East County Sports

Cougars solidify playoff plans

THOMAS FISHBURNE throws a pass Friday night against El Capitan. / photo by Chris Parks - scenesofyourlife.com


Steele Canyon races with the ball Friday night. / Chris Parksscenesofyourlife.com




By Jim Lindgren

Special to EastCountySports.com

Steele Canyon pressures El Capitan Friday night. / photo by Chris Parks – scenesofyourlife.com

SPRING VALLEY – Playing at home in their season finale, the Steele Canyon Cougars merely had to walk about 200 yards from their locker room to the field in hopes of boosting their Division II playoff position.

Playing on the road for a slim chance at making the Division II playoffs, El Capitan had a much tougher time getting to the ballpark. For the second time this season, a “bus malfunction” kept the Vaqueros from reaching their destination on schedule, and the game had to be delayed for about 20 minutes.

While Steele Canyon accomplished its goal, El Capitan probably won’t board another big yellow bus for another year.

KENNETH WATSON and DEONTAE McKINNEY had good rushing nights for Steele Canyon, and ROBERT WHITEHEAD posted two interceptions as the Cougars pulled away from El Capitan in the fourth quarter for a 28-7 win in their Grossmont Valley League season finale.

Steele Canyon (6-4, 3-2) came into the game in the No. 6 playoff spot and will likely host a first-round game in the 12-team postseason tournament.

El Capitan (3-7, 1-4) was ranked No. 13 – after a 10-7 loss to West Hills last week – and probably won’t make the postseason.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Steele Canyon coach SCOTT LONGERBONE said. “They were playing to extend their season. We were playing for a home game in the playoffs.

Steele Canyon stands up an El Capitan ball carrier. / photo by Ramon Scott

“It was a good hard-fought battle.”

Watson, who topped 100 yards rushing, put the Cougars on top 7-0 in the first quarter on a nifty 67-yard run. Watson took the handoff, bolted up the middle, cleared all defenders in a hurry and raced the rest of the way untouched for the long score.

The Cougars went up 14-0 on a 23-yard touchdown pass from THOMAS FISHBURNE to PERRY STEELE. With plenty of time in the pocket, Fishburne laid a perfect pass to Steele over the middle near the goal, and Steele dived into the end zone for the score.

Later in the second quarter, El Capitan quarterback ANTONIO OLIVIERI called his own number from the 5-yard line and managed to push the pile into the end zone to make it a 14-7 game at halftime.

However, that’s all the Vaqueros would get on this night.

Fishburne scored on a 1-yard keeper early in the fourth quarter, and backup quarterback HAYDEN ROACH posted a 5-yard touchdown run to finish the scoring.

Whitehead’s pair of picks highlighted a great defensive showing by the Cougars.

“One of those (interceptions) was ridiculous,” Longerbone said. “He tipped the ball into the air, and as he landed on the ground, he caught the ball. He’s come up big for us so many times this year.”

ROBERT WHITEHEAD tips a pass before coming down with the interception for Steele Canyon. / photo by Ramon Scott

A few weeks ago, El Capitan’s bus broke down before picking up the team for a road game. On Friday night, the bus was simply late.

Steele Canyon played for the second straight week without SDSU-bound defensive lineman MIKEL OLIVER, who is slated for an MRI on his knee this week. The Cougars were already without star linebacker AMIR HARRIS, who might have a torn ACL in his knee.

“El Cap came to play,” Longerbone said. “They needed a win to get in the playoffs.

“We expected a tight game, and we got one. El Cap played well. They were trying to extend their season.”

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