East County Sports

Foothillers send Sweetwater back downstream




By Mark Meadows
© East County Sports.com


EL CAJON (9-17-16) — In an era where many coaches will say one thing and do another, Grossmont High head coach TOM KARLO isn’t one of them. He is going to throw the ball and press the action and he doesn’t care if you know it. Entering the 2016 campaign the main question was if he had the right man to pull the trigger.

There are no more questions.

Quarterback HUNTER GAINES (11 of 20, 145 yards  1 TD) stepped into the lead role last year and thus far has flourished in Karlo’s up-tempo  offense.

The result on Friday (Sept.  16)  was a resounding smack to the jaw of the visiting Sweetwater Red Devils in a 41-8 win at Jack Mashin Stadium.

“We started slow today,” Karlo said. “But we found our rhythm and got back to how we like to play.”


Gaines and Sterling in the Grossmont backfield Friday night.

While Gaines only threw 20 times, a balanced running game and a lopsided score were certainly factors.

Sweetwater (0-3) marched down the field on the opening drive and seemed poised to punch their ticket. But at the Grossmont 2-yard line, with their backs to the wall, ANDREW LIRA fell on a loose ball to thwart the Red Devil drive.

After dodging a bullet on the first drive, Grossmont gave a little back when a high snap in the end zone resulted in a safety and a 2-0 Sweetwater lead with 7:41 left in the first quarter.

Grossmont would score the next 41 points.

SHEVELL STERLING had a run for 20 yards, and Gaines had throws of 13, 7, and 8 yards.  Running back JAMES MACKEY capped off an 81-yard drive with a 2-yard plunge to start the Foothillers’ scoring with 3:36 left in quarter one.

Sweetwater mysteriously kept trying to convert 4th downs in this game. They weren’t successful. Their first attempt was inside their own 20-yard line with Grossmont taking over on the 13-yard line. One play later, Gaines found ZAK FARRIS on a 13-yard TD pass to put the Foothillers up 14-2 before the quarter ended.

The next Grossmont drive ended in similar fashion to their 2nd drive with Mackey (8 rushes, 40 yards 3 TDS) diving in from 1-yard out. It was 21-2, and it would get worse for the Red Devils.


Grossmont set to run a play Friday night.

Sterling (7 rushes, 119 yards  2 TD) would get into the action on the next drive. After a 16-yard Gaines pass to wideout CURTIS JONES, Sterling had a 13-yard burst and later finished it off with a 12-yard scamper along the far side. He popped it up the middle and broke right to the sideline and left Sweetwater grasping at number 5’s jersey to no avail.

Sweetwater’s next 4th down try was at their own 49-yard line. Again they failed. Two  plays later on a 2nd and 16 from their own 45, Sterling lit up the highlight reel. He bobbed and weaved his way for the first 10 yards and cut to the near sideline. After side-stepping a would-be tackler, he turned on the afterburners and anyone who thought they might catch him would be sadly mistaken – 55 yards later he had put the Foothillers up 34-2 before the end of the half.

“The offensive line had great push tonight,” Sterling said. “I just try to hit the hole hard and trust my guys up front.”

On the first drive of the 2nd half Grossmont embarked on a 7-play drive with the usual suspects involved. Sterling had runs of 6 and 11 yards. Gaines had a 23 pass to ZACH JONES. On first and 10 from the Sweetwater 15, Mackey thought it was a good time for his 3rd TD of the night. He blasted off the right side and cut up the seam and was handing the football to the referee before you could say 41-2.

Sweetwater requested a running clock with 10:50 left in the 3rd quarter and this one ended quickly.

QB Gaines talked about the Foothillers’ performance. “I’m a little more experienced this year, but we’ve had more balance too,” he stated. “Our offensive line has been a big part of our early success.”

Next up for Grossmont, a trip to Lincoln to take on the (3-0) Hornets.


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