East County Sports



Santana running back Kayvion Jones. / photo by Ken Todd

The top two East County teams in the local top ten media poll are set to square off tonight to highlight a slate of intriguing Grossmont Conference matchups.

That matchup is between the ninth-ranked Granite Hills Eagles and 10th-ranked Grossmont Foothillers.

Meanwhile, the co-feature from the Grossmont Hills League features the No. 11-ranked Helix Highlanders at the No. 14-ranked Steele Canyon Cougars.

This is no ordinary football season.

Without a championship to be awarded, the Hills League will feature key games each week, with some rematches involved in a few weeks.

Figuring out which team is best could be determined by the series of results, or it could be debated as just part of the story of the pandemic season.

No. 10 GROSSMONT (1-0) at No. 9 GRANITE HILLS (2-0) – Last season, this was the game of the year in the East County when the Foothillers got out of Valley Stadium on the Eagles’ Homecoming night with a 33-32 win. Grossmont was ranked ninth in the county entering that game.

Justus McComb has passed for six TDs so far in two games and Joaquin Thomas has 211 yards for nearly an average of 20 yards per carry. Eagle back Austin McVey has over 100 yards so far, as well.

Thomas and McComb both have three rushing TDs each so far, too.

Matt Keeley has six receptions for Granite, as five different Eagles have TD receptions, including Angel Almazon, who has five receptions for 147 yards and three scores.

Almazon is prime to be the top big-play receiver in the East County so far.

“Angel Almazon really stretched the field for us,” Granite Hills head coach Kellan Cobbs said after last week’s win. “Zach Burton really impressed me on defense.

“I have really been happy with our depth on the offensive line. We know the level of play is going up in our schedule over the last four weeks.”

Freshman Jordan Glaze had a team-high five solo tackles and a sack for the Eagles, while Joe Holt had three tackles for loss, as Granite Hills downed El Capitan, 48-21.

McComb threw for two TDs and ran for another in the win.

Robert Tucker had an 82-yard kickoff return he had 191 yards rushing and three TDs in the first half of the win last season.

McComb, meanwhile, passed for 267 yards and three TDs in the loss to the Foothillers.

Grossmont quarterback Justin Brown, who hit a grand slam earlier this week for the Foothiller baseball team, passed for two touchdowns to Nathan Acevedo last week, while junior teammate Trenton Giles threw two scores to Jawad Rivera. Tucker rushed eight times for 81 yards as the Hillers beat West Hills, 44-3.

Joseph Garcia kicked three field goals and was 5-for-5 on PATs, while Cavin Howard made six tackles and Blake Keeling caused and recovered a fumble.

These two teams are scheduled to play again in April as the window is closing to find other opponents in the region.

Granite Hills leads the series, 27-22-1, but Grossmont leads this century, 8-2… GRANITE HILLS, 34-31.

No. 11 HELIX (0-2) at No. 15 STEELE CANYON (1-1) – In the”other” Grossmont Hills League game, the Highlanders and Cougars still have league bragging rights to compete for with the Hillers and Eagles.

The Highlanders have losses to two teams currently in the county’s top five. The Cougars lost to the top team in the county last week.

The Cougars certainly matchup up in this one.

Steele Canyon’s Leon Gillis had a brilliant interception with two minutes to go in the first half against Cathedral Catholic last week, as the No. 1 Dons won, 49-0.

Quarterback Elia Kirisimasi was thrown for a loss last week but he has proven to be the worthy leader of the offense since Week 9 of last season. He accounted for three touchdowns in the first half against the Highlanders in their showdown last season.

Helix quarterbacks are completing just 30 percent so far, so the Scots are sure to rely on Christian Washington, who has over 250 yards in two games but the Highlanders have had little else on offense.

Meanwhile, Steele boasts a good, young back in Major Givens. The sophomore went for 86 yards of offense against the Dons last Friday.

This will be the 20th meeting, as the Scotties lead, 16-3… STEELE CANYON, 19-17.


EL CAPITAN (0-2) at SANTANA (1-0) – The El Capitan Vaqueros and the Santana Sultans will meet in a football game for the first time since 2013… El Cap won that one, 42-0.

Santana worked Kearny last Friday, 49-16, as Kayvion Jones rushed 17 times for 162 yards and three scores.

Meanwhile, sack master Michael Richter added 118 yards rushing with two touchdowns..

Quarterback Drew Temple was 11-of-20 for 181 yards and a touchdown to Jared Forster, who had 9 receptions for 142 yards.

“There is a difference with (brothers) Nate (Temple) and Drew but both are superstars,” Forster said. “I have been playing with Drew since freshman year so we definitely have a connection. This is a different team but we expect the same results. It makes my job much easier having players like (lineman) Andrew Golembiewski and Michael Richter.”

El Capitan has had the upper hand this century, winning 11 of the 13 matchups before the recent hiatus.

“Our team is looking forward to this game, especially our seniors,” Forster said. “It’s nice that Santana and El Cap get to compete against each other again. We’ve been looking forward to this game ever since it was scheduled.”

Xavier Peace had a 98-yard kickoff return for El Cap in the loss to Granite Hills last week.

El Capitan leads the all-time series, 31-15… SANTANA 28, EL CAPITAN 17.


VALHALLA (0-2) at MOUNT MIGUEL (1-0) – The oldest continuous annual series in East County will commence once again, as these two teams have competed against each other every season since VHS started varsity football in 1975.

Mount Miguel edged El Cajon Valley, 21-13 last Friday as J.D. Laverdiere rushed for over 200 yards and had two rushing touchdowns.
Daelen Hayden caught seven passes for 86 yards from Laverdiere, and senior Joseph Castillo had two interceptions for the Matador defense.
Valhalla has a good receiving corps but haven’t necessarily been given their opportunity to shine. Marsalis Childs has four catches thus far for the Norsemen.

Hussain Bakir had 77 yards against Monte Vista last week for Valhalla.

The Matadors lead series 27-18, but the last 34 meetings, it’s 17-all… MOUNT MIGUEL 21-17.

MONTE VISTA (1-0) at WEST HILLS (0-1) – Monte Vista shutout Valhalla, 34-0, last week as back Lamonta Jenkins rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder.

Monte Vista intercepted three Valhalla passes.

In West Hills’ loss to Grossmont, junior Dylan Snyder had a 34-yard reception and Brandon Kelley had an interception on Grosmsont’s first play of the game.

Juniors Evan Patterson and Trevor Imbimbo recorded sacks for the Wolf Pack.

West Hills’ first-ever Grossmont Conference game came against the Monarchs, who defeated the Wolf Pack, 28-14, in a game played at Helix in 1989. Last century, the Monarchs won eight of nine meetings, but these two clubs have split the last 10 matchups… MONTE VISTA, 21-17.

EL CAJON VALLEY (0-1) at SWEETWATER (1-0) – At Gail Devers Stadium, the Braves will look for their first win following last week’s close decision to the Matadors.

El Cajon Valley’s Joe Malone threw for 121 yards, including a 71-yard score to Jayden Barnett.

Sophomore Yasir Blair had an interception for the Braves in the game.

Last Friday, Sweetwater beat Chula Vista, 36-7, rushing for 440 yards, as three players went over 100 yards, including Mario Villa’s 165 yards and two touchdowns.

The Red Devils lead this series, which dates back to 1962, 10-4-1, but have split six meetings (one forfeit) since 2000… EL CAJON VALLEY, 20-19.


No. 17 CHRISTIAN (1-0) at SAN DIEGO (0-0) – The Christian Patriots are going to take on the San Diego Cavers following their big second half at Mira Mesa last Friday night.

The game was tied 8-all at halftime but the Patriots won, 30-14.

Christian High senior quarterback Gabe Krug passed for a touchdown and rushed for a touchdown in the second half.

Senior Jack St. Fleur had a 22-yard run touchdown run in the first minute of the game as Christian took an 8-0 lead following a conversion run. St. Fleur left the game with an injury, however.

Christian got a TD run by junior Nate Bettis late in the third, and Hunter Provience caught the touchdown from Krug

Krug cited the on-field leadership of Eric Markowitz following last week’s win.

“I always had trust in our team when we were not performing the way we wanted,” Krug said of the sluggish start. “We were able to feed off each other’s energy. I thought everyone was able to keep each other up throughout the game to make sure we played at the level we knew we would.”

San Diego has yet to be seen on the field after the first two weeks but will get a good test here… CHRISTIAN, 28-21.


LA JOLLA COUNTRY DAY (0-1) at MOUNTAIN EMPIRE (0-1) – The RedHawks Lost 14-0 to Vincent Memorial last Friday, but the Scots blank everybody these days, posing 13 shutouts under current curator David Wong.

Larry Clark had six carries for 59 yards in the fourth quarter last week running behind a line that included two freshmen in a shuffled starting front.
Clark also forced a fumble at the goal line and made the recover inside the 5.

Marcus Smith five receptions from quarterback Corey Vann for MEHS.

This is the third-straight home game for the RedHawks.

LJCD lost to Bishop’s last Saturday, 21-18, as the Torreys passed for nearly 300 yards but had no ground game to speak of. One LJCD receiver had 14 receptions.

The Torreys have won 5 straight in the series but this is the first meeting since 2010. Mountain Empire last beat the Torreys in 1998 by a 52-27 margin… LJCD, 28-14.



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