East County Sports

Highlanders’ sharks feast on Saints’ chum

Helix and Saints in action Friday night. / photo by Antonio McIntyre

Helix’s Isaac Taylor-Stuart with Saints’ Ike Hall (8) and JR Justice following the game.




By Jim Lindgren

Special to EastCountySports.com


SAN DIEGO – Richard Sanchez is one of the truly great strategists in the San Diego Section. The veteran St. Augustine coach spends countless hours each week scheming to exploit and beat his next opponent – and usually succeeding.

Sanchez spent most of this week scratching his head – as most coaches do trying to prepare for Helix – and ultimately found no answers on Friday night as the Highlanders handed the Saints a 35-7 defeat in front of a large, rowdy crowd at Mesa College.

Helix’s ISAIAH WOODEN runs through St. Augustine Friday night. / photo by Antonio McIntyre

“We put their guys on the depth chart with heights and weights and experience and compare personnel in trying to find the right plays,” Sanchez said before the game. “We didn’t match up very well.

“They’re so deep and talented at every position. They’re scary. They have sharks everywhere. It was Shark Week for us.”

The Scotties’ sharks include ISAAC TAYLOR-STUART, a five-star recruit being heralded as the fastest prep player in the country. A guy who rushed for 645 yards and seven touchdowns last year … for St. Augustine.

Taylor-Stuart and RASHAD SCOTT, who is committed to SDSU, form perhaps the best pair of cornerbacks in the county, and both played well against one of the best receivers in the state in JR Justice, the son of former major league baseball star David Justice.

Justice caught eight balls for 97 yards, but the No. 3-ranked Highlanders (3-1) limited St. Augustine (2-3) to just one touchdown, a highlight-reel 25-yard grab by Justice in the back of the end zone against Scott.

“JR got a couple of big plays, but I thought we played really well on defense,” Owens said. “The line played really well, and we bottled up their running game most of the game.”

MICHAEL SHAWCROFT had a key fourth-quarter interception for the Scotties, and he also blocked a pass on the Saints’ second play of the game.

Taylor-Stuart almost had an interception in the second quarter. At tailback, he rushed 11 times for 67 yards and scored the final touchdown on a 5-run with 0:25 left in the third quarter.

“I knew going against my old team, I needed to score,” Taylor-Stuart said. “And that was fun. It definitely was a different experience. I didn’t really imagine this happening, being on the other side of the ball, but it was really fun.”

Justice said playing against his former teammate was fun. “It was a little weird, but fun. We’ve been friends since sixth grade.

St. Augustine makes a reception despite the defending of Helix’s MICHAEL SHAWCROFT. / photo by Antonio McIntyre

“We put up a good fight, but having seven starters out really hurt.”

Sophomore tailback ELELYON “Fato” NOA set the tone early, rushing for his first two TDs of the season in the first half. Noa finished with 12 carries for 84 yards.

Another shark, CARSON BAKER played well, throwing for 186 yards on 10-of-16 attempts. Scott caught four of those for 38 yards. Taylor-Stuart hauled one in for 30 yards.

ISAIAH WOODEN nabbed two balls for 84 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown on the first play of the game.

“We wanted to come out fast, and that’s what we did,” Scott said. “You know, we scored on the first play of the game. I’ve gotta give it up to my teammates. They really played their hearts out tonight.”

Taylor-Stuart returned the opening kickoff 29 yards to the 30-yard line.

And the Highlanders went deep.

Deep downfield Wooden hauled in a perfectly thrown ball by Carson and raced untouched into the end zone for a 70-yard TD just 21 seconds into the game.

After Helix forced a three-and-out, the Scotties drove 59 yards in seven plays and went ahead 13-0 when Noa got a great block from WILLIAM PAYNE and roared 16 yards up the middle for the score. KEATON CHASE’s PAT kick hit the right upright but he made three other on the night.

“We ran the ball really well,” Owens said. “And when we run the ball well, Carson always has a good game.”

Saints answered with a 10-play, 71-yard drive, highlighted by Justice’s terrific TD catch and it was 13-7 with 1:22 to play in the first quarter.

Noa scored again on a 3-yard scamper with 4:02 left in the half and, after Baker tossed to TERRANCE TOLBERT for a 2-point conversion, the Scotties took a 21-7 lead into intermission.

Helix lines up on offense Friday night. / photo by Antonio McIntyre

Helix forced another three-and-out on Saints’ first possession of the second half, and the Highlanders took a 28-7 lead after a four-play, 45-yard drive was capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Baker to Scott at 9:04 in the third quarter.

It was Scott’s fourth TD reception of the season, and Baker’s 11th scoring pass.

Owens said the key to game was “establishing the line on both sides of the ball.”

Indeed. Offensive linemen LOPAKA ROJAS, ISAAC GONZALEZ, CHRISTOPHER ALVARADO, MATT AVII and Payne were dominant, providing Baker with ample pocket time and opening huge gaps for Noa and Taylor-Stuart.

On the other side, Helix rotated in a number of linemen, and they were outstanding. The list includes FLETCHER CHRISTIAN, LOUIS BECKER, ISAIAH MANN, ARTURO TORRES, JACOB GIBSON, Avii and Payne.

Noa also got a few licks in at linebacker, and Shawcroft had two of the biggest plays on defense.

Helix had 347 total yards to St. Augustine’s 253. Baker was especially effective in the first 30 minutes. At that point he was 9 of 11 for 174 yards and two TDs.

“We knew we were playing a good team,” Baker said. “Their defense is strong. But offensive line made things easy for us.

“The receivers played well too, and the coaches did a great job of getting us ready for a tough team.”

Helix had been ranked No. 1 but lost to Lancaster Paraclete 23-6 in the Honor Bowl in Week 2.

After a bye, Helix shutout Cathedral Catholic 39-0 last week and knocked the halo off the Saints on Friday.

Cathedral beat Helix twice last year, including the Open Division championship game. St. Augustine lost to Helix in the 2015 Open Division title game and suffered a heartbreaking loss to Madison in the Division I final last year.

Helix attacks the Saints offensive line Friday night. / photo by Antonio McIntyre

“Our guys played hard,” Owens said, “coming off the bye week and beating Cathedral and Saints. Those are two very good football teams.”

Making those matchup problems Sanchez spoke about even more difficult was the fact Saints was playing without seven injured starters, including leading rusher Deandre Daniels (291 yards), who injured his ankle last week in a win over Otay Ranch.

“On the offensive line, it seems like we have a new guy in there every play,” Sanchez said. “I’ve got an offensive line coach I have to talk off the cliff every week.”

Oddly, Helix and St. Augustine hadn’t met in a regular-season game since 2004 and only six previous times overall, including a 44-30 Helix win in the Open Division final in 2015. Helix now owns a 5-2 record over St. Augustine. Their first tango was a win by Helix in 1951.

Helix is slated to play host to Bonita Vista (0-5) next week before opening Grossmont Hills League play at Steele Canyon.






Helix        13 8 14 0 – 35

St. Augustine 7 0  0 0 – 7

H – Wooden 70 pass from Baker (Chase kick)

H – Noa 16 run (kick failed)

SA – Justice 25 pass from Thomas (Bazzi kick)

H – Noa 3 run (Tolbert pass from Baker)

H – Scott 15 pass from Baker (Chase kick)

H – Taylor-Stuart 5 run (Chase kick)

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