East County Sports

Tenth championship the Highlander way

Helix celebrates following its win in the San Diego CIF Open Division championship on Saturday.

Helix senior Cameron Brown looks to throw on Saturday. / photo by Christopher Smith



(1) HELIX 28, (3) CARLSBAD 21


By Jim Lindgren

Special to EastCountySports.com


CHULA VISTA – Somehow, they find a way. Somehow, they overcome adversity. Somehow, they come up with big plays. Somehow, they win.


Helix senior Keionte Scott following a play on Saturday night. / photo by Christopher Smith

To borrow a Clint Eastwood line from the movie Heartbreak Ridge: “You improvise. You adapt. You overcome!”


The Helix Highlanders, once again, did just that on Saturday night when they rallied in the third quarter and beat Carlsbad 28-21 to win the Open Division championship of the San Diego Section at Southwestern College’s Devore Stadium.


“This one is huge,” coach Robbie Owens said, “because this team had to persevere.”


After a scoreless first half with both defenses dominating play, Carlsbad scored on the first play of the third quarter on an 80-yard catch-and-run by Cole Wright.


Top-seeded Helix (11-1) answered with three touchdowns in the next seven minutes to secure its 10th section title in school history. It was quick and stunning for No. 3 Carlsbad (10-2) and the approximate 8,000 in attendance.


On the Highlanders’ first series of the second half, Christian Washington took the first carry 23 yards. Quarterback Kamryn Brown tucked and gained 13 yards on a run. Washington then picked up eight yards, and then the sophomore tailback burst up the middle for a 36-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7.

After a sack by Jerry Riggins on Carlsbad’s next possession, Keionte Scott intercepted a pass at the 30-yard line and raced untouched for a Pick-6 TD to give the Scotties a 14-7 lead.

Helix celebrates a play.

“I read it and reacted,” Scott said. “My team needed a big play, and I got one.”


Four plays later, John Carroll jumped in front of a receiver at the 38-yard line, intercepted the ball, broke a few tackles and scored for a 21-7 Helix lead with 5:09 to play in the third quarter.


“Those back-to-back interceptions were backbreakers,” Carlsbad coach Thadd MacNeal said. “Give them credit. They made some big plays.”

After a three-and-out defensive stand, Helix drove 66 yards in eight plays and took a 28-7 lead on a 2-yard dive by Alejandro Van Holten at 10:36 of the fourth quarter.

Carlsbad rallied late, getting a 10-yard TD run from Paolo Barack with 1:34 left. The Lancers’ Wright then recovered an onside kick and six plays later, Barack scored on a 2-yard run to make it 28-21 with 0:18 left to play.


A final onside kick, however, bounded out of bounds, and Helix needed only to kneel on the final snap to secure its 10th straight win and a spot in the state playoffs, which will be announced on Dec. 1.


After six games this fall, Helix had to overcome the loss of Elelyon Noa, the No. 5 all-time rusher in section history with 5,835 career yards. Noa sustained a left foot injury that required surgery and ended his season with 1,085 yards and 11 TDs.


“Obviously, you lose the best player in the county, that was a big obstacle to overcome,” Owens said. “In our first team meeting after we found out Noa was done, we told everybody in the room they would have to step up.


Helix makes a tackle on Carlsbad on Saturday. / photo by Christopher Smith

“You look at what we’ve done since he went down, it’s pretty amazing. I’m really proud of this group.”


Before the season even began, the Highlanders lost their starting quarterback, Geoffery Schrock, to a rare nerve disorder in his foot. Wide receiver Kamryn Brown was running the scout team at quarterback in preparation for the opening game against San Bernardino Cajon, and Owens gambled by naming Brown the new starter.


Brown responded by throwing for 1,404 yards and 16 TDs.


The Highlanders’ only loss came against Herriman (Utah) in Week 2, a 26-19 setback in overtime. They then went on to beat Cathedral Catholic, which was ranked No. 9 in the nation at the time. Helix beat St. Augustine, then state power Westlake Village Oaks Christian before reeling off a 5-0 mark in the Grossmont Hills League, including a comeback win over Steele Canyon in the regular-season finale.


In the Open semifinals against St. Augustine, the Scotties were being shut out and trailed 7-0 when Riggins blocked a punt, and Scott scored on a 10-yard run with 2:22 left. They won the game 21 seconds later on a 28-yard interception return TD by Samuel Stewart IV, a dynamite basketball player who came out for football for the first time this summer.


On the first day of summer prep, Scott showed up as a transfer from Las Vegas because his school there, Democracy Prep, was switching to 8-man football.


“He’s a huge difference-maker,” Owens said. “Two guys – Kamryn Brown at quarterback and Keionte showing up on our doorstep – they made all the difference.”


Helix senior Leandre Rayle blocks against Carlsbad in the San Diego CIF Open Division championship game. / photo by Christopher Smith

Please forgive Owens for loving his dudes. For years, he has called Noa “the best player on the field every time we play.” He now calls Scott “the best player in the county.” He says this of Carroll: “In my mind, he is the defensive player of the year. He’s such a playmaker, a downhill linebacker who has worked his tail off for us.”


Owens has high praise for his offensive line as well. Cezer Valdez, Leandre Rayle, Noah Viloria, Shawn Martinez and Anthony Lombardo cleared the way for Washington to gain 160 yards on 19 carries. He now has 1,107 yards and 15 TDs on the season.


Delshawn Traylor got 33 yards on six carries, and Van Holten added 28 yards on five attempts. Brown was never sacked.

“One big play after another,” was how Washington described the third quarter. “I got one, and our defense came up with two really big plays.


“It feels amazing. We were supposed to get one (title) last year, but we got a bigger one this year.”


Helix head coach Robbie Owens (right) with San Diego CIF commissioner Jerry Schniepp during the awards presentation. / photo by Christopher Smith

Helix was playing in its sixth consecutive championship game, five in the Open Division. The Scotties lost to St. Augustine, 21-20, in overtime last year in the Division I game when a fumble on a potential 2-point conversion in overtime left them disappointed.


“This is amazing,” Traylor said, “especially what happened last year on this same field. To win at a higher level, oh my goodness, this is awesome!”




Open Division – Final

At Southwestern College

Helix 28, Carlsbad 21

Carlsbad 0 0 7 14 – 21

Helix 0 0 21 7 – 28


Third Quarter

C – Wright 80 pass from Sayin (Hawkins kick), 11:45

H – Washington 36 run (Laing kick), 10:05

H – Scott 30 interception return (Laing kick), 6:53

H – Carroll 38 interception return (Laing kick), 5:09


Fourth Quarter

H – Van Holten 2 run (Laing kick), 10:36

C – Barack 10 run (Hawkins kick), 1:34

C – Barack 2 run (Hawkins kick), 0:18



                    C             H

FIRST DOWNS         18            15

TOTAL NET YARDS     333           258

NET YARDS RUSHING   98            238

NET YARDS PASSING   235           20

Com-Att-Int         15-33-3       4-9-0

PENALTIES-Yards     2-5           7-55

FUMBLES-Lost        0-0           1-0



RUSHING: Carlsbad: Young 15-57, Barack 5-43, Chavez 3-18, Sayin 4-(-20). Helix: Washington 19-160, Traylor 6-33, Van Holten 5-28, K.Brown 4-18, Scott 1-(-1).

PASSING: Carlsbad: Sayin 11-23-162-3, Geraghty 4-10-73-0. Helix: K.Brown 4-9-20-0.

RECEIVING: Carlsbad: Wright 5-101, Whillock 3-59, Nelson 3-22, Young 2-27, Dewhurst 1-11, Vassau 1-15.

Helix: Scott 3-19, Washington 1-1.

TACKLES-ASSISTS-SACKS-TOTAL: Carlsbad: Whillock 1-9-0-10, Barnes 2-7-0-9, Davis 2-6-0-8, Vassau 2-4-0-6. Helix: Carroll 1-7-0-8, Traylor 5-2-0-7, J.Brown 5-1-0-6, Scott 3-3-1-6.

INTERCEPTIONS: Helix: Scott, Carroll, Riggins.


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