East County Sports

Triumph, heartbreak for Highlanders, Noa

Helix's Ezekiel Noa with a determined focus during the Highlanders' win over Rancho Bernardo Friday night. / photo by Christopher Smith - MBA Sports

2016 EAST COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL – SAN DIEGO CIF OPEN DIVISION SEMIFINALS

HELIX 28, RANCHO BERNARDO 10

 

By Bill Dickens

© East County Sports.com

 

LA MESA (11-26-16) — Only a few minutes earlier, before Helix could celebrate a 28-10 San Diego Section Open Division semifinal victory over visiting Rancho Bernardo, the host Helix Highlanders lost one of their key players to an injury before the final whistle.

 

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EZEKIEL NOA rushes around the right side Friday night. / photo by Christopher Smith – MBA Sports

This was a huge setback for the Highlanders as EZEKIEL NOA, last year’s SDCIF Defensive Player of the Year, hobbled to the sidelines after suffering a season-ending knee injury.

 

His father wasn’t ready to write off his son’s season just yet as he took him to the hospital for X-rays.

 

“He made a sharp cut and hurt his ACL,” said ELIAS NOA. “All we can do is pray for the best.”

 

The 6-foot, 225-pound senior who is being recruited by Colorado, Washington State and Boise State, among others, still hopes to play in the postseason for the Highlanders, but the outlook is dim. Results of tests will not be known immediately, but Noa was told by a doctor that he is out for the championship game next Saturday.

 

His injury will likely require surgery and rehabilitation.

 

In the semifinals against Rancho Bernardo, which had won 20 straight games coming into Friday night, Noa rushed for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns on 14 carries. In his equal time on defense, the captain racked up 3 tackles, a pass break-up and a sack.

 

His freshman brother, 5-foot-8, 160-pound ELELYON NOA, gave the Highlanders two players producing more than 100 yards coming out of the Helix backfield. He finished with 101 yards on 14 carries.

 

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Helix senior SCOTTIE YOUNG is tackled by a Rancho Bernardo player. / photo by Christopher Smith – MBA Sports

Junior quarterback CARSON BAKER completed 9 of 17 attempts for 195 yards and a touchdown.

 

That scoring strike went to SCOTTY YOUNG, an aerial that covered 72 yards. It was more than just a nifty catch as he side-stepped six potential tacklers en route to the end zone, giving Helix the early lead. Young, who has a scholarship to Arizona, finished with 6 catches for 122 yards.

 

His initial reverse cutback move left a defender helpless on the turf, as he sprinted to open field.

 

“Scotty is our vocal leader,” noted Baker.

 

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Helix’s EVAN PERKINS reaches up to bring down the ball Friday night. / photo by Antonio McIntyre

This was no one-man show however, as defensive back EVAN PERKINS proved himself worthy as one of East County’s best. He picked off a pass and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown. It was Perkins’ 6th interception of the season.

 

“They wanted to run the ball but we wanted to take that away from them,” Perkins said of the Broncos.

 

And so they did.

 

The ball-hawking Highlanders neutralized Rancho Bernardo’s strategy all evening.

 

LARS LASH, who was an excellent blocker on the offensive side, helped the Highlanders stuff the Bronco’s offensive plans with an interception out of the Helix defensive huddle.

 

“I just do my assignment,” Lash said. “Sometimes it’s on offense and sometimes it’s on defense.

 

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Young makes a reverse cut to leave a Rancho Bernardo defender empty handed. / photo by Antonio McIntyre

“Coach SAM FRIEND has been a special leader for us. We struggle at times but he’s a super coach and we never buckle over.”

 

Helix put the clamps on the versatile RB offense in the first half, nearly stopping every play for little or no gain.

 

“Our goal was to stop their ace running back (Milan Grice),” said Helix head coach ROBBIE OWENS. “We were able to do so all night. We like the results. I’m proud of the work by Sam (Friend, defensive coordinator). Our defense accomplished our goals.”

 

On the offensive side, Owens said, “One of our goals was about getting space for our receivers, and we were able to do that because of our running game.”

 

MATTHIAS LAYTON was 4-for-4 on PATs for Helix.

 

The Highlanders will face Cathedral Catholic in a rematch of a week 4 loss where Helix lost an early 21-0 lead in a 35-28 loss. The two perennial title contenders now have a legitimate championship rivalry. The Scotties will vie for a second-straight Open Division title.

 

The game will be played at Southwestern College’s DeVore Stadium next Saturday at 7 p.m.

 

And the Scotties will have to find a will and a way without their heart and soul leader of the team.

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