East County Sports

Eagles stay grounded after championship experience

Granite Hills QB Jacob Siegfried is protected by junior tackle Garret Curran / CSPROPHOTO




By Ramon Scott



EL CAJON – The Granite Hills Eagles may consider themselves underdogs in the Grossmont Hills League this season, but their opponents know better.

The Eagles took some graduation hits off of last year’s 9-2 team that swept through league play with a perfect 4-0 mark.

But in terms of sheer numbers, Granite Hills has one of the most experienced rosters in the East County, and return 13 starters.

The Eagles’ continued commitment to the program headed up by KELLAN COBBS (26-21 career record at GH) finally paid off in 2015, but may have left a bit of a bitter taste to those returning after being upset as the No. 3-seed in the CIF Division II playoffs against No.6-seeded Otay Ranch, 35-20.

Granite Hills will rely on their size and power up front to try and keep them at the top of the league.

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Seniors KALVIN SANDERS (6-1, 275) and MARTIN SAMANIEGO (5-11 245), along with junior GARRET CURRAN (6-5, 265) are the Eagles’ true impact men up front. The Eagles will likely put the section’s biggest unit on the line on offense.

Samaniego was a first-team all-Valley League selection last season, while Sanders and Curran made the second-team all-league.

“I’m looking forward to running the ball,” Sanders said. “We’re a powerhouse run team. All of our linemen are returnees, so we’re ready to pound the ball. It’s going to be unmatched this year.”

Senior NOAH JOUBERT (6-2, 190), DL/WR, was an All-East County second team defender last season.

Senior DB/WR GUSTAVO GUTIERREZ and senior LB GABE JOHNSTON also were both second-team all-Valley coaches choices last season.

“We going to be a tough team to beat,” Curran said. “We lost some key guys, but we’re going to do well. We’re going to work hard and compete every day. We’re going for another league championship and then go farther in the playoffs.

Returning senior starters include LB AQUILI DURADE (5-11 215) and DB ELYJAH PALOMERA.

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Tyler Gonzalez wraps up a Santana ball carrier last season. / csprophoto

More returning starters include junior TYLER GONZALEZ, junior TE/DL WILLIAM BURTON (6-5, 230), both second-team all-Valley League last season, and  junior DL/RB DAVID GONZALEZ (6-3, 200).

Junior JACOB SIEGFRIED returns as the primary signal caller. He completed 53 percent of his passes last year for  764 yards and eight touchdowns.

Top senior additional contributors this season include OL ANGELO SANDERS (6-1, 290), DL/FB KYLE TINNEY and DB BRENDAN QUILL.

Underclassmen expected to have impact roles include sophomores NOAH ESPINOZA (LB) and  ETHAN RAYMOND (DB/WR) and sophomore wide receiver HUSSAN GATES.

Joubert and Sanders are both being looked at by Div. 1 and Div. 2 colleges, while junior Curran, Burton and Gonzalez are all receiving Div. 1 interest, according to Cobbs.

Granite Hills’ non-league games include matchups against San Pasqual, Valley Center, Hilltop and San Marcos.


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