East County Sports

Noa rivalry: Helix makes it 20-straight





By Jim Lindgren
© East County Sports.com


LA MESA — EZRIEL “Puka” NOA is the youngest of nine children in his semi-famous family at Helix High. Puka is only 11, a sixth-grader, but one day he hopes to follow in his brothers’ formidable footsteps.

Five, four, maybe even three years from now, the up-and-coming talented youngster wishes to continue what has become a rather remarkable run by the Highlanders. One day down the road, Puka is looking forward to leading Helix past Grossmont for the 20-somethingth time in a row.

As it stands now – thanks to Puka’s older brothers, senior EZEKIEL “Zeke” NOA and freshman ELELYON “Fatto” NOA – Helix has turned away Grossmont 20 straight times after “rallying” for a 45-21 victory on Friday night (Oct. 28) at Jim Arnaiz Field.

On 12 rushes in the first half, Zeke Noa rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns. He carried only one time in the second half – for 1 yard – a strategy made possible because little bro’ Elelyon became the featured back in the second half.


Helix rushes against Grossmont Friday night. / photo by Chris Parks

Fatto finished with 140 yards on 22 carries, including a 1-yard touchdown plunge that sealed the win on the last play of the third quarter.

No. 5-ranked Helix (7-2, 4-0) came into the game averaging a modest 142 rushing yards per game, and Fatto had one game under his belt – an 87-yard performance in a 56-0 win over West Hills the previous week.

The Highlanders were averaging 227 passing yards per game, but quarterback CARSON BAKER threw only 13 times, completing 10 for 80 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown to SCOTT YOUNG.

Helix gained 344 rushing yards against Grossmont.

“The run was there,” Baker said. “When it’s there, you don’t go away from it. We’re known as a passing team, but we really ran well tonight.

“Fatto was awesome. That’s a great player. He’s making some great plays for a freshman. I was joking with Zeke in the second quarter, ‘Your little brother is running better than you.’ ”

No. 8-ranked Grossmont (8-1, 3-1) came into the contest confident it could end the rivalry slide that dates to 1991. The Foothillers were averaging 244 passing yards per game, 198 rushing yards per game and 38.6 points per game. In addition, Grossmont had allowed only 10.7 points per game.

When the ’Hillers went up 21-14 just three minutes into the second quarter, the “Battle for the Musket” trophy appeared attainable.

Not so, said the Noa bros.

After a 29-yard return by JAILEN BAILEY on a short kickoff, Elelyon Noa rushed for 6 yards, 11 yards and 3 yards before Zeke gained 6, 8 and 7 yards for a touchdown and a 21-21 tie.

Trailing 21-14, Helix scored 31 unanswered points while attempting only five passes.

“Our personality and our identity was slinging it down the field,” Helix coach ROBBIE OWENS said. “This was nice seeing the run game go so well.”


Helix’s ELELYON NOA burst through the Grossmont line Friday night. / photo by Chris Parks

Helix shuffled in a number of offensive lineman, who played superbly in the eventual rout – ROBERT HUNTER, MATTEW AVII, PAKA ROJAS, BLAYKE DE LA ROSA, ISAIAH MANN, CHRISTIAN FLETCHER, LONNIE GIBSON, WILLIAM PAYNE, ADRIAN GODINEZ and CHRIS ALVARADO.

“We’re making the skill guys look good,” Hunter said. “And they’re making us look good.”

Grossmont coach TOM KARLO was the quarterback of the last Foothillers’ team to beat Helix in 1991.

Karlo and the Foothillers finished 9-1-1 that year with a first-round playoff loss to Orange Glen. Helix was 8-3-1 after a quarterfinal loss to Point Loma.

Since then, Helix is 20-0 against Grossmont and now owns a 41-18-2 series advantage with eight CIF San Diego Section titles to Grossmont’s one in 1971.

Grossmont was hoping – praying? – that 2016 would be the year.

“It’s two great teams with a lot of talent on both sides,” Karlo said before the game. “It’s a great game for San Diego County. I hope we give the fans the show I think we will.”

For 15 minutes, Grossmont did just that.

The Foothillers’ ANDREW MINK recovered a fumble on the first play of the game, and three plays later Grossmont had a 7-0 lead when HUNTER GAINES connected with JAILEN BAILEY on a 12-yard passing score just 52 seconds into the game.

Helix countered four minutes later, going 50 yards in nine plays and tying the game on a 7-yard scoring strike from Baker to SCOTT YOUNG in the front right corner of the end zone on tight coverage by ANDREW LIRA.

Four minutes later, Helix went up 14-7 after a 6-play, 64-yard drive capped by Zeke Noa’s 2-yard touchdown plunge.


Helix’s QB Carson Baker slides Friday night. / photo by Chris Parks

Grossmont rallied for a 3-play, 80-yard drive to tie it 14-14 a minute later. Gaines hit Bailey for a 38-yard gain before lofting a perfect pass to DOMONIQUE GUEVARA on a 31-yard go-route up the right sideline.

Grossmont’s ANDREW HOLT recovered an ensuing onside kick, but a big stop by Zeke Noa led to a 3-and-out punt.

Early in the second quarter, Grossmont’s LUKE MORSE recovered a fumble at the 35-yard line. Four plays later, Gaines escaped pressure in the pocket, stepped up and threw a bullet to Bailey 20 yards downfield. Bailey caught the ball in stride and streaked the rest of the way for a 52-yard touchdown and a 21-14 Grossmont lead.

“We were in it,” Karlo said. “We easily could have won this game. We were toe-to-toe with them. Everything they got, they had to earn.”

What appeared to be a shootout between two shootout-capable teams turned to Helix’ favor the rest of the way.

MATTHIAS LAYTON made his longest field goal of the season, a 40-yarder, with 19 seconds before halftime to give Helix a 24-21 lead it would not relinquish.

Helix won the second half, 28-0.

Layton booted another field goal – a chippy 24-yarder – to make it 27-21 with 7:11 to play in the third quarter.

On the next play from scrimmage, EVAN PERKINS alertly intercepted a dropped ball at the 25-yard line, shuffled left and scampered the rest of the way for a 35-21 Helix lead after Baker hit Young on a 2-point conversion pass.

After a 3-and-out by Grossmont, Elelyon Noa carried seven times for 31 yards on a drive that put Helix ahead 42-21.

Layton finished the scoring with his third field goal – doubling his season output – a 35-yard perfect kick with 7:01 left to play.

“We just got some momentum running the football, which we hadn’t had all season,” Owens said. “Obviously the pick-6 by Perkins was a huge play. That allowed us to play more conservative on offense.


Helix’s DUCE REYNOLDS rushes against Grossmont. / photo by Chris Parks

“Our coaches did a great job of making adjustments at halftime. They did a great job of getting our guys some rest, keeping them fresh. And Fatto running so well really helped a lot.”

With an interception deep in the Helix zone, Zeke Noa helped the Highlanders pitch a second-half shutout and limit Grossmont’s vaunted offense to 187 passing yards and under 50 yards rushing.

“It was our defense,” Zeke Noa said. “We stepped it up in the second half. Came out with a bang. Came away with a zero (points) in the second half.”

Zeke Noa, by the way, is a 6-foot, 220-pound muscle specimen.

His little brother, Elelyon, is 5-8, 170 pounds and doesn’t look a bit like a Fatto. More so, he looks and runs a lot like San Diego State’s D.J. Pumphrey, college football’s leading rusher.

“It’s a blessing to play with my little brother,” Zeke said. “I love him.”

While Grossmont can still best Helix in overall regular-season wins – it finishes next week at home against West Hills – the Scotties have already assured themselves at least a share of the Grossmont Hills League title heading into next week’s showdown with Valhalla (8-1, 3-1).

They’ve also assured that the musket trophy will remain at Helix for a 25th year.


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