East County Sports

Hillers, Norsemen threat real to favored Scotties

Helix's SCOTT YOUNG / photo by Chris Parks




By Bill Dickens and Ramon Scott
© East County Sports.com


EL CAJON (10-5-16) — On paper, the Grossmont Hills League should be a three-team race featuring perennial power No. 5 ranked Helix, No. 10 ranked Grossmont (5-0) and No. 11 ranked Valhalla (5-0).

El Capitan could well have been a contender for the GHL title but quarterback PHOENIX CATES – arguably the hottest passer in the league – suffered a broken leg in last week’s loss to Granite Hills. According to coach RON BURNER, Cates is out for the season.


HELIX – Going into the season, the Highlanders were expected to be the dominant team in the county. Now questions arise whether they can win the league title. The combination of a tough schedule and new system has the Scotties at just 3-2, but every poll still has them higher than their chief rivals. The difference for the Highlanders is that they get both of the other main contenders at home in the final two weeks of the season. Receiver/DB SCOTTIE YOUNG is a mainstay as is linebacker EZEKIEL NOA on defense, while quarterback CARSON BAKER attempts to get the offense on track.

GROSSMONT – The SDSCIF power rankings have the Hillers tied with Helix entering this week and that’s reason enough to consider them a very serious threat for the title.  With the Foothillers hosting Valhalla next week in the other key league-deciding matchup this season, second place may come down to a matchup of Grossmont’s potent and increasingly balanced offense against Valhalla’s staunch Law Firm Defense. The Foothillers formula starts with a win over the Norse, then an upset at Helix on Oct. 28. The combination for Grossmont is triggerman HUNTER GAINES and fleet-footed wide receiver DOMONIQUE GUEVARA. CHRISTOPHER LAETHEM heads up the defense.

VALHALLA – The Norsemen can arguably boast the league’s top defense from 1-to-11 having posted three shutouts and have a strong ground game to keep its stellar unit well rested. So dominant has been the Valhalla defense – like Denver Broncos dominant – that they haven’t had to rely on the wide-open style of their league race opponents. Should Valhalla fall a couple of scores behind in either of those big games, they will have to increase the use of the passing game, which produces just a little more than half of the yardage of the top two. Middle linebacker DYLAN MARSH has 32 tackles, 11 for loss, while JACE MANNING has 28 tackles, 13 for loss and 8 sacks.

STEELE CANYON – Injuries are a factor that will likely keep the Cougars out of contention in what turns out to be one of the county’s toughest circuits. Steele Canyon has an underrated passing offense led by THOMAS FISHBURNE that is also getting support from an improving ground game. SC’s 33-14 loss before the bye at home against Otay Ranch, however, throws caution to the wind whether the Cougs can handle this brutal league schedule. A strong showing, however, including an upset of one of the top 3, could set them up nicely for some playoff success in Division 1.

WEST HILLS – The Wolf Pack didn’t draw the short straw, but the move back to the Hills is detrimental to West Hills’ shot at a league title. Still, the Wolf Pack has to be brimming with confidence with a four-game win streak and just three points separating them from being undefeated. The Wolf Pack can use the experience of league play to build for a potential run at a CIF title in Division 2. West Hills’ power ground and pound attack led by JOVAN BEA and GRIFFIN GUINN can shorten the game to give them a chance to pull off an upset, but have little room for error.

EL CAPITAN – Despite a program-rejuvenating three-game win streak, the key injury to Cates has the Vaqueros scrambling to reshape what was turning out to be the East County’s most improved offense. El Capitan should be expected to be able to make the postseason in Division 2, but may need to win at West Hills and then at home against Steele Canyon after surviving the trial-under-fire opening-string of the big three, two of which (Valhalla and Helix) the Vaqueros get at home. ANTONIO OLIVIERI takes over at QB, but he still has a top target in JAVIER VIDALEZ and workhorse runner CONNOR ROOSA.

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