East County Sports

Matadors run into brick wall behind Eagles’ muleta

GRANITE HILLS' GABE JOHNSTON rushes against Mount Miguel on Friday night. / photo by Ramon Scott




By Jim Lindgren
© East County Sports.com


EL CAJON (10-22-16) — Shortly after Granite Hills dismantled Mount Miguel’s running game in a 36-13 victory, Matadors coach SHAUN McDADE shared this nugget with Granite’s chief KELLAN COBBS:


“That’s the best front four we’ve faced this season,” McDade said. “Nobody had stopped us like that, and that’s including Madison.”


High praise considering Madison is ranked third in the San Diego Section and blanked Mount Miguel 48-0 three weeks ago.


On Friday (Oct. 21) at Valley Stadium, Granite Hills’ defense stymied the Matadors’ vaunted attack, limiting Mount Miguel to minus-24 rushing yards in a key Grossmont Valley League that saw the Eagles (4-4, 2-0) take control of the league race with road games remaining at Monte Vista and El Cajon Valley.



SETH ALLISTER carries the ball for Granite Hills Friday night. / photo by Ramon Scott

Mount Miguel fell to 2-7, 1-2 – though it should be taken into consideration the Matadors’ nonleague schedule was brutally tough.


Two HUGE counter-attack scoring plays also made Senior Night a special one for the Eagles.


After Mount Miguel went up 6-0 in the first quarter, SETH ALLISTER fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the 1-yard line, scooped it up and raced 99 yards for a touchdown and a 7-6 lead.


Midway through the second half, Mount Miguel pulled within 26-13, only to watch GUSTAVO GUTTIEREZ score on an amazing catch-and-run on the next play from 76 yards. Eighteen yards downfield, Guttierez came back to a lobbed pass from JAKE SIEGFRIED, leaped over a defender behind him and pulled the ball off his helmet for the catch and then raced the rest of the way for the highlight TD of the season for the Eagles.


The defender, by the way, was Mount Miguel’s best – stud linebacker CAMERON HANSEN, who leads the Matadors with over 80 tackles.


“That was a great catch by Gustavo,” Cobbs said. “Great concentration and catch and then good speed to close it out at the end.”


Guttierez’ heroics gave the Eagles a 33-13 advantage.


“We tried to answer quickly,” Cobbs said, “and obviously did a good job of that.”



Mount Miguel traps a Granite Hills runner Friday night. / photo by Ramon Scott

The defense held serve from there.


Mount Miguel (2-7, 1-2) had been averaging 202 rushing yards per game, and junior tailback SHEMAR GREENE had 755 yards in seven games. Greene finished with 7 yards on 13 carries.


“He’s a great back,” Cobbs said. “I knew we got after him pretty good, but wow! He’s a difference-maker, and we did a good job of containing him, not letting him get outside. That was a big key for us.”


McDade, again, praised the Eagles’ defensive front. “They did a great job,” he said. “Their front line was extremely physical. We couldn’t match that tonight.”


On called running plays, Mount Miguel gained only 28 yards rushing, including a 17-yard pickup by quarterback BENNY VALADEZ on the Matadors’ opening series.


Eight sacks for minus-52 yards led to the negative overall total.


TYLER GONZALEZ had four of those sacks, including one on the first play of the game to set the tone. “Gonzo” – a beast at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds – now has 11 sacks for the season.


NOAH JOUBERT added a pair of sacks, JACOB YOUNG also had one, and WILL BURTON and KYLE TINNEY combined on another. Burton also had a batted pass at the line and three tackles for loss.


Tinney also had a blocked PAT after Mount Miguel’s first touchdown, and ZACH STORER ended Mount Miguel’s first series with an interception.


ETHAN RAYMOND almost had an interception and did have a key fumble recovery.



Mount Miguel’s RICHARD MOORE reaches for a pass Friday night. / photo by Ramon Scott

RICKY GAMINO, NOAH ESPINOZA, JUSTIN FLOYD and BRENDEN QUILL also were instrumental in the defensive effort.


With the run game going nowhere, Mount Miguel went to the air far more than it wanted, and the Matadors were somewhat successful. Valadez completed 18 of 34 passes for 243 and two touchdowns with the one interception.


RICHARD MOORE caught eight passes for 137 yards, including a 75-yarder moments before hauling in a 10-yard TD pass on a fantastic leaping catch over a defender in the back corner of the end zone.


Teammates MARIO COKER had five receptions for 48 yards, including a terrific over-the-shoulder leaping catch over a defender deep in the left corner of the end zone for a 16-yard score that gave Mount Miguel its only lead at 6-0 with 2:51 left in the first quarter.


“A team like that has a lot of great athletes,” Cobbs said. “They’re going to get a couple big plays. That happens in football.”


The PAT after Coker’s score, however, was blocked by Tinney.



The ensuing kickoff, however, was returned 99 yards by Allister.


Moments later, a high snap sailed over the head of Mount Miguel punter CRISANTO GAMEZ and skipped into the end zone where the Eagles’ SHANE JOHNSON pounced on it for a safety and a 9-6 Granite Hills lead.


On the next play after the ensuing free punt, Siegfried hit Burton on a quick slant pass that resulted in an 18-yard gain. Seven plays later, Siegfried connected with Gonzalez on a swing-and-go pattern for a 14-yard touchdown and a 16-6 Granite advantage.


A sack by Joubert ended Mount Miguel’s next drive, and a short punt followed by a personal-foul penalty gave the Eagles the ball at the 20-yard line. The Eagles stalled, but BRYCE STRICKLAND booted a 35-yard field goal for a 19-6 lead.


After a 3-and-out by Mount Miguel and a punt from the end zone, the Eagles needed just four plays to go up 26-6 on a 4-yard run by Siegfried with 1:15 before intermission.


For those unable to keep up, the first-half scoring recap was:


Mount Miguel scored first.


Granite Hills then tallied five straight times – on a kickoff return, a safety, a pass, a field goal and finally a run (their bread-and-butter scoring option).



Granite Hills carries the ball Friday night. / EastCountySports photo

Penalties by Mount Miguel contributed mightily – eight for 99 yards in the first half alone.


In the first half, Mount Miguel outgained Granite Hills, 127-117, and had 10 first downs to the Eagles’ seven … and trailed by 20 points.


“That’s kind of been the story of the season,” McDade said. “Make a good play. Make a bad play. Score a big TD. Give up a big TD.


“It starts with me. We have to be more disciplined. The kids played hard though. They never gave up and played hard right to the end.”


Granite Hills wound up with 341 total yards. Siegfried was 10 of 17 passing for 152 yards and two TDs, plus a rushing score.



Granite Hills’ Gustavo Gutierrez makes a catch over a Mount Miguel defender Friday night. / photo by Nate Price – Youatplay.com

Guttierez caught three balls for 88 yards, none better than his 76-yard TD. Burton took three receptions for 40 yards, and the kicker – Strickland – added a 31-yard reception late in the game to the 2-yard line. The Eagles went conservative, however, and let the clock run out, rather than pile on more points.


After nonleague losses to Chula Vista, Poway, Valhalla, West Hills and Madison – to go with league losses to Monte Vista and now Granite Hills, Mount Miguel has a bye next week before facing Santana in the regular-season finale, probably needing a victory to make the Division II playoffs.


“We’ll see,” McDade said. “At the end of the day, we have to win our last game. See if we can win one and see what happens.”


Meanwhile, Granite Hills plays next week at Monte Vista before finishing at Madison Avenue-rival El Cajon Valley in search of a consecutive league title and a higher seed in the Division II playoffs.


“(Monte Vista’s) Ron Hamamoto is one of the best coaches in the county,” Cobbs said. “He always has his team ready. We expect a tough game.”

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