East County Sports

Eastern Playbill for Patriots, Hornets

Christian's Austin Miller, Cody Boston and Javier Jimenez. / photo by Ramon Scott




By Dave Dickens 



EL CAJON – This one has top-notch drama written all over it.

The Christian Patriots stood directly in the way of the Lincoln Hornets last season, winning a regular season matchup that decided the Eastern League championship in mid-October, then eliminating their new-found rival in the San Diego CIF Division 3 semifinals in late November.

This year, according to the experts, the Hornets are the ones in the way of the Patriots’ hopes at the league crown.

Lincoln (6-1, 2-0) visits Christian (6-1, 2-0) at Granite Hills High’s Valley Stadium Friday night at 7 and have to be considered the favorite, given the teams’ standing in the current computer rankings and various polls around the county.

In fact, most of the media polls have the Hornets firmly in the lower half of the top ten, while the computers mostly have them around No. 15.

The Hornets certainly pass the eye test coming off a huge win over Mission Bay and the Bucs have pretty much destroyed all of their opponents except a formidable Point Loma squad, which was the only team that could beat them, and even that one was a two-point thriller.

Christian senior JESSE MATTHEWS. / photo by Ramon Scott

This will be a really great test for the Patriots as to how far they will or can go in the playoffs.

It’s just too bad these two won’t get a postseason rematch this time around, as Christian has moved up to Division II this year, while Lincoln is still in Division 3, where it currently sits as a likely top-four seed.

Lincoln was defeated by the Patriots 35-17 at their homecoming last year at Vic Player Stadium.

The Hornets are led by QB Asante Hartzog, who is 76-for-142 for 1,539 yards and 19 touchdowns and 3 picks.

Lincoln RB Kenton Sims has  85 carries for 856 yards and 14 TDs this season. Two games ago against Scripps Ranch, he had 5 carries for 231 yards.

Former Grossmont Foothiller WR Jailen Bailey has 21 receptions for 561 yards and 8 TDs with the Hornets after an off-season transfer.

Defensively, Charles Hicks leads the way for Lincoln with a total of 92 tackles, a fumble caused and a fumble recovered.

Lincoln looks very strong, speedy and disciplined.

But the Patriots have history in their favor, even if it is just from last season.

After Christian stunned the Hornets in front of the Homecoming crowd, they were able to outlast Lincoln in the D3 semifinals in the rematch back in El Cajon in a thriller, 35-34.

We all know how fantastic QB BRAD JEREMIAH has been all season, but even though they tamed the Morse Tigers, the Tigers were able to figure the Patriots out and almost won.

Jeremiah had a terrific game in the playoff against Lincoln last Nov., completing 15-of-25 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns.

To beat the Hornets the Patriots will have to play mistake-free ball.

Jeremiah is 171 of 241 for 2,277 yards, with 31 TDs and 4 picks this season.

Christian RB ALEXANDER GONZALEZ has  24 carries for 150 yards, while JAVIER JIMENEZ has 20 carries for 149 yards and 3 TDs, although the Patriots are not much of a run-first team.

Christian WR JESSE MATTHEWS has 37 catches for 580 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Gonzalez has 42 receptions for 478 yards 12 TDs, as one of Jeremiah’s favorite targets.

The Christian defense also has 11 sacks and 6 picks as a team.

Renown videographer C.J. KIRWAN is Christian’s second-leading tackler and has produced 50 stops, while also recording a pair of sacks this season. The man could and would edit his own highlight reel with all the material he has already this season.

The Pats were blown out by SFC at home for their lonely loss.

We knew this portion of the season would become more competitive, but with the coaching and talent, this one goes to… CHRISTIAN, 34-32.


WEST HILLS (5-2, 1-1 GHL) at (2) HELIX (6-1, 2-0 GHL) – These two teams met last year in week 9 in a relatively similar situation, so a battle of these two top-tier teams continues as West Hills travels to Helix (6-1), which is ranked 2nd in the section.

Last year, this game was played at the Smurf field in Santee and this year the Scotties are licking their chops as they play them on their home turf. Helix beat West Hills 56-0 last year at the Smurf field.

The Wolf Pack snapped their five-game winning streak last week against a special teams “Tsunami” by the Steele Canyon Cougars’ special teams.

Helix senior ISAAC TAYLOR-STUART scores against El Capitan. / photo by Antonio McIntyre

West Hills coach CASEY ASH did give credit where credit was due as he stated that Steele Canyon was a good football team.

The Wolf Pack definitely need to clean up the special teams play as Helix will try and exploit that weakness if it is not taken care of.

There were a few bright spots, as West Hills got 46 rushing yards from TYSON COURTNEY, 42 yards on the ground from RB AUSTIN DILL, and 45 rushing yards from QB JORDIN YOUNG, who was also 8 of 20 passing for 67 yards and no picks.

Look for Wolf Pack MLB ZACK BELL, who had fumble recovery and forced fumble against the Cougars, and teammate PEDRO LOZANO, who had a sack last week.

They could be the key to rattling Helix QB CARSON BAKER, which will not be easy behind LOPAKA ROJAS and the Highlanders’ front.

The Scotties are coming off yet another big triumph over the struggling El Cap Vaqueros, 58-7.

The 2nd-ranked Scotties just continue to roll.

Although Baker threw 5 touchdowns – all in the first half – against the Vaqueros, defensive stalwart MICHAEL SHAWCROFT hauled in one of the more spectacular touchdowns for the first score of the game, and had a few great runs as well.

He has 3 TDs on the season and has developed into an offensive threat with so much attention spread to Helix’s plethora of options.

Right now, it’s hard to stop the high-scoring Highlanders.

Baker now has 21 touchdown passes for the season and 6 different receivers caught TDs last week.

Although the Pack has improved over last year, the nod goes to… HELIX, 49-11.


EL CAPITAN (2-5, 0-2 GHL) at VALHALLA (2-5, 0-2 GHL) – The Vaqueros were blown out 58-7 by Helix last week, but they are still hopeful that this would be the best timing for the return of starting QB WICK HAUSER and WR YAPHET YOKLEY, to hopefully help El Cap win the last 3 games and squeeze into the playoffs.

The Vaquero defense has been stellar at times, but mostly just good, and usually keeps the Vaqueros in a contest through the first half.

Believe it or not there were some interesting and exciting plays as RB/DB CONNOR RUSSA threw a long pass to CHASE LOVATO to set up the next play, a 30 yard TD pass from Roosa to Lovato in the game against Helix.

El Capitan senior ANTONIO OLIVIERI / photo by Billy Ortiz

The Vaqueros are 2-5 but have had a very tough schedule.

The Vaquero offense needs to give the defense more time to rest.

The Vaqueros line up with the Norsemen pretty well this year on paper.

El Cap skipper RON BURNER has tried so many different schemes it may pay off in this one.

For Valhalla, this is a must win as well. After all, it’s Homecoming.

Valhalla has fell down the ranks from No. 11 earlier this season down to No. 18 in Division I after losing to the high-powered Grossmont Hiller machine last week despite a staunch defensive effort in the first half.

Although the Norsemen could win out, they still are guaranteed a playoff spot because they compete in Division I.

Last week the Norsemen played toe-to-toe with the Hillers right up until the 4th quarter.

The Norsemen and Hillers combined for six TDs.

The Norsemen will need every point they can score, and the kicking game must be cleaned up.

The Norsemen did block a punt last week as big JOSH McNISH-HEIDER broke through and blocked a Foothiller punt, recovered it and scooped it up.

The key for Valhalla to win this one is to win the turnover battle and take care of the football.

This one will be interesting, as Valhalla has won the last two meetings, including 31-6 in Lakeside last year, but look  for an  upset, as Ron Burner’s “How Bout Them VAQUEROS” … EL CAPITAN, 27-20.


(19) STEELE CANYON (4-3, 1-1 GHL) at (17) GROSSMONT (5-2, 2-0 GHL) – At this point of the season, these type of matchups are key for playoff seedlings and possible home field advantage.

Steele Canyon appears to be firmly entrenched to host a first-round home game, but could still move into a bye with some late-season success and some help.

Grossmont, meanwhile, is trying to move up to gain a bye in Division I, although a first-round home game would be a certain consolation.

Grossmont’s NOAH CRESS

Oh, and there’s just a certain little thing up ahead called the Grossmont Hills League championship, in which Grossmont High would need to prevail here in order to even think about playing for the Musket with a circuit patch on the line in an anything-can-happen scenario next Friday night at home against Helix.

These two teams are very similar, high scoring with fantastic special teams play, and just all-around solid teams.

The computers will give Grossmont the advantage as they are the home team.

We are sure to see coach SCOTT LONGERBONE use his new “Tsunami” and release his speedsters on the Grossmont punt and kickoff teams.

Look for key special teamer ROBERT WHITEHEAD to come up big again and OLB DAVID “COWBOY” LIPSCOMB.

You can always depend on true athlete, QB/K/FS/P THOMAS FISHBURNE .

Based on the speed and quickness Longerbone has witnessed by his squad this year, it seemed to come together and worked so well, inspiring a 21-3 lead last week against West Hills by scoring three touchdowns in just over two minutes late in the first half.

Fishburne can pin you back deep, he’s money on the PAT or field goal, he makes touchdown saving tackles, he can with a race to the end zone and provides pin-point passing.

Grossmont is also a complete team, starting with the every game-improving young sophomore QB JAMIE ODOM, who is 80-of-156 for 1,445 yards, with 14 TDs and nine picks.

Also, Jamie is pretty nifty with his foot work, as he has scrambled for 50 carries and 247 yards, while his rushing partner, slithering RB SHEVELLE STERLING JR. has 105 carries for 682 yards and 12 TDs.

Last year, the 41-0 Hiller road win was revenge for SCs comebacks in ’15, when the Cougars made two big rallies to beat Grossmont, once in the regular season, on a monster comeback propelled by MIKEL OLIVER’s blocked punt and return for a touchdown, and later in the playoffs on another road rally by the Cougs in La Mesa.

In last year’s regular season game ANDREW LIRA had an interception, COOPER ZOELLNER had a sack, and JOSH MOALA had 6 receptions, including a TD

Sterling had 170 yds and 4 TDs against Valhalla last week, as the Hillers’ offense is averaging 42 ppg, including nearly 55 ppg over the last three weeks, all wins.

In SC’s 28-10 win at West Hills, NATHANIEL GORDEN and PERRY STEELE bother scored touchdowns.

Lipscomb started in place of for injured star AMIR HARRIS and had a sack and a recovery for touchdown of a punt block by Whitehead.

This should be a track meet… STEELE CANYON, 37-34.


GRANITE HILLS (5-2, 1-0) at MOUNT MIGUEL (3-5, 0-1) –  The Granite Hills Eagles should be able to win the Grossmont Valley League title with just 3 games left and the toughest opponent they play at home, Monte Vista next week, they just need  to buckle in, stay healthy and play one game at a time.

Last week against a competitive Hilltop team the Eagles came out a little flat, not to mention missed two PATs and a short field goal and a two point conversion.

That is 7 points ladies and gentlemen. In a CIF game, you probably lose in the first round. The Eagles would seem slated for a first-round game at home in the Division 2 playoffs for the time being.

Coach KELLEN COBBS may be focusing on special teams, kicking in particular this week.

Luckily the defense played tough last week, in the red zone in particular as the big man WILLIAM BURTON William came up real big for a safety, also causing Hilltop to settle two other times for a field goal as they were stuffed by that tough goal line Eagle defense.

Granite Hills senior OL EVAN DENNEY

Dual threat QB JAKE SIGFRIED will definitely look to find a hole to run through as his running ability would be more of the better recipe then his arm as Mount Miguel DB SANTINO PACHECO will be daring Jake to throw, however with the size and athletic ability of Burton, you probably don’t see the passing game ever being shut down.

Not to mention the Helix transfer KEYVON MARTIN as another speedster out of the Eagle backfield along with RB TYLER GONZALEZ.

The rushers off the edge for the Eagles and the high powered offense that also includes WR CHRIS OSTRENG will be a tall order for the Mount Miguel Matadors.

The Matadors were gifted at the beginning of the year by the scheduling gods, having 4 home games in a row.

The Matadors didn’t capitalize like they could have, as they were 1-3.

They won 2 on the road, including blowing out El Cajon Valley, on a four-game road swing, even without the engine that makes the Matadors go QB MUGABE MILLER, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury.

RB SHEMAR GREEN has been the go to guy, however, now it remains a game-time decision whether Miller will be ready or QB/WR ERIK GRAHAM might have to go, but he did play ok against ECVHS, going 5-of-15 for 94 yards and 2 TDs.

Graham also has a rushing touchdown and 92 yards with his legs.

The Matadors have played a lot of close games and almost beat West Hills.

The Eagles won this one 36-13 last year at home, as Siegfried had 2 TD passes and a TD run

Gonzalez was dominant with 4 1/2 sacks, 12 tackles and a touchdown reception.

Granite Hills limited Mount Miguel to -6 rush yards in the tile, but the Eagles allowed Hilltop almost 200 yards rushing last week.

Greene only had 14 yards in the game last year, but scored 5 touchdowns versus El Cajon Valley last week.

The Eagles can beat you in the trenches with the size, speed, talent, and veterans… GRANITE HILLS, 28-23.


MONTE VISTA (4-3, 2-0) at EL CAJON VALLEY (2-5, 0-1) – Monte Vista head coach RON HAMAMOTO won his 214th career game last week in the win over Santana, 24-17, as he moved into 7th place on the all-time section victories list.

Monte Vista is better than its record shows and has quite a bit of talent.

RB JAHMON McCLENDON has been the most important part of Hamamoto’s offense.

Last week, he amassed 186 yards on 35 carries 2 TDs and an interception last week against the Sultans.

Monte Vista junior SERGIO CORTEZ runs with the ball against Santana last Friday. / photo by Ramon Scott

He had been breaking school records all year.

CHRISTIAN DE LA CRUZ and GERARDO ARRELLANO have been paving the way for their runners all year and never forget about defensive standout DE BLAKE SCHMIDT.

Coach Hamamoto will definitely use his offensive line and heavy dose of running to wear down the Braves’ defensive front, as the Monarchs tune up for possible Valley League championship game versus Granite Hills next week.

Monte Vista senior ELSHADAI LEVI had a TD run and a sack last week against Santana.

El Cajon Valley has had such an up and down season.

The Braves lost their coach early on in the season and have since had interim head coach and Vice Principal NICK WILLIAMS at the helm.

The Braves won their third game of the season against Clairemont as they played on emotion for their departed coach they knew and loved, Coach PARRIS PISIONA.

The only other win was a forfeit win against Sweetwater, as the Red Devils were recently forced to give up the 46-7 win against the Braves.

The injury bug has been killing the Braves as they also have such a small staff that if even one player goes down it can be detrimental.

RB DARRELL DAVIS and RB MAQUEL GARNER account for most of the carries and a combined 5 TDs this season. Both play well on the defensive side of the ball.

This one should be all… MONTE VISTA, 38-3.


CALIPATRIA (2-5, 0-1) at MOUNTAIN EMPIRE (3-4, 0-1) – It’s Homecoming for the Red Hawks, but Calipatria won last year against Mountain Empire at home, 28-7, so that should provide added motivation in this likely Manzanita League elimination battle.

Granted, the Red Hawks did have a slew of injuries on both sides of the ball in last year’s matchup and the Hornets took advantage.

This year the Red Hawks have a dual threat in QB GABRIEL HYDORN, who is 75-of-158 passing, for 1,092 yards, 12 TDs and 12 picks which is not a good ratio, but he has fantastic ground presence with his 44 carries for 259 yards and 4 TDs.

Another offensive key to this Red Hawk offense is the missing ingredient from last year’s meeting with the Hornets, captain and WR WYATT MANN, who has 29 receptions for 557 yards and 6 TDs.

Let us not forget the defense and special teams that complete this underrated team built on heart.

WR/DB/RB/KR DALLAS PRINCE has 23 catches for 281 yards, 1 receiving TD and a couple of nice kick and punt returns.

The Red Hawk who is always red hot is none other than BLAKE JARRELL, with his 68 TACKLES. He has caused 1 fumble and blocked a FG.

However, he did miss a game with injury.

OLB CAMERON WILL is the leading tackler since Jarrell did miss one game.

Will has 112 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception and a caused fumble.

Prince also leads in the interception column currently with 4, and the team has 9.

Last but not least, K WYATT AGUILAR has been almost perfect on 13-of-15 for PATa and 2 of 3 with a long of 44 yards on field goal attempts, which is pretty impressive even by NFL standards in which there are a shortage
of great kickers.

Calapatria is 0-3 on the road and have to compete with the energy set forth by the Homecoming crowd.

This is a must-win for both teams, but the advantage is in favor of the Red Hawks.

COLTON ALLEN had a scoop-and-score for the Red Hawks versus Holtville.

The Hornets have played a few tough teams, however, according to the computers, this game is pretty much even, although with homecoming and a team full of heart, playing a Hornet team with a two-game losing skid, the nod goes to… MOUNTAIN EMPIRE, 28-20.


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