East County Sports


TONY BURNER quarterbacks West Hills in 2000.




By Ramon Scott



SANTEE – El Capitan head coach RON BURNER told the media this week he might’ve let the team down while continuing to coach his Vaqueros following the death of his son, Tony, last June.

The veteran mentor offered the impression that he may not have been able to give his team his full focus just months after the former West Hills quarterback and El Capitan assistant coach passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.

More likely, the everyday rigors leading a football program, as well as, continuing to run a business, may have provided the Burner family and the Vaquero football family the necessary bond to get through last season.

The Tony Burner Trophy

And from now on, when the El Capitan Vaqueros and West Hills Wolf Pack meet on the football field, the Burner family will share the memory of their son with young families by awarding a grant from the Tony Burner Memorial Scholarship Fund to a student from each school.

Tony Burner was a multi-sport athlete at West Hills, graduating in 2001. Converted to a quarterback in his senior year, he set records for completion percentage for a season and completions in a game (32).

West Hills head coach CASEY ASH knows that the soon-to-be annual celebration may give a bit of a motivational edge to the Lakesiders, both skippers agree that it will only heighten the level of excitement for the already-charged rivalry.

The teams were meeting for league championships before league alignment broke them up. The league rivalry resumed, but the Pack were moved back to the Grossmont Valley League this season. 

That didn’t matter to Burner and Ash, who are determined to keep this obvious matchup afloat.

The Wolf Pack have big news of their own, coming in as one of three undefeated teams left in the East County.

The win at Chula Vista two weeks ago, a 13-0 shutout, came as a gut-check after senior quarterback JORDIN YOUNG went down with a wrist injury.

HUNTER GAUTHIER, a top defender and tight end, stepped in and ran the team steadily, if not efficiently. When he ran in a late touchdown, the Pack’s confidence grew after winning without their signal caller.

Young, aided by the bye week, took reps in practice this week but could be a game-time decision for the contest in West Santee (all games tonight are at 7, unless noted).

Last year, West Hills won, 10-3, in Lakeside, as Young had a 45-yard run and a 30-yard TD pass on the game’s only touchdown drive in the first half.

The Vaqueros will have to go keep on eye on Young if he goes, as he took off for over 100 yards rushing in that contest.

West Hills junior JAKE MAHEU had an interception, as well, as the Wolf Pack had three interceptions, although El Capitan quarterback WICK HAUSER was out with an injury at the time.

Now, Hauser has started to return to form and senior speed man YAPHET YOKLEY has made big plays in all three facets of the game against the opponents on El Capitan’s difficult schedule to-date.

El Capitan running back DONNY GREEN and the Vaquero running game could be more productive in a more evenly-balanced matchup despite the Pack’s obvious success defensively so far.

West Hills seeks its first 5-0 start since 2012; the Wolf Pack’s next best start was the 1995 team that went 9-0, then lost to Valhalla, then lost in the CIF playoffs to El Camino in 2 OTs.

The Vaqueros got their win last week – 41-7 over Patrick Henry – and are back where they feel comfortable. The Pack knows they can’t sleep on the El Cap’s 1-3 record.

The series stands at 16-14 in favor of West Hills, including an even-split of the last 14.

West Hills will try to win its second straight versus El Capitan since 2004-05.

The winner will be awarded the Tony Burner Trophy, donated by ROB TREADWELL of Al’s Sport Shop.

As it stands, the Wolf Pack are expected to win this game, but that favoritism surely depends on the participation of Young… WEST HILLS, 21-14.

STEELE CANYON (3-1) at (12) MIRA MESA (4-0) (NFHS Network) – The surging Cougars are 11th in the section’s computer rankings while the undefeated Marauders come in at No. 25.

Even with the home field edge, Mira Mesa should find itself an underdog against a reigning state champ.

But don’t tell that to local pollsters. A dozen or more of the expert ballots had Mira Mesa checked off near the bottom of their top tens, but the Cougars couldn’t garner a vote this week.

Now throw in the home field and all of a sudden, the Cougs could be the underdog. It should be noted that Mira Mesa has played the third easiest schedule, according to the official computer ratings, of those top 25 teams.

Steele Canyon quarterback NATHAN BARNETT has the make-up of a quarterback who does what it takes to win.

Barnett has scored nine touchdowns as a rusher and has a pair of complimenting performers in CHANCE JOHNSON and KENNETH WATSON. 

The Cougars, who often employ a backfield by committee, looked be a bit short-handed due to a couple of injuries of late.

However, junior JUNIOR AKINTUNDE returned from injury to score a touchdown last week.

JONATHAN KENNEY had a pair of field goals last week, as well.

Mira Mesa has top offensive stars in their own right in running back Elijah Lynch and quarterback Noah Tumblin.

The two teams had never played each other until they met twice last year – both times in Spring Valley including a playoff game – and the Cougars outscored Mira Mesa by a combined 40 points. 

With that history in mind, trust the computer… STEELE CANYON, 24-21.

(13) CHRISTIAN (4-0) at SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (3-1), (3:30 p.m.) – Don’t look now, but the undefeated and 13th-ranked Christian Patriots are inside the top 15 of the section’s computer rankings as they head into a road game with a certain familiar nemesis in the Santa Fe Christian Eagles.

The Patriots had a bye following their big Division III showdown win with Monte Vista two weeks ago, a game decided in double overtime, but a result the Patriots’ players didn’t consider an upset.

ALEX GONZALEZ had two touchdowns, including the score in the second OT to get within a point then JAVIER JIMENEZ ran in a two-point conversion behind NATHAN LEE, LAKE TOFFLEMIRE and DUNCAN HUNTER to give Christian the win.

Patriot defenders CODY BOSTIAN, CHRISTIAN SALACUP, KYLE OLSEN, BRYCE RIEPL, JAKE IFRID, DAVID VENTURA and JACK ST. FLEUR spent the night gaming up on the Monarchs’ star running back.

Christian High senior quarterback OWEN EASLEY has nearly 800 yards passing so far this season

Santa Fe Christian gives a heavy dose of the run game led by senior Jack Miles.

Senior Michael Linguadoca is a capable quarterback for the Eagles.

Last season, Christian High came into a home matchup expected to beat SFC and the Eagles walked out of Valley Stadium the bigger, stronger and better team in a 30-7 win.

These two former Coastal League rivals would often meet twice, once in the regular season and usually again in the playoffs. 

In 2011, the teams clashed in the CIF Division V championship game at Mesa College, as the Pats won with a 37-yard FG by MASON POWELL to knock off the top-seeded Eagles with 0:29 left.

Christian won 49-7 in 2014, and the Patriots leads series 15-13-1. 

The computers have this one rather one-sided, but history would say otherwise… CHRISTIAN, 28-24.

MONTE VISTA (3-1) at BISHOP’S (2-2) – Monte Vista senior running back JAHMON MCCLENDON announced on Tuesday that he was switching his commitment from SDSU to UCLA.

After the loss to Christian High, McClendon made a now not-so-secret trip to meet with the Bruins and head coach Chip Kelly during the bye week last weekend.

McClendon, who has 742 yards this season with 14 touchdowns, decided that the Bruins higher-profile was a better fit for the still-budding young star.

Monte Vista held Christian to just 24 yards in the third and fourth quarters combined but ultimately fell behind the Patriots in the D3 rankings with the OT loss on the road.

These two teams met last season and the Knights won 58-21, but that was a Bishop’s team that was led by Mozes Mooney and Jeffrey Jackson.

Bishop’s still has a good connection with quarterback Clay Petry, who has over 1,000 yards of total yards this season. 

Clarence Freeman IV, who has 34 receptions and over 500 yards of total offense, gets the ball in many ways and has scored eight touchdowns.

Knights junior Clarence Freeman IV is the county’s leading receiver by far with 34 receptions, but he’s really just taking a handoff. He also has eight touchdowns.

The Knights have a strong guy in DOMINIC HALEY patrolling on defense, but Monte Vista lineman CHRISTIAN DE LA CRUZ leads the dominating front.

These teams met in 2012 and Monte Vista won, 33-13, in a game played at La Jolla High.

The Christian Patriots found it tough against Monte Vista’s defense so Bishop’s could experience a similar fate… MONTE VISTA, 35-28.

MAR VISTA (3-2) at SANTANA (4-1) – The Santana Sultans have quickly revamped their lineup and knocked off previously unbeaten Vincent Memorial last Friday.

Despite injuries, Santana remains one of the favorites in Division IV along with Kearny (4-0), Coronado (4-1) and this Mar Vista (3-2) club, which they’ll host in a section rivalry renewal on Friday night.

Against the Scots, converted quarterback SEAN IVERSON passed for two touchdowns, and COLTON SNIPES had an interception return for a touchdown, kicked his second field goal of the season and made five tackles.

BROOKS MOUTAW had a 30-yard touchdown run and caught a 19-yard TD pass, and JACOB PETERSON added 67 yards rushing and made eight tackles on defense

The Sultans forced five turnovers and controlled the ball.

The Mariners feature quarterback Alex Gutierrez and rely on defensive standout Diego Garza.

Santana lost last year by committing six turnovers down in Imperial Beach. 

Moutaw had a touchdown run but suffered a shoulder injury late in the first quarter.

It was against Mar Vista that Snipes had his section-tying record four blocked kicks from his sniper position on the kick-block unit.

Snipes and CAMERON LARICCIA combined for 17 tackles in the contest.

The home team has won last six meetings in this series, while Santana leads series overall, 5-4… SANTANA, 31-28.

POWAY (3-2) at GROSSMONT (1-3) – Grossmont High invited the Southern Section Division 2’s No. 2-ranked team, Rancho Verde, for an impromptu game last Friday.

The Foothillers may have been grateful to be able to fill their schedule, but the team got a reality check in a decisive loss to the Mustangs, who had a short-handed opponent drop out of a game late.

In addition, Grossmont’s ZAK FARRIS suffered an apparent back injury in the fourth quarter and sophomore running back ROBERT TUCKER also left the game.

So, the Foothillers, who didn’t expect to be 1-3 after four games despite a now-rugged schedule, may be missing their top rusher and receiver this week.

Still, quarterback JAIME ODOM has targets to turn to, including THOMAS MANGUM, BRODY SHICKER and SKIP WALTOWER.

The Titans losses have come against undefeated Granite Hills and the Ramona Bulldogs, but now Poway has won two-straight behind their run, run, run game led by junior back Josh Butler.

The Titans defense has recorded 12 sacks this season and is allowed less than seven points per game.

The Hillers lead the series 2-0, winning a home-and-home back in 2014-15… GROSSMONT, 21-19.

SOUTHWEST (EC) (2-2) at (15) GRANITE HILLS (4-0) – The undefeated Eagles may indeed be getting the respect they deserve after rounding out the county poll this week at No. 15.

The Eagles, a legitimate pursuer of the Helix Highlanders, are also a top contender for the Division II section title.

Granite Hills has 13 sacks this season, but maybe just as impressively, the Eagles have seven interceptions so far.

Granite Hills junior JUNI HARRIS returned an interception for a touchdown and GIDEON ALABA also had an interception, while senior CRIS OSTRENG (243 total yards) hooked up with JAMES JOHNSON for a 60-yard TD pass in a 40-6 win over Hilltop last week.

This would seem an obvious look-ahead spot for the Eagles with the Grossmont Hills League opener at Steele Canyon on deck, but the allure of a 5-0 start should keep Granite focused.

Southwest, after losing the opener to West Hills in El Centro, has won two-straight over teams from Yuma. Logan Chell is the Eagles’ playmaker on both sides of the ball.

The Eagles lead series 1-0 as Granite won, 21-16, at Valley Stadium in 2004… GRANITE HILLS, 34-14.

VALHALLA (0-4) at OTAY RANCH (2-3) – The Norsemen will get another learning opportunity when they travel to face the Mustangs.

Otay has quarterback Puka Stewart, who has almost 700 yards of total yards so far, and back Noah Isley, who has rushed for over 300 yards and has a team-high 12 receptions.

Running back KEGAN BAKER, quarterback LUKE PILLSBURY, and senior KIARE WORTHY lead the Valhalla offense, while CONNOR NAGEL and ZACH LARSON lead the Valhalla defense.

Senior JORDAN ARROLLADA has made some big plays in the Valhalla secondary.

Otay Ranch leads the series 3-0… OTAY RANCH, 34-14.

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