers travel to Valhalla.  In 2014, Steele Canyon, Valhalla and Grossmont tied for third in the Grossmont Hills League.

“We had 12 kids that missed three or more games with injuries,” Karlo said about the 2014 squad.  “We had four knee problems as well.”  If the Foothillers can keep healthy this season, not only is a league championship on the horizon, so is either an OPEN or a Division I championship within their grasp.


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