East County Sports

Wolf Pack shooting for sixth-straight

West Hills' NOAH QUIGLEY carries against Serra. / photo by Ramon Scott




By Dave Dickens



SANTEE – The West Hills Wolf Pack may be considered the surprise team of the 2017 East County football season.

While other local teams with winning records may just be performing up to expectations, the Wolf Pack take a five-game winning streak into their toughest game of the season-to-date Friday night when the 20th-ranked Steele Canyon Cougars (3-3) come to West Santee at 7.

After West Hills lost its opener at home to what has now been proven to be a decent cast in (El Centro) Southwest, the Pack has taken defense to heart and mixed in a beautifully controlled offense run by unheralded junior JORDIN YOUNG.

The Wolf Pack has gone 3-0 against local foes Santana, Mount Miguel and last week’s victim, Valhalla.

Steele Canyon senior THOMAS FISHBURNE

And when West Hills (5-1) has been in tight games over the last few weeks, it has found that a winning culture which has developed around the program off of last year’s stunning JV championship, combined with the mix of the veteran leadership, has given them the confidence to make the winning plays in the second half.

Last week, the Pack won a back-and-forth thriller capped by a gadget touchdown when Young caught a TD pass back across the field from CADE WEAVER on a play designed to look like a counter sweep.

The computers rate the Cougars a decent favorite, as they are 5th in Division 2, while the Pack currently sits squarely on playoff bubble despite all their success so far. The Cougars have played toughest schedule out of the D2 contenders.

Expect Steele Canyon quarterback THOMAS FISHBURNE to be back after missing last week following a concussion in the Cougars’ win over Mira Mesa two weeks ago.

He was forced to miss the showdown game with Helix and the Cougs could get little going without him.

“Losing ‘Fish’ was brutal, not only as a thrower, but as a runner, free safety, kicker and punter,” Steele Canyon head coach SCOTT LONGERBONE said last week.

With him in, the Cougars will be a tough match for the Pack, even at home.

Steele Canyon’s defense may also rate slightly higher than West Hills’ despite some strong performances on that side of the ball for the Wolf Pack, as well.

West Hills stunned the Cougars last season in Spring Valley, so this one has the makings of an upset… WEST HILLS, 27-24.


No. 16 GROSSMONT (4-2, 1-0 GHL) at VALHALLA (2-4, 0-1 GHL), 7 – Last season, both teams came in 6-0, but Grossmont won, 48-13.

Now, with more than half of the season complete, the Orange Nation finds itself down in the ranks of Division 1, from number 11 last year to number 18 this season.

Still, despite being rated a considerable favorite over the Norsemen in this one, the Foothillers will need to focus on the task at hand after Valhalla showed improvement on offense in the loss at West Hills.

Meanwhile, the Hillers’ offense seems to have matured a just the right time.

Grossmont sophomore quarterback JAMIE ODOM acc0unted for 350 yards of total offense last week in a rout of El Capitan.

Odom has thrown for 1,280 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. He is good with his footwork, as well. with 38
carries for 194 yards and three touchdowns.

Senior ANDREW LIRA led the defense with his 41-yard interception return down the left sideline, as the Hillers broke open what was a close game in the first half.

Valhalla put together 230 yards of total offense last week against the Wolf Pack and led midway through the fourth quarter.

In fact, the Norsemen were one play away from the victory, having the West Hills in LW in a 4th-and-13 at midfield, but the Pack converted on the game-winning drive.

Sophomore fullback KEGAN BAKER had a couple of touchdown dives in the loss last week.

The Hillers’ leading rusher is none other than the same leading rusher as last year, SHEVELL STERLING, JR., who has 84 carries for 512 yards and 9 TD’s. He had 118 yards last win in the win over El Cap.

Grossmont also touts a stellar defense led by team sack-leading DL JULIAN SANDERLIN, who has posted10 sacks in 6 games, 40  total tackles, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble with one heck of an attitude of a team with something still to

Valhalla started the season with a bang beating Scripps Ranch, 33-20, and two games later knocking off
Mount Miguel on the road, 24-14.

Now the Norsemen are on a 3 game losing skid and need to in reality try and win out, including over Helix just to get a home game in the first round of the D1 playoffs.

The last time Valhalla beat Grossmont was 2015, when the Norse won, 32-21, at Valhalla.

With the Norsemen defense anchored and focused, Valhalla will have to try and slow a Grossmont team that is averaging 40 points per game… GROSSMONT, 31-17.

MORSE (3-3, 0-0 Eastern) vs. (16) CHRISTIAN (5-1, 1-0 Eastern) (at Granite Hills Stadium), 6:30 – BRAD JEREMIAH, of the Patriots, passed for a section record-tying 8 TD passes last week against Mission Bay and now has 30 touchdowns in just six games.The CHS record is 31, held by Brad’s uncle, DANIEL JEREMIAH.

Brad Jeremiah is basically the county leader in every passing statistic.

The senior has completed over 70 percent of his passes for 2,133 yards.

Senior JESSE MATTHEWS has a team0leading 36 catches for 570 yards and eight TDs, while sophomore ALONZO RICHARDSON has 27 catches for over 500 yards and seven touchdowns this season.Junior ALEXANDER GONZALEZ had Alexander Gonzalez has 583 total yards from scrimmage and a team-high 11 receiving touchdowns.

This game looms importance in terms of not only the Eastern League championship, but the D2 playoffs as well.

The Pats have played the weakest schedule of current D2 contenders and can’t afford a loss to a team behind them in the rankings given their precarious position of 10th in the latest playoff rankings.

Morse features all-section performers MARTELL IRBY, who has rushed for over 1,000 yards already this season, and TIM PATRICK, as well as, former Helix standout A.J. VILAYSANE.

The trio is certainly going to keep the Patriots defenders – led by senior C.J. KIRWAN and junior GARRETT ROSENTHAL – on the move for four quarters.

The Tigers fell to a good-looking Mira Mesa team, 28-2, last Friday.

The Patriots won last year’s meeting at Morse, 37-27, and can’t afford a loss here… CHRISTIAN, 35-24.


SANTANA (3-4, 0-1 GVL) at MONTE VISTA (3-3, 1-0 GVL) – The Sultans won a wild one last year in Santee, 46-40, behind JOSH OEDEWALT’s 385 yards and 5 TDs.

Monte Vista’s JAHMON MCCLENDON, the East County’s leading rusher, had 258 yards and 3 TDs in that one.

Last year’s game feature 6 plays of 50+ yards or more, and Friday night could prove to have more in the offing.

McClendon was hard at work last week, as well, rushing for 168 yards in just over two quarters of work, as the Monarchs blanked Mount Miguel, 35-0, on Homecoming.

Meanwhile, the Sultans allowed over 400 rushing yards in a 40-10 loss to Granite Hills at home.

Santana’s offensive progression has been slowed by a lack of continuity in the running game.

Keeping the backs healthy has made it difficult to establish a good balance. When they’ve featured one of their backs for more than one game, Santana has put together a few good games on the ground.

The Sultans could get some returning help from those injuries this week at running back.

The Monarchs won at Mar Vista earlier this season, while the Sultans lost at Mar Vista, so… MONTE VISTA, 38-27.

MOUNT MIGUEL (2-5, 0-1) (-9) at EL CAJON VALLEY (1-5, 0-0) – Matadors’ senior quarterback MUGABE MILLER went down with an injury last week on the first play of the second quarter of the Matadors’ loss at Monte Vista.Mount Miguel finished with under 50 yards for the game after the Monarchs were able to key on SHEMAR GREENE in the backfield and the visitors’ offensive plans had to be scrapped on the fly.

The likely change in philosophy with Miller sidelined closes gap for the El Cajon Valley Braves’ chances this week, as the underdog hosts may end up in a ground battle with the Matadors.

The Braves managed just 80 yards of total offense last week versus Chula Vista, as they were down 28-0 early, before making a strong showing for the remainder in a 40-20 home loss.

Braves senior OMAR MAHMOUD first sack last week.

El Cajon Valley quarterback DEANDRE KELMON threw for two touchdown passes last week, hitting MICHAEL MALONE and DARREL DAVIS for scores.

An upset by the Braves could likely clinch them a playoff spot in Division 4.

Meanwhile, the Matadors can’t afford a loss to a lower-ranked opponent, as they currently sit in ninth place in Division 3.

While Mount Miguel is a considerable favorite, the circumstances level the playing field a bit… MOUNT MIGUEL, 26-13.

GRANITE HILLS (4-2) (-6) at HILLTOP (3-3) (@Southwestern College) – KEYVON MARTIN, a sophomore transfer from Helix, rushed for 186 yards and 2 TDs in his varsity debut last week, as the Eagles rushed for over 400 yards in a 40-10 win over Santana.The Lancers are ranked 4th in D3, and are ranked ahead of local like the Matadors and Sultans.

Hilltop is led by senior RB Jeremiah Rivera and senior QB Daniel McPherren.

If the Eagles defense performs like last week against the Sultans, Granite should control this one as expected.

Still, the Lancers have a two-game winning streak coming into this one and have played a decent schedule, although they had a bye last week.

Granite Hills has had its struggles away from home, but although this one is in the South Bay, the contest will be held at Southwestern College, giving it a big-game neutral site feel.

The Eagles defense has 12 sacks by a combined 12 players, a true testament to there depth on D… GRANITE HILLS, 35-21.

EL CAPITAN (2-4,0-1) at (2) HELIX (5-1, 1-0) (time change, 6) – ISAIAH WOODEN was a self-touting profit, nearly predicting his bust-out game of the season before he took his turn in the Highlander spotlight with 3 touchdowns last week in the win at Steele Canyon.
Wooden had a pair of 60-yard punt returns for touchdowns and a receiving touchdown as Helix cruised in the Hills League opener.Helix RB ELELYON “FATO” NOA has missed the last two games with a broken hand, but the Scotties run game hasn’t missed a beat.

Helix has run up such big leads of late, coach ROBBIE OWENS has started to insert QB DELSHAWN TRAYLOR to keep his star signal caller CARSON BAKER rested and healthy for the remainder of league play at the postseason.

El Capitan’s ‘D’ played very well in the first half last week, trailing Grossmont late in the half by just a 9-7 count. CHRIS MCDONOUGH and crew kept the Lakesiders within striking distance entering the second half despite the lopsided final score.

They’ll need that same effort this week to keep this game close through intermission.

From 1986-to-the present day Burner-era, El Capitan has produced quality players and people that played with a lot of heart.

Bottom line, last Friday the Vaqueros were beaten, but not beaten down, as they did play their hearts out, but lost to a quality opponent in the Grossmont Foothillers, and assigning the team their first loss in league play.

It is still unclear if starting QB WICK HAUSER is going to be available, which the team could definitely utilize.

This would also be key for fill-in QB/DE ANTONIO OLIVIERI, as he could go back to being an asset as full-time defensive end and other defensive packages, as well as, his tight end spot.

The last time El Cap defeated the Highlanders was in November of 2014 when the Vaqueros reached the D3 finals and went 14-1 that year.

They defeated Helix in 2014 at El Cap, 24-17, but have been clobbered the last two years by Helix. The Vaquero defense did.

Helix is ranked 17 th in the state after pillaging the “Fish”-less Cougars.

Not only do the Highlanders have some of the best players in the land but how good could they be without fantastic scouting and coaching.

Of course we all know about the golden years of JIM ARNAIZ, then DONNIE VAN HOOK and TROY STARR, but Owens and his staff have been following in those footsteps.

The last time these two teams met was last year in week 7, and hopefully for El Cap, it will not the same end result.

Key starters for the Highlanders will be Baker, who has 16TDs to 3 interceptions and almost 1,200 yards passing, while the team leader in receiving is Wooden with 19 receptions for 409 yards and 5 TDs.

Senior WR RASHAD SCOTT, who is bound for San Diego State next season, had 15 receptions for 167 yards, 5 TDs on offense.

By the numbers as they say… HELIX, 38-16.

MOUNTAIN EMPIRE (2-3) at HOLTVILLE (3-3) – The Red Hawks’ bus broke down and Mountain Empire was 30 minutes late to Anza.

Anza jumped on the early opportunity to take a 13-0 lead, however, the Red Hawks crushed from that point on, winning, 44-13, as GABRIEL HYDORN passed for 2 TDs and rushed for 2 TDs.

DALLAS PRINCE bobbled the opening kickoff resulting in a turnover like he had just gotten off the bus, so to speak.

He turned it around, however, with a kickoff return for a touchdown later in the contest, as well as an interceptions.

Tight end SAWYER ERNSBARGER had a touchdown, a sack and a fumble recover the Mountain Empire. WYATT MANN also had a big touchdown reception for Mountain Empire.

The Vikings are especially prone to the run, grinding it out at a 5-to-1 run-to-pass ratio, as they feature 2 RBs with over 500 yds each, and the pair have combined for 14 TDs.

The computer rankings make this one practically a toss-up, but we side with can’t even whisper the H-word around here… MOUNTAIN EMPIRE, 28-21.

WARNER (1-5) at FOOTHILLS CHRISTIAN (5-2) – The Knights have won 5-straight, as they spoiled Horizon Prep’s home debut last week as DANIEL LYYJOKI had two TD runs and HUNTER NICKELL added an interception.
The Warner ‘Cats scored a season-high 24 points last week, but have been outscored 200-36 this season.

This one is no contest… FOOTHILLS CHRISTIAN, 39-12.


Leave a Reply

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