East County Sports


Ron Burner is congratulated by Don Rutledge following last year's inaugural Tony Burner Memorial Trophy game.



By Ramon Scott


LAKESIDE – Tony Burner coached some pretty good quarterbacks as an assistant coach with the El Capitan Vaqueros.

Burner, the son of long-time El Capitan head coach Ron Burner, passed away unexpectedly in June of 2017. He was a record-setting quarterback at West Hills High and later was a quarterbacks coach with his dad, where he tutored Ryan Lindley, Tanner Rust, and Brad Cagle.

And he would have loved to see the eventual development of current Vaquero field general Wick Hauser.

Hauser, a senior, got his first varsity start a season before Tony’s passing. Four seasons later, Hauser has thrown for over 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in his career as he leads El Capitan into Friday night’s second-annual Tony Burner Memorial Trophy game against the Wolf Pack in Lakeside at 7.

These two rivals have kept this series alive and added a shining new flame last season with the creation of the new perpetual trophy and accompanying dual-school scholarship program which Burner and Ash hope to expand conference-wide.

Last season, the Vaqueros used the emotion surrounding the inaugural game for the new hardware to pull off an upset in west Santee, 31-21.

Now, in desperate need of a victory, El Capitan (0-4) will try to kindle a spark to a season that still has a flicker of hope to find a way into the postseason and a West Hills club that squarely sits just inside the Division III playoff bubble (12th of 16 teams) in the first release of the San Diego CIF’s in-season power ratings.

Ron Burner knows that it could carry over again this season, as the series swings to El Cap and the team is hungry for its first win. He also admits that West Hills head coach Casey Ash’s team, while also inspired by the rivalry, could likely be at somewhat of an emotional disadvantage.

“He has given a built-in advantage to my team,” Burner said this week. “I am forever in debt to him and (athletic director) Don Rutledge because they didn’t have to agree to do this.”

Hauser passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, while another returnee this season, senior Donny Green, had a strong rushing game in the win. Jacobo Villa, another returning senior this season, clinched the win with a sack.

Wolf Pack receivers Kole Klingerman and Steven Cristini combined for five receptions and 70 yards in the game and look to take advantage of a defense that is allowing a mind-boggling 48 points-per-game.

West Hills (2-2), with two-way start Jake Maheu, is allowing just under 15 points-per-contest following a 34-14 win over visiting Chula Vista two weeks ago behind a combined 9-of-11 passing from quarterbacks Gerardo Hernandez and Braden Oberg.

West Hills currently leads the all-time series 16-15 after El Cap handed the Pack their first loss of the season and took the trophy from the 52 to the 67.

This one could be a Grossmont League game once again soon, as the conference discussed this week an immediate contingency plan to create a four-team Hills League, involving the top local teams, and a seven-team Valley circuit, which would include these rivals, starting as early as next season.

This time around, the Vaqueros may be winless but are far from underdogs against the Pack. The two teams sit right next to each other in the computer power rankings, although El Cap was 15th out of 16 in the section’s Division III playoff ratings, adding further significance to the renewal… EL CAPITAN 23-22.

All of this week’s games are at 7 p.m.

Vincent Memorial (5-0) at Santana (5-0) – The Santana Sultans are the top-rated team in the San Diego Section’s Division IV and are in the midst of a possible historic season.

Last Friday night, Santana fought off the traffic then torched Montgomery, which came in ranked second in the division, 35-6, to improve to 5-0, which is the team’s best start in eight years.

This Friday, the Sultans will host the top-ranked team in Division V, undefeated Vincent Memorial (5-0), as a final tuneup for a Grossmont Valley League race that the team has played its way into the role of favorite.

Following a late arrival after taking an arduous route during rush hour to get to the high school off Palm Ave., the Sultans got off the bus and took care of business as senior wide receiver Randy Smith caught three touchdown passes from quarterback Nathan Temple, including two in the first half.

Santana led just 14-6 at halftime but Brooks Moutaw rushed for a touchdown and Temple threw the other of his four touchdown passes to Nathan Hughes, who also added a pair of interceptions on defense, made seven tackles and booted through all five extra-points.

Temple, meanwhile, is putting up numbers that put him on pace with his proclaimed goal of 40 touchdown passes this season. The senior has thrown for nearly 1,000 yards already this season and 18 touchdowns.

His top target, Smith, whom he combined with on a five-touchdown game in the D-IV playoffs last season, has 11 touchdown receptions this season on just 21 total receptions.

The team is a senior-laden outfit with 27 upperclassmen leading the pursuit of the school’s first-ever section football title. Santana hasn’t won a Grossmont League championship this century but could be considered the team to beat as the highest-rated team currently in the Grossmont Valley League.

The Sultans also have already defeated the current No. 2 team in the division, Serra, which ended defending state division champ San Diego’s 15-game winning streak last Friday night. That should give an indication at the level of success Santana could achieve this fall.

Vincent Memorial looked every bit the part as the Division V favorite in a road win in the East County at El Cajon Valley just last week. The Scots have a potent passing duo in quarterback Hernan Olivas and wide receiver Max Diaz.

The Scots are very good and certainly have a right to think they can upset the Sultans, but Santana has outscored its opponents, 203-32, this season… SANTANA, 34-20.

Oaks Christian (2-3) at No. 1 Helix (3-1) – Put all the talk of the Highlanders’ possible 1-4 start to rest. Helix completed the sweep in the “Gauntlet Series” by defeating previously co-No. 1 St. Augustine last Friday night at Mesa College, 44-38.

The Scotties rocketed to a 38-10 lead behind a pair of touchdown receptions by Keionte Scott from senior quarterback Kamryn Brown, along with 271 yards and a touchdown from senior Fatto Noa, as Helix staked its claim as the current county best.

Jeremiah Fletcher had the game’s first touchdown with a 25-yard scoop-and-score fumble return, while senior quarterback Delshawn Traylor had a 62-yard rushing touchdown.

The Highlanders get a tough test against the perennial power from Westlake Village this week, but this year’s version of the Lions, which is ranked “just” 31st in the Southern Section, will have to pull a sneak attack against a team riding the wave of beating its top two section rivals in consecutive weeks.

Oaks Christian has lost to respected foes Alemany and Murrieta Valley this season, as quarterback Jameson Wang and wide receiver Ty Shamblin have a handful of Division I offers. Wang has nearly 1,000 yards of total offense this season and has accounted for nine touchdowns (7 passing), while Shamblin has 32 catches.

These teams met in the Southern California Regional championship game in 2017 as the Scotties prevailed, 28-13, thanks to three interceptions by the Helix defense and a 62-yard touchdown run by Noa.

Helix will need to remain focused after two huge wins in order to avoid an upset by high-caliber opponent… HELIX, 34-29.

Mira Mesa (1-3) at No. 5 Steele Canyon (4-0) – The Cougars achieved another milestone this week when they were rated No. 2 in the section in the first release of the in-season Division I power rankings.

The position, while lofty, is a precarious one.

Steele Canyon could play its way into the Open Division’s four-team format but loops in the team’s strength of schedule may require a perfect regular season to do so, so there is practically no margin for error, especially against any team not named Helix.

Last Friday, the Cougar defense deflated another opponent, as Antoine Walker recorded three interceptions in a 21-14 win at Otay Ranch.

Steele Canyon senior quarterback Jeremy Mendez-Gal, whose production has seemingly increased every game, passed for a career-high 234 yards, while senior Chris Carter caught a touchdown pass and ran for another.

The Cougars may have a better defense than those top contending teams in the section. Junior linebacker Colton Guerrero had 12 tackles against the Mustangs, while senior safety Luis Alvarado had seven solo stops, and senior linebacker Cameron Ewert had five solo efforts.

Cougar senior Chance Johnson had a 31-yard touchdown reception and made six solo tackles on defense.

The Marauders have been a good matchup for Steele over the past several years but there’s a sizeable advantage for the Cougs this time around. Senior running back Elijah Thomas gets more than 50 percent of Mira Mesa’s touches.

The Cougars have won the previous two matchups by scoring 52 points each time… STEELE CANYON, 35-21.

No. 12 Madison (2-2) at No. 9 Grossmont (4-0) – The Foothillers had a Homecoming pep rally on morning local television then defeated Valley View, of Moreno Valley, 38-0, with a 38-point first-half last Friday.

Grossmont now gets its toughest opponent of the season in a rematch of a playoff game last November when the Hillers upset the Warhawks, 44-42, thanks to a late touchdown pass by Jaime Odom to Brody Schicker.

The duo has already connected for five scores this season, as Odom has thrown for 14 scores and over 1,200 yards in four games and Jaime recently became the third Grossmont quarterback in the past decade to throw for over 5,000 yards.

Foothiller junior running back Robert Tucker has 10 touchdowns, including his fifth rushing touchdown of the season in the win last week.

The shutout was Grossmont’s first in two years, as Chris Alba and Cam Sanderlin both had nine tackles, while Matt Mellinger finished with seven tackles.

It should be noted that Steele Canyon defeated Madison on the road earlier this season but fellow Grossmont Hills League contender Granite Hills lost at the Warhawks’ field a week later.

Grossmont is currently rated between those two conference rivals, although the Hillers will enjoy a distinct home-field edge, playing its fifth-straight at Lt. Adams Field… GROSSMONT, 34-32.

No. 15 Granite Hills (3-1) at Southwest (2-2) – Granite Hills is coming off of a shutout win two weeks ago, 20-0, over Westview, behind a defense led by Jeremiah Satberry, Michael Wallace, Zoseph Cuero, Matt Millum and Ethen Bishop.

Junior quarterback Justus McComb rushed for 115 yards two touchdowns and senior wide receiver James Johnson had 10 receptions for 114 yards in the contest. Johnson has 32 catches for over 400 yards this season.

The Southwest Eagles lost at West Hills, 34-14, in the season opener but come in with a two-game winning streak, however, this one should be one-sided in Granite’s favor.

Following this game, Granite Hills will host Steele Canyon and Grossmont to open the Grossmont Hills League and can make a statement right away at home… GRANITE HILLS, 42-14.

Kearny (2-2) at Valhalla (2-2) – The Norsemen are in the Division III playoff picture but could use a win against the higher-rated Komets before the rugged Grossmont Hills League schedule.

Valhalla junior Hussein Bakir did his best impersonation of senior teammate Keegan Baker, busting off a 58-yard touchdown on the second play of the game last Friday to help the team to a 14-0 lead, however, host Mount Miguel overcame the deficit with a 33-12 second half and handed the Norsemen their second-straight defeat, 46-28.

Baker rushed for nearly 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including his own long run, a 70-yard score which gave Valhalla a 21-19 lead just over a minute-and-a-half into the third quarter. Baker has nearly 800 yards rushing on the season with 11 touchdowns.

The Komets defeated visiting University City last Friday night, 49-27, while the Norsemen defeated those same Centurions, 34-20, in the season opener in southeastern El Cajon.

Kearny junior running back Nico Estrada is averaging nearly 200 yards per game on the ground, as well, while senior quarterback Mario Alves has eight touchdown passes and over 750 yards so far this season.

The computer ratings would suggest that the Komets are sure favorites here but Valhalla’s improvement may have not found the measure of the analytics just yet… VALHALLA, 31-29.

Sweetwater (1-3) at Mount Miguel (2-2) – The non-league contest was originally scheduled as a road game for the Matadors, but will be played at Mount Miguel’s field since Sweetwater’s turf was in need of likely replacement before the season even started. The Red Devils are playing some home games at Hilltop High, but the Lancers are at home this Friday night.

Matador quarterback J.D. Laverdiere accounted for seven touchdowns in a win over the Norsemen last Friday, including four rushing scores.

Laverdiere is putting up 300-yard games like Dan Fouts, as he passed for 351 yards in the win over visiting Valhalla. The junior has over 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns already this season.

Wide receiver Jahiem Allen-Pompey had 10 receptions in the contest, good for 246 yards. The senior now had 10 touchdown receptions and nearly 800 yards receiving from Laverdiere this season, making up one of the county’s most prolific pass combos.

The Matadors may have moved into top contention for the Valley title, along with the Sultans but Mount Miguel’s defense may need to continue its improvement in time for that sudden league showdown with Santana next week.

Quincy Snipes Jr., Julius Ford, and Loyal Acree did a good job in the second half against the Norsemen, helping limit Valhalla to just 12 points after halftime.

The Red Devils, coached by former NFL punter Bryan Wagner, are coming off a 48-0 loss to the Sultans in Santee two weeks ago. The Matadors are just a couple of spots ahead of Sweetwater in the final four spots of the Division IV playoff picture so they can’t afford a slip up here.

Julian (1-2) at Foothills Christian (5-0) (at Seau Field) – The Knights won on the road, 60-8, over the Borrego Springs Rams in an Ocean League game last Friday and are the 13th-ranked 8-man team in the state.

Foothills led just 8-0 after one quarter but scored 52 points in the second and third quarters combined to lead 60-0 heading into the fourth. Senior Carter Hallahan had 17 tackles (6 solo) and an interception to lead the Knights.

Senior quarterback Tony Mroz had over 200 yards of total offense and accounted for five touchdowns, including three on the ground, in the win, which improved FCHS to 2-0 in league play.

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