East County Sports





By Ramon Scott



Four league championships involving teams from our region will take place on Friday night, including the battle of unbeaten contenders in the Grossmont Valley League – Monte Vista and West Hills.

The Monarchs and Wolf Pack will play a winner-take-all banner contest in Spring Valley.

Meanwhile, the Helix Highlanders can win the Grossmont Hills League outright with a win over visiting Steele Canyon. Otherwise, a Cougar win and a win by Granite Hills over Valhalla would create a three-way tie for first.

The Christian Patriots can wrap up the Eastern League with a win over University City in the Golden Triangle.

Lastly, the league-unbeaten Mountain Empire RedHawks will host one-loss Vincent Memorial in a closely-rated title tilt in the Manzanita League.


WEST HILLS (8-1, 3-0 GVL) at MONTE VISTA (8-1, 3-0 GVL) – Monte Vista head coach RON HAMAMOTO has the most wins of any currently active head coach in the section with 226.

Last year, he guided the Monarchs to the San Diego Section Division IV championship and nearly got Monte Vista to a state bowl championship game.

However, he hasn’t yet guided this program to a Grossmont Valley League championship.

The Monarchs will have that chance when they host the Wolf Pack in a league title game many were expecting when the season started.

West Hills last won the Grossmont Valley League championship in 2014, while the Monte Vista Monarchs haven’t raised a league football banner since 2004.

The Wolf Pack spent the last three years in the Hills League and they were expected to be in this championship game when they returned this season.

The Monarchs were installed as the league favorite after their great season last year and following the departure of Granite Hills to the Hills League.

West Hills senior JORDAN YOUNG threw three touchdown passes last week to beat Mount Miguel, as HUNTER GAUTHIER, KOLE KLINGERMAN, and STEVEN CRISTINI caught TD passes. Young had 200 yards of total offense.

But the Wolf Pack defense, which will have a steady focus on the Monte Vista backfield this week, had six sacks and two interceptions. West Hills has allowed the fewest points of any Grossmont Conference team this season

Junior linebacker JAKE MAHEU and junior lineman AUSTIN RUIZ-CASTANEDA help lead the Pack defense in the task against JAHMON MCCLENDON and Co.

Monte Vista sits in third in the Division III rankings currently. The Monarchs could be without the services of senior interior line star CHRISTIAN DELACRUZ, who was recently diagnosed with a concussion.

McClendon is the focal point, of course, for both teams, really, but the Monarchs surely will have to be more diversified against the Pack. McClendon rushed only nine times last week for 126 yards and four scores against El Cajon Valley.

The Monarchs are on a five-game winning streak, while the Wolf Pack has won four-in-a-row.

This game will be over in a hurry, as the Wolf Pack is also a heavy-run team… MONTE VISTA, 28-21.


STEELE CANYON (7-2, 2-1 GHL) at HELIX (6-3, 3-0 GHL) – The Cougars are looking for a three-way championship but they will need a monumental upset after the way the Highlanders turned away Granite Hills’ title challenge in the second half last week.

Helix forced turnovers and capitalized on them to beat the Eagles, 52-21.

The game was scoreless after one quarter and was tied 14-all at halftime, but senior ELELYON NOA finished with 254 yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns, as Helix pulled away in what was nothing less than a dismal third quarter for Granite.

Senior DANIEL AMON connected with juniors TIMOTHY CHRISTOPHER and KAMRYN BROWN for touchdowns for Helix.

DELSHAWN TRAYLOR rushed for two scores and had yet another interception on defense and now leads the East County in picks. Senior JOSHUA SHIELDS scored his first touchdown of the year with a rushing score.

The Cougars got 137 yards and three touchdowns from veteran KENNETH WATSON and 142 yards and a score by WESLEY NEELY III to out-distance the Grossmont Foothillers. Senior quarterback NATHAN BARNETT ran for a couple of scores, as well.

Junior CHRIS CARTER had a kickoff return for a touchdown and had several long-distance plays over the second half of the season.

Helix comes in with a five-game winning streak and has moved into third in the Open Division rankings and appear headed to the elite four-team playoff with a win… HELIX, 42-24.


CHRISTIAN (8-1, 3-0 Eastern) at UNIVERSITY CITY (4-5, 0-3 Eastern) – The Christian High Patriots can wrap up the Eastern League championship win a win against the Centurions on the road.

The Patriots last won the league banner two years ago.

Senior quarterback OWEN EASLEY had 276 yards passing on Saturday night in a 49-0 win over visiting La Jolla.

Senior running back JAVIER JIMENEZ scored three touchdowns for Christian, while seniors MATT ARMIJO and MILES MONTES also scored touchdowns. Sophomore receiver JACK ST. FLEUR had six receptions for the Pats

UC has weapons, including likely county Player of the Year finalist Casey Granfors, who had 13 catches for 276 yards last week.

Even though UC has a disappointing record, they have a star-studded team, including quarterback Gunnar Gray.

However, the Patriots have a senior-laden defense with GARRETT ROSENTHAL, BRYCE RIEPL, CODY BOSTIAN, NATHAN MATTAZARO, DAVID VENTURA, and JUSTIN ROEHL that is proving to be better than many of the program’s previous editions… CHRISTIAN, 38-21.


EL CAPITAN (3-6, 1-3 GHL) at GROSSMONT (2-7, 1-3 GHL) – The Vaqueros and Foothillers appear equally matched when the teams meet in the regular season finale in La Mesa.

This one will match a pair of pretty good junior quarterbacks that have combined to throw for over 3,000 yards this season. Despite the sub-par records, both clubs are headed to the postseason.

El Cap’s chances for a home game in the Division III playoffs could likely hinge on a road victory over the Foothillers.

Vaquero junior WICK HAUSER passed for four touchdowns against Valhalla in a 42-21 win last Friday night.

Senior YAPHET YOKLEY had touchdown receptions of 64 and 48 yards for El Capitan. Yokley also had a touchdown run and 178 yards of total offense.

Senior RAY LAWLER caught a touchdown pass from Hauser and senior teammate JOHN CASE ran for a score for the Vaqueros.

Grossmont junior quarterback JAIME ODOM has over 1,600 yards on the campaign, along with 16 touchdown passes.

A pair of junior receivers is among a quartet of pass catchers with at least 15 receptions this season. BRODY SCHICKER and SKIP WALTOWER guarantee the Hillers will be in good hands when it comes to hauling in the passes from Odom next season.

The computer ratings and the home field point to… GROSSMONT, 34-31.


GRANITE HILLS (8-1, 2-1) at VALHALLA (0-9, 0-3) – The Eagles will try to corral Valhalla junior running back KEGAN BAKER, who rushed for a school-record 363 yards last week and three touchdowns on just 19 carries against El Capitan.

The Valhalla school rushing record stood for 13 years, but Baker topped GAREN DEMRY’s previous mark by nearly 100 yards.

The competitive rivalry may be off for the time being, but the Eagles and the Norsemen will renew acquaintances once again.

Despite the Eagles’ residence in the Valley League over the last three years, the teams kept up the competition. Granite won 34-17 last season at Valley Stadium to break a two-year losing streak to Valhalla.

Senior quarterback CRIS OSTRENG had three touchdown passes against the Helix Highlanders in the big Grossmont Hills showdown, but the Eagles couldn’t keep up in the second half.

Sophomore HENRY DELEON scored on a touchdown reception for Granite Hills, which appears headed to the playoffs as the top seed in Division II.

Granite will likely get plenty of reps on how to stop a bell-cow back in Baker… GRANITE HILLS, 42-14.


SANTANA (4-5, 0-3) at EL CAJON VALLEY (0-9, 0-3) – Santana comes off a much-needed bye as the team tries to get several key players healthy for the postseason.

The Sultans are currently sixth in Division IV and are likely to host a first-round playoff contest.

While the league season may have been a disappointment for the Sultans, the future is bright with several underclassmen in key offensive positions.

Santana could contend with the likes of several of the teams in the playoff picture over the next few weeks, providing the team is near full-strength.

This is El Cajon Valley’s playoff game, but the Braves’ have put some prospective talent on the field this season in juniors DAMARIUS HYDE and CLARENCE JOHNSON.

The Braves’ last win on the field came in Week 3 of last season. Could this be the week? … SANTANA, 38-12.


MOUNT MIGUEL (3-6) at DEL NORTE (5-4) – The Matadors have been playing varsity football since 1957, but there probably hasn’t been a quarterback on campus as prolific statistically as J.D. LAVERDIERE.

This season, the son of a former Mount Miguel linebacker has already passed for 2,607 yards, which surely is the school record.

Back in 2007, AARON BRYANT passed for 2,137 yards, including a then-single game school record 270 yards in the CIF quarterfinals.

Laverdiere smashed that mark in his third game this season with 362 yards against Valhalla and has since had a 395-yard game and 414 yards against Santana, which is the 11th best mark in Grossmont Conference history.

Mount Miguel senior ERIK GRAHAM had nine catches in the Matadors’ game against Monte Vista earlier this season, which was the second most in school history behind one of Bryant’s targets – TRAVON CAPLES, who had 10 catches in a game in that 2007 season.

DEWEY DOROUG (1992) and JEROME WEATHERSPOON (1978) also had 10 receptions in a game at Mount Miguel. Not even Mount Miguel legend ROBERT CLAIBORNE had that many receptions in a game.

The Matadors will be underdogs Friday night and that’s good news because they will need a big upset win and a lot of help to make the numbers work to extend their season.

Laverdiere passed for 319 yards and two touchdowns against West Hills last week to go over the 2,500-yard mark this season. He also has 25 touchdown passes.

DOMINIC MORALES and MIKEY AVANT both had seven receptions in the loss to West Hills last Friday.

Del Norte, out of the tough Palomar League, has a good club that rated in the top four in Division IV, but the nothing-to-lose Matadors are a Wild Card this Friday night… MOUNT MIGUEL, 35-34.


VINCENT MEMORIAL (7-2, 1-1 Manzanita) at MOUNTAIN EMPIRE (6-3, 2-0 Manzanita) – This one is for the outright league title for the Mountain Empire RedHawks.

The teams are rated awfully close, but the Scots have already dropped a league contest to Holtville, which the RedHawks defeated two weeks ago.

Interestingly, Holtville is ahead of both teams in the Division V playoff rankings. The Vikings are in fourth, while the Scots are in fifth and MEHS is in sixth.

San Diego Section officials reserve the right to move teams ahead of teams they have beaten if they are behind them in the standings, so it will be interesting to see where these teams finish come late Friday night.

Mountain Empire quarterback GABRIEL HYDORN had four touchdown passes in the win over Calipatria last week.

Senior CAMERON WILL has 86 solo tackles this season for the Hawks.

The RedHawks have won three straight. Head coach BERNARD VANN has geared this program for this type of game and beyond.

Mountain Empire’s closely-rated games often are coming right down to the wire with some of the most exciting finishes in the section… MOUNTAIN EMPIRE, 22-21.

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