East County Sports

Highlanders’ Woody reaches for end zone

Helix's ISAIAH WOODEN is off to the end zone on a punt return during the first half Friday night. / photo by Ramon Scott




By Jim Lindgren



SPRING VALLEY – Using a generous ruler, ISAIAH WOODEN measures 5 feet, 8 inches in height and tips the scale at 165 pounds.

You’d be a fool, however, to underestimate Woody!

With his quickness, prowess, determination, drive and ne’er-ending preparation – this kid is dangerous!

“I play with heart,” Wooden said. “I believe in God. I work hard in practice every day, give 110 percent and stay after practice to get in extra work.”

On a team with several stars and Division I college recruits, Wooden has been the Highlanders’ leading receiver and on Friday was their biggest asset.

At Steele Canyon, Wooden turned on the after-burner on a pair of punt return touchdowns and scored three times overall to lift the Highlanders’ to a 41-7 rout of the Cougars in their Grossmont Hills League opener.

“I liked the second punt return (TD) a little better, but they’re both nice,” said the affable Wooden. “It’s been a while since I’ve broken one (he had one in his sophomore year), so it was really nice to get two. It felt really good.”

Both punt returns were spectacular – as was Wooden’s 11-yard TD catch from CARSON BAKER that gave Helix a 28-0 lead en route to its eighth straight win over Steele Canyon.

The No. 3-ranked Scotties improved to 5-1, 1-0, while Steele Canyon fell hopelessly to 3-3, 0-1.

ISAAC TAYLOR-STUART, a five-star recruit and transfer from St. Augustine, gave Helix a 6-0 lead rushing for 30 yards on three carries to cap a seven-play, 80-yard drive on the Scotties’ first series, capped by a 1-yard TD plunge.

The second quarter belonged to Woody.

On the first play of the period, Wooden fielded a short punt, broke a seemingly sure tackle around the 30-yard and darted through traffic down the left sideline for a 75-yard score.

Three minutes later, after a fumble recovery by CHRISTIAN FLETCHER, Wooden hauled in an 11-yard TD, nimbly getting his feet just inside the back of the end zone on the over-the-shoulder catch.

Helix’s Isaac Taylor-Stuart exults following a touchdown Friday night. / photo by Ramon Scott

On Wooden’s second punt return score, he again darted through several defenders – this time, untouched – for a 64-yard score.

“Just follow my blocks and run,” Wooden said.

MICHAEL SHAWCROFT gave Helix a 35-0 lead with 1:23 to play in the first half, hauling in an easy 12-yard pass from Baker.

Thanks to a 32-yard punt return by Wooden, Helix scored again on its first play of the third quarter to make it 41-0 and forced a running clock from there on.

“Coach KEVIN SMITH does a great job on special teams,” Helix coach ROBBIE OWENS said. “There’s a real emphasis on it. He’s done a great job scouting teams, finding their weaknesses, putting people in the right position to get all he can. It’s fun to watch when they come through like they did.”

In his only play of the second half, Baker handed off to DELSHAWN TRAYLOR, who rambled 28 yards for the touchdown.

Baker finished 7 of 9 passing for 107 yards and two TDs – all in the first half. Traylor then took over at quarterback and completed both of his pass attempts for 11 yards. Traylor also rushed eight times for 53 yards.

In just two quarters, Taylor-Stuart had 68 yards on five carries, plus a 21-yard pass reception.

Helix had pitched three shutouts and had outscored opponents 157-7 in four previous wins. A fourth no-no was spoiled in the fourth quarter on a 54-yard touchdown sprint by Steele Canyon’s JORDAN ANDERSON.

To that point, the Scotties had yielded just 67 yards.  Steele finished with just 122 yards. Helix totaled 276 yards, 204 coming in the first half.

“We did a good job,” Owens said. “When we had the ball, we took advantage of what they gave us.”

If there was a drawback to the Scotties’ big night, it was penalties. Helix was flagged 13 times for 130 yards.

“We have an emphasis on penalties, so we’re not happy about the numbers tonight,” Owens said. “We definitely have to improve there. That will cost us in a close game.”

Helix’s JAYDEN TAUANU’U is credited with a sack Friday night. / photo by Ramon Scott

Helix played for the second straight game without leading rusher Elelyon “Fato” Noa, who is nursing a broken hand in his sophomore season. Taylor-Stuart, with his blazing breakaway speed, answered the bell nicely. Baker added 26 yards and KEVIN OLSEN 22.

The Highlanders’ offense line was simply impressive. The members include LOPAKA ROJAS, ISAAC GONZALEZ, CHRISTOPHER ALVARADO, MATT AVII,  WILLIAM PAYNE, ISAIAH MANN and tight end Shawcroft.

“They’re big and physical and create problems for the defense,” Steele Canyon coach SCOTT LONGERBONE said. “I thought our defense played well, but we gave up too much on mistakes.”

Steele Canyon was playing without multi-talented three-year starter THOMAS FISHBURNE, who took a blow to the head in last week’s huge 52-26 win over Mira Mesa and was not cleared to play on Friday under concussion protocol regulations.

“Losing Fish was brutal,” Longerbone said. “You lose him as a thrower. You lose him as a runner. You lose him as a free safety. You lose him as a punter and kicker.”

HAYDEN ROACH threw for nearly 600 yards and rushed for 525 as a junior at West Hills last year. He took over at QB in his first eligible game after transferring. Gamely, Roach rushed 14 times but netted only 5 yards after four sacks were factored in.

ARTURO TORRES, JAYDEN TAUANUU, Christian and Shawcroft posted the sacks. Christian also had a fumble return.

Other than three on penalties, Steele Canyon recorded only four other first downs the whole night.

RASHAD SCOTT recorded his seventh interception of the season, and it set up a touchdown after a 24-yard return.

“We won the game, but we have a lot to work on,” said Scott, who has committed to SDSU. “We have some personal goals to accomplish.

“It doesn’t matter who’s in front of us, we have to focus on ourselves and keep improving.”

The Scotties, who have now won 37 of their last 38 league games, will get that next opportunity on Friday at home against El Capitan (2-4, 0-1). The Vaqueros were the last team to beat Helix in league play in 2014.

Steele Canyon plays at West Hills (5-1, 1-0). The Wolf Pack is riding a five-game winning streak after beating Valhalla 24-21.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *