East County Sports


Granite Hills makes a tackle on Friday night.




By Dave Dickens



EL CAJON (10-5-2018) – Since the beginning of the 2018 campaign, the Granite Hills Eagles have been at the bottom of the county rankings, based mostly on the strength of schedule.

In layman’s terms, some say that they haven’t played any teams of significance.

The Eagles, now 7-0 (2-0 GHL) and at the top of the Grossmont Hills League, would beg to differ, so to speak.

Once again, they did win three-straight Grossmont Valley League titles and made several SDS-CIF appearances with different casts to boot.

Social networks, in particular, are the venues picking against the very talented Granite Hills Eagles.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages, just head out on a Friday night to wherever the Granite Hills Eagles are playing and judge the performance for yourself. If nothing else the team will entertain in all three phases of the game.

Let us also not discredit the highly talented and explosive teams they have faced in the last two weeks in particular.

The Eagles played a highly explosive, athletic, extremely well-coached, Steele Canyon Cougars last week in a usual right down to the wire, back-and-forth battle, 30-27 game in favor of the Eagles.

This week, although the stats stated the Hillers own the Eagles in the last seven meetings over an 18-year span, once again the Granite Hills squad was able to defeat a well-coached quality opponent in the Grossmont High Foothillers, 44-20.

Both squads just happen to be the very teams the Eagles need to defeat in order to earn a chance of dethroning the Helix Highlanders. That is not something Granite Hills head coach Kellan Cobbs is discussing at the moment, as they will review film on the El Capitan Vaqueros, a team that Steele Canyon put up over 400 yards on in just the first half.

Friday evening, the Eagles would receive the pigskin first. Both squads seemed to be very confident in winning this second league game of the year with definite playoff implications, as both sidelines full of spirit.

Granite’s offense went right to work, moving the chains with a few short runs, a beauty of a pass to Eagles wide receiver JAMES JOHNSON from quarterback CRIS OSTRENG, followed up with a 4-yard touchdown run by Ostreng himself. JUSTIN MCELLIGOTT added his magic touch to put the Eagles up, 7-0.

As Ostreng ran through the end zone and made his turn back to the sideline, he had a look of pure confidence.

After some “Steel Curtain/No-Fly Zone defense,“ the Eagle offense had a short field to cover.

A couple plays later, Granite’s Ostreng, with some quick moves and great pull by the offensive line, went in on a 20-yard scamper into the end zone for his second touchdown on the evening. With very little time remaining in the first quarter, the extra point was up and good, and Granite was dominating early 14-0.

“We are being able to have success with the running game,” Cobbs said. “But, we’re able to throw the ball accurately down the field, and create turnovers on defense, while not turning the ball over ourselves as we had done before at the beginning of the season.”

The Granite Hills defense, led by ETHEN BISHOP and NOAH MEDEIROS, continued to limit the Hillers’ ground attack, not to mention the explosive Grossmont runner, ROBERT TUCKER, who has been a key balance to the Hiller offensive attack, missed the contest.

Hiller quarterback JAIME ODOM was under duress the entire evening, however, was able to move the offense downfield, but turned the ball over in the red zone, which is not a typical trait of the Hillers, and assisted the Eagles with a shorter field to cover in which the Eagles took advantage every time.

Once again, with mere seconds left on the clock, and after an Eagle fumble recovery, Ostreng tossed a touchdown pass to the typical kickoff and punt specialist, JUNI HARRIS. The Eagles would tack on the extra point by sure-footed McElligot, 21-0.

With 10 minutes to go in the second quarter, the Hillers put together a drive as Odom connected with a beauty to wide receiver SKIP WALTOWE Skip Waltower for a 63-yard score. The point after touchdown was successful, so it was 21-7 Eagles.

Four minutes later, the speedy Harris would rely on his speed and elusiveness to score his second touchdown for the visiting Eagles on the evening, making it 27-7 Eagles as the point after was blocked by a leaping Hiller, CHRIS ALBA.

Two minutes later, Odom led his offense down the field, ultimately scoring in the corner of the end zone with a huge push by the offensive line. Odom’s score was a 4-yard touchdown, making it 27-13, as Granite blocked the point after touchdown, with seconds left in the second quarter.

With 1.4 seconds left the Eagles added a successful chip shot field goal by McElligott, making it 30-13 Eagles.

The Hillers got the ball back with one second left in the first half as Odom launched a Hail Mary pass right into the arms of Eagle defender Jack Siegfried as time expired in the first half.

“I was just trying to stay deep and not let anything behind me before the half ended,” Siegfried said. “Odom threw a bomb and I just tried to make a play on the ball. ”

The Eagles kicked off to the Hillers to begin the second half, yet, the Granite defense continued to play tough, causing the Hillers to punt yet again. The Eagles would score again on a third 4-yard rushing touchdown by Ostreng. The extra point was good, making it 37-13 Granite Hills with under nine minutes to go in the third quarter.

“Our coaches told us to not to take our foot off the gas pedal and to keep moving the ball,” Ostreng said. “We were told to keep physicality and intensity as we did in the first half.

“DANNY RUSSEL was doing a great job leading into the hole when he pulled, DAMAN HIDALGO did the same, just the other way.

“Our defense did as they always do. They are one tight group of people and know how to get it done on the field.

“We have gained a ton of confidence after going this far without a loss, and defeating two teams in our league.”

Grossmont would score yet one more time as Odom tossed another touchdown pass with seven minutes to play in the third quarter, with the point after touchdown successful, that would be the last of the scoring for the Foothillers, 37-20 Granite led.

The Eagle defense remained strong as the Hillers were shut out in the fourth quarter.

Just for good measure, Granite scored one last time in the fourth quarter on a short pass from Ostreng to JACOB SETTERBERG. The point after touchdown successful, making it 44-20.

“Missed assignments, dropped passes, turnovers, and penalties assisted Granite in beating us,” Grossmont coach TOM KARLO said. “I thought we were going to win this game. And I am disappointed that we didn’t.”

“Don’t get me wrong, Granite is a good team and they capitalized when we made mistakes, that is what good teams do. Not to excuse anything but not having Robert Tucker in the backfield hurt us, as well.

“When things were going right for us, we looked like we could win the game, but we just shot ourselves in the foot way too many times.”

The undefeated Eagles (7-0) will come home and face the 2-4 El Capitan Vaqueros next Friday at Valley Stadium at 7 p.m. For now, the 7-0 Eagles are on top of the Grossmont Hills League.

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