East County Sports

East County can become Title County

CARSON BAKER (9) and RASHAD SCOTT (2) lead the celebration after beating Oaks Christian. / Antonio McIntyre - Country Boi Photography



By Ramon Scott



SACRAMENTO – The Helix Highlanders surely don’t consider themselves underdogs heading into tonight’s CIF Division I-AA state championship bowl game against Northern Cal division champ Folsom at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium.

The Highlanders are just that, however, against the undefeated Bulldogs as two of the top seven teams in the state meet at 8 p.m.

And the consensus is that Folsom could be favored by a touchdown or more against a Helix team that has won 12-straight games.

Folsom brings a high-powered offense that nearly averaged 50 points per game to face Helix’s superior defense, which is solidified by an extremely elite secondary led by ISAAC TAYLOR-STUART and RASHAD SCOTT.

Helix senior QB CARSON BAKER scores a touchdown against Oaks Christian. / photo by Antonio McIntyre – Country Boi Photography

Scott got a flat tire, of sorts, in the section championship game, feeling a pop near his Achilles tendon. He didn’t play most of the second half.

But he looked at near-perfect health in the regional bowl championship last week returning an interception for a touchdown in the upset of Oaks Christian.

Folsom (15-0) seeks its third CIF State bowl title since 2010.

The stars of this group are brothers Daniyel and Joseph Ngata along with junior QB Kaiden Bennett.

Folsom sophomore Elijah Badger is also a high-level major college prospect.

The Bulldogs want one last “Ngata Boogie” dance.

The matchup of the brothers against the Helix super secondary could determine the final outcome.

But the Bulldogs are more than throw, as over 3,000 of their 7,100-plus total yards this season have come on the ground. Folsom outgained the Highlanders by over 1,500 yards this season.

This Helix defensive group certainly resembles the 2011 team that beat Del Oro for the CIF State Division-II bowl crown.

Junior linebacker MICHAEL SHAWCROFT was a first-team All-CIF San Diego Section selection, along with Scott and Taylor-Stuart.

Helix’s offense seems to be benefitting greatly from the play from running back ELELYON “FATTO” NOA, who has rushed for 889 yards and eight touchdowns in the playoffs.

That opens things up even more for CARSON BAKER and his own targets, including the somewhat surprise superstar of the Highlanders this season ISAIAH WOODEN.

Helix senior lineman WILLIAM PAYNE was also named as a first-team all-section selection.

Folsom has a history at this venue, as well, as the Bulldogs are 6-1 in championship games at Hornet Field this decade, all of the wins were Sac-Joaquin Section title games.

With the Bulldogs’ home just 32 miles away, they should also have a larger crowd, although the Helix faithful are expected to make a strong showing.

Can the Highlanders send the Bulldogs’ fans home feeling blue… HELIX, 28-27.



STEELE CANYON (11-4) vs HALF MOON BAY (14-0) – The Steele Canyon Cougars will become just the second San Diego Section team to play 16 games in a single-season when they face the Half Moon Bay Cougars in the CIF State Division 3-A bowl championship game.

Steele will tie a San Diego Section record just by taking the field Saturday night at Southwestern College at  6 p.m.

Both of the clubs have come out of nowhere, of sorts.

While the Cougars of Half Moon Bay come in sporting their unbeaten record, our Steele Canyon Cougars are certainly on a roll of their own.

Steele Canyon was often a bridesmaid at the section semifinals, but the Cougars finally broke through on their eighth try, then parlayed that win into an impressive, clutch wins against Ramona in the section title game, then a road win at El Modeno, of Orange, last week, to win the Southern California regional bowl title.

Steele Canyon makes a stop against Ramona in the section championship game. / photo by Tammy Ryan – TRyan Photography

Now Steele has won seven-straight and have already smashed the school record for wins in a season.

Steele Canyon quarterback THOMAS FISHBURNE was named to the All-San Diego CIF second team this past week, one of only four quarterbacks named to the all-section team.

The Cougars’ defensive great MIKEL OLIVER was a second-team selection at defensive end on the All-Section team.

A serious of injuries has limited Oliver from reaching his true deserved recognition throughout his career.

The duo have been together for three years to see this through.

For Fishburne, his recognition is well-deserved, but it took the Cougars’ championship run likely to get him noticed. His pairing with unheralded senior wide receiver JORDAN ANDERSON has gone mostly overlooked by local experts this season.

For Oliver, his early commitment to San Diego State, along with his inspiring back story and supportive relationship with head coach SCOTT LONGERBONE, has all eyes trained on Mikel on nearly every defensive play.

That has opened things up for a new bevy of Cougar defensive stars, including lineman DARIN WALTON, defensive back ROBERT WHITEHEAD and linebacker BILLY TELLOUS.

Sure Steele has had a few gaudy defensive numbers at times against one of the toughest schedules in the county, but the defense certainly tightened up in the title run, holding opponents during a playoff string of photo finishes. And this group often thrives off the big play.

Half Moon Bay, with only 27 players, couldn’t believe their success when they reached some of the regions biggest games.

Once those Cougars got to the postseason, the quickly and impressively proved they belonged, but before the season, coach Keith Holden, a former Half Moon Bay player, wasn’t sure they could compete in the Bay this season.

But behind quarterback Gavin Tomberlin, star Chase Hofmann and “Mr. Utility” Dylan Williams, the community of 11,000-plus exploded with excitement during the championship run.

Half Moon Bay’s Cougars are favored by the official computer rankings by a touchdown, but note that Half Moon Bay lost a key senior right tackle for the remainder of the season to injury in the Central Coast Section Division 3 title game, a 41-9 win over Terra Nova, of Pacifica.

Half Moon Bay scrambled for a replacement and eventually a freshman that played junior varsity this season ended up winning the spot, although he reportedly fared fine in the regional final.

Here though against the Steele Canyon’s sack masters, that, along with a semi-home field advantage, could make a difference… STEELE CANYON 34, HALF MOON BAY 31 (OT).



Leave a Reply

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