East County Sports

Matadors get second chance at Sultans

Santana against El Capitan last Friday. / photo by Ken Todd



EastCountySports.com staff report


SPRING VALLEY – Two teams with undefeated records match up tonight when the Santana Sultans travel to face the Mount Miguel Matadors at 7.

Both teams are 2-0 this spring.

This year’s Sultans are starting to resemble last year’s Sultans. Or at least those Sultans from 2019. Y’know, last season.

Santana smashed and slithered through one of its most successful seasons ever, culminating in a section division title game berth.

This team is rounding into a similar form. Unfortunately, the season is half over.

That makes tonight’s game all that much more interesting.

The Sultans come in as a road favorite but the Matadors have a chance to surprise. Santana, however, seems to be a pretty complete unit at its level.

The situation was similar between these two when they met in 2019, but the result was a resounding 56-21 win for the Sultans, who sliced and diced the Matadors’ defense.

Quarterback Drew Temple has been a perfect fit, of course, while the Sultans’ running game is just a strong as last year’s, if not even more formidable with Kayvion Jones leading the way.

Mount Miguel has the most prolific passing quarterback in school history, who has turned into be the busiest runner in school history.

J.D. Laverdiere, the school’s all-time passing leader, recently set a record for most carries by a ball carrier for the Matadors.

Mount Miguel has good defenders to concentrate on certain Sultan weapons, including JoJo Castillo, but do they have the depth defensively to slow Santana this time? … SANTANA, 35-21.


GROSSMONT (1-1) at No. 9 HELIX (1-2) – The Foothillers are positioned for a real chance at an upset victory against the Highlanders tonight.

But don’t unfasten that ol’ gun from the wall just yet.

Helix is the higher-rated team despite its two high-profile losses. Still, Grossmont has a pretty strong team, as usual, and is coming in off of last week’s 20-7 loss at now seventh-ranked Granite Hills, a game in which the Foothillers fancied their chances there, too.

The Foothillers even seem more polished than the Scotties on offense at this time with possibly more weapons than any team in the East County, however, they will have to contend with a defense that forced seven turnovers last week in a 14-0 win over Steele Canyon.

Helix has been relying on a strong running game led by back Christian Washington while it refines its passing game for the future.

Grossmont has had its ears pricked for other games against the Highlanders over the last few years only to be rebuked, and often quite soundly.

However, if there was ever a year… HELIX, 28-21.


WEST HILLS (0-2) at EL CAPITAN (0-3) – This isn’t hyperbole. This has to be the game of the season for these two teams.

The Wolf Pack and Vaqueros face off for the Tony Burner Trophy, and just as importantly, a first win of the season.

Both teams know what the opportunity represents.

Yes, the Pack can still look ahead to their city rival, but they will be considerable underdogs in that game.

The Vaqueros have played tough teams and are in need of a victory, as well.

The new perpetual award notwithstanding, these teams currently match up well.

Maybe, El Capitan is bigger, deeper, and at home but that is equalized by West Hills’ modest success over the last couple of years compared to the victory-starved Vaqueros.

Still, since it was announced that the game would be played in Tony’s honor – awarding athletic scholarships to both schools – the teams have traded victories… EL CAPITAN, 23-20.


CHRISTIAN (1-1) at MORSE (0-1) – Christian will have its hands full with the Morse Tigers and Oregon-bound back Byron Cardwell.

The Patriots have lost a half-dozen starters in two games. The injuries will hamper the club the rest of the spring.

Christian starter Gabe Krug went down awkwardly in the first quarter and didn’t return in a 20-18 loss to the young, but potent San Diego Cavers.

The Patriots’ third quarterback of the day, Jake Davila led the Patriots to a scoring play that resulted in the play of the week last Friday when a hook-and-ladder resulted in a long touchdown by J.C. Gustin.

These two teams are very evenly rated by the computers but the algorithm isn’t taking the Pats’ injuries into account.

Never put anything past Patriot head coach Danny Mitchell. He will usually prove to find a way. However, these Tigers seem a bit too much to tame at this time… MORSE, 27-16.


VALHALLA (0-3) at SERRA (0-1) – The Norsemen face a tough opponent but have the edge of having played three games thus far to just one game for its opponent.

Valhalla made a swift rally late in the game last week when Gavin Nagel returned an interception for a touchdown against Mount Miguel. Nagel had two interceptions in a 29-24 loss.

Serra is a pretty highly-rated team in its division and was up against a tough opponent last week in a shutout loss.

Serra defeated Santana in a section division championship game 16 months ago… SERRA, 34-17.


MOUNTAIN EMPIRE (0-3) at CRAWFORD (2-0) – The RedHawks have impactful players that have had some standout efforts this season.

Larry Clark and Marcus Smith can do just about everything on the football field for MEHS.

The result has Mountain Empire playing good, competitive football, despite their usual underdog status.

Unlike some of the lower division teams that get run over by good teams, those decent clubs have to earn their wins against the RedHawks… CRAWFORD, 26-13.



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