East County Sports

Braunsdorf sparks slow-start Scotties

BRETT BRAUNSDORF, of Helix, rushes against Bonita Vista Friday night. / photo by Ramon Scott




By Jim Lindgren
© East County Sports.com


LA MESA (10-1-16) — The nearby annual La Mesa Octoberfest got off to an early September start on Friday night, and, fittingly, a dude named Braunsdorf carried Helix to victory.

Nice timing, kid. And what a coming out party.

Coming into Friday’s test against Bonita Vista, Helix senior tailback BRETT BRAUNSDORF had exactly one carry in his varsity “career” … for exactly zero yards.

At halftime Friday, Braunsdorf had exactly four lifetime carries for exactly three yards.


Helix’s RASHAD SCOTT runs with the ball on offense Friday night against Bonita Vista. / photo by Ramon Scott

By game’s end, Braunsdorf had a Septemberfest of yards, touchdowns and accolades after leading the Highlanders to a 21-6 victory over Bonita Vista at Jim Arnaiz Field.

Giving the No. 5-ranked Highlanders (3-2) a much-needed push in the running game, Braunsdorf rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. He also caught three passes for 33 yards.

Bonita Vista (0-5) remained winless with its fourth loss to a ranked opponent this season after winning the San Diego Section Division III championship last year.

“Brett was our spark,” Helix first-year coach ROBBIE OWENS said. “We knew what he could do, but he hadn’t had the opportunity to show it on the field until tonight. He definitely stepped it up.”

With Helix clinging to a 7-6 halftime lead, three of Braunsdorf’s first four carries of the second half ended in the end zone. His first touch of the half was an apparent 8-yard TD run, but the play was negated by a holding penalty.

No worries. Braunsdorf took the next handoff nine yards to the 9-yard line. On the next play, he deftly cut left behind an awesome seal block by linemen BLAYKE DE LA ROSA, PAKA ROJAS and MATT AVII and scooted nine yards into the end zone for a 14-6 Helix lead.

After a three-and-out defensive hold, Braunsdorf took the next handoff up the middle, got key blocks from ISIAH MANN and WILLIAM PAYNE, stiff-armed a defender at the line of scrimmage, broke free to the right and tip-toed along the sideline for a 51-yard score.


Helix’s JAYLEN ARNOLD extends for yards against Bonita Vista. / photo by Ramon Scott

Coming into Friday’s game, Braunsdorf had transferred schools more times than he had carried the football.

He played for the Helix JV as a sophomore and was on the varsity for only one game last year before leaving the program because of “family problems.” After the season, Braunsdorf transferred to West Hills. He came back to Helix this summer but had to sit out the first three games due to the San Diego Section transfer rules.

Last week in a tough 35-28 loss to Cathedral Catholic, he got his first varsity carry but was stuffed for no gain.

“I’ve been working hard all off-season,” Braunsdorf said. “It feels great to get a chance like this. Glad to be back.”

NATHEN STINSON was the highlight runner for three seasons for the Highlanders, who won the section Open Division championship last year. But the Scotties had mostly struggled in the running game in their first four games this season, rushing for only 456 yards.

“We feel very good about adding (Braunsdorf) to the group of weapons we have on offense,” said Owens, adding: “He’s been doing better at practice. We knew he was going to get some touches tonight, and he really stepped it up.”

In its first four games, Helix had relied heavily on junior quarterback CARSON BAKER, who entered Friday’s game averaging 243 passing yards per game with six touchdowns and only two interceptions.


Rashad Scott extends for a tackle on a Barons ball carrier. / photo by Ramon Scott.

Baker was 5-for-5 for 50 yards in his first series, tossing a 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end JAYLEN ARNOLD as Helix took a 7-0 lead seven minutes into the game.

Baker, however, would throw three interceptions in the next 17 minutes, and Bonita Vista pulled within 7-6 after Anthony Posada capped a nine-play, 61-yard drive with a 10-yard scoring pass to Nick Esquivias with 2:13 left in the first half.

“We should have been up 21-0 at halftime,” Owens said. “Instead, they go into halftime with a late touchdown and some confidence.”

The Highlanders’ defense and special teams gave the offense great field position throughout the first half, but Helix had only one score and a 1-point lead to show for it.

“We had some great opportunities in the first half, but mistakes hurt us,” Owens said. “Stupid penalties and interceptions.”

Braunsdorf and all-section performer RASHAD SCOTT made the difference in the second half.

Bonita Vista’s Robert Cota picked off Baker for the third time on the first play of the third quarter, but moments later Scott returned a punt 59 yards to set up Braunsdorf’s first touchdown.

Bonita Vista went nowhere on its next possession, and Helix got the ball at its 49-yard line after a 31-yard punt.

Next play: Braunsdorf flashed it all. Great vision in the backfield. Stiff armed a defender at the line. Cut right and then upfield. Stutter step and juke another defender heading to the sideline. Tip-toe the sideline. Burst of speed. Score!

I just saw it,” Braunsdorf said. “As soon as I saw it, I hit it hard. Got a stiff arm in there and just continued my run.”

On the Scotties next possession, Braunsdorf had an 18-yard reception and an 11-yard rush. He later added a 12-yard reception and a 15-yard rush.

“He hadn’t showed us a lot in games, but we knew what he could do,” Owens said. “We tell our kids whenever you get that opportunity, you need to take advantage of it.

“He definitely took advantage of his opportunity.”

Owens, however, also correctly pointed out afterward that this was not a great performance by the Highlanders.

A fumble exchange from Baker to Braunsdorf gave the Barons a chance to pull this one out late in the fourth quarter.

Bonita Vista’s Eddie Picazo recovered the fumble at the 29-yard line. Twelve plays later, the Barons were knocking on the door with 1:05 to play when Scott intercepted a fade pass in the end zone to seal the win.

Baker finished with 159 yards on 15-of-22 passing. Only four of his passes fell incomplete, thanks to picks by Jacob Rozar, Lorenso Perry and Cota. The Highlanders’ SCOTT YOUNG had five receptions for 34 yards – all in the first half. Arnold caught four balls for 58 yards, and Scott added two catches for 29 yards.

“Carson didn’t have a great game,” Owens said. “We’ve been relying on him a lot. We knew we were going to have to run the ball more in the second half. It’s imperative we run the ball more in the coming weeks.”

ZEKE NOA was Helix’ leading rusher with 160 yards in the first four games, but the senior standout – an all-section linebacker – was limping on a tender ankle and did not play on offense.

Bonita Vista’s Posada completed 14 of 31 passes for 117 yards, well below his average of 206 yards per game. The Barons were held to 244 total yards by a stingy Helix defense.

Helix had 160 rushing yards and 159 passing yards so the balance was there for the first time this season.

Helix had beaten Bonita Vista the past two seasons by a combined 80-7.

“We did not play good Helix football today,” Owens said. “Our guys stepped up when they needed to on defense and offense. The play by Rashad on the pick at the end was big.

You’ve got to give Bonita Vista credit and Coach (Chris) Thompson credit for putting together a good game plan. We knew they were a better team than 0-4.”

Helix plays host to Steele Canyon next week as it opens defense of its Grossmont Hills League title.

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