East County Sports


Helix senior Xavier Van. / Nicole Noel - SDFNL




By Ramon Scott




SAN DIEGO – The Cathedral Catholic Dons are probably not getting the respect they deserve as the county’s second-ranked team.

The Dons, clearly the strongest-rated team in the San Diego Section in the latest computer ratings, were placed behind the undefeated Carlsbad Lancers in the local media poll, which was actually one spot higher than their No. 3-ranking last week.

The Helix Highlanders, meanwhile, may also feel downgraded with its current No. 6 section ranking despite their undefeated start. A 2-0 Helix team would rarely find itself looking up at a handful of teams, including three with one loss.

The two section rivals resume the county’s premier high school football series on Friday night at Manchester Stadium starting at 7.

Despite a subtle shift in the Gauntlet series matchup to the Dons of late, the Highlanders have had the upper hand since the teams have continuously been rated among the county’s top teams. Helix has won 9 of the last 13 games, including a 2-1 record in CIF games, since 2009.

While Cathedral may have received a downgrade by voters after a 43-point out-of-section loss to current state top-five Corona Centennial, the Dons smashed Chaminade, of Mission Hills, by 33 points in their Honor Bowl win last Friday.

The Scotties had their game with Mater Dei Catholic last Friday canceled due to health protocols within the Crusader program after taking care of business against Otay Ranch by two touchdowns the week prior.

Cathedral’s top two backs rushed for nearly 200 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s win, while the Highlanders have possibly the top rusher currently in the county in senior Christian Washington, who is averaging over 200 yards per game and has scored six touchdowns in two starts.

The Dons also have a highly-rated quarterback in Charlie Mirer and an elite pass rusher in Jaxson Moi, who had three sacks last week.

Helix’s pass rush has also been strong so far, as sophomore Kairo Kahananui isn’t far from becoming a well-known name.

The computers might actually suggest that the Dons could be favored to win this one by several touchdowns, but that couldn’t possibly be the case, could it?… CATHEDRAL CATHOLIC, 34-21.


CHRISTIAN (3-0) at No. 11 SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (3-0) (at Clairemont High), 7 This strong and long section rivalry has great significance with both clubs coming in undefeated.

The Eagles are the higher-rated team of the two clubs despite the difference in divisions but the Patriots, who are the ones playing in the higher division, certainly look every bit their equal or more as the teams square off once again.

Christian stopped the passing game of the Mission Bay Bucs last Saturday and put on their own scoring circus, taking a 41-0 lead by halftime.

Patriot junior quarterback Jake Davila has over 500 yards of total offense and has accounted for nine touchdowns this season.

Christian’s Joey Merritt and Hunter Provience torched the Bucs but the Pats may need their other skill players to return to form in order to get past SFC.

Santa Fe Christian is just outside the top 20 in the computer rankings just ahead of Steele Canyon, but the Patriots will be the Eagles’ highest-rated opponent thus far.

The Eagles have rushed for just shy of 1,000 yards already this season and are averaging almost eight yards per attempt.

That’s where Aaron Shebloski and Co. come in for CHS.

Shebloski blew up the Bucs last week, creating two turnovers and making eight tackles.

The programs met for a CIF title 10 years ago with Shane Dillion-led Christian coming out on top on Mason Powell’s game-winning field goal. The Patriots lead the all-time series, 16-14, including 8-4 this century.

Santa Fe Christian, one score better than CHS here by the computer ratings, has quickly made its way up the polls, but an upset by the Patriots could vault them close to the county top ten… CHRISTIAN, 31-28.

No. 14 EASTLAKE (2-1) at No. 16 GRANITE HILLS (2-1), 7 – The Eagles get another chance to prove that they are still the team to beat in the Grossmont Hills League. However, they must regain their confidence at home against a strong, respected opponent that is currently on their level.

Granite Hills was defeated at home last week by Madison, 34-14, which moved into the top ten with the win, but the Eagles will try to avoid a similar fate against the visiting Titans.

Eastlake trailed 14-0 last week at La Habra but earned an 18-14 win. However, the Titans will be playing their third straight road game when they visit Valley Stadium.

The Titans have a section player of the year candidate on defense in Tre White, who had five sacks last Friday. In the Eastlake secondary, Jayden Cortell has five interceptions this season.

Zak Darling scored on a pair of touchdown runs against the Warhawks, but the Eagles need to cut the turnovers immediately, especially against the opportunistic Titans.

Eastlake comes in the higher-rated team in both the media poll and computer rantings but the Valley Stadium edge surely evens things up.

Surprisingly, this is the first meeting between the two teams. Touchdowns could be hard to come by… GRANITE HILLS, 14-13.

No. 15 GROSSMONT (2-1) at RANCHO BERNARDO (1-2), 7 – The Foothillers could easily put the 40-7 loss at Warren, of Downey, behind them after going up against one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, but Grossmont players were more likely using the lopsided defeat as fuel to their fire after being knocked out of the top ten.

Giovanni Burns caught a 10-yard TD pass from Trenton Giles for the Foothillers’ only score in their first trip out of the section in 25 years. Grossmont had less than 100 yards of total offense against a very strong opponent.

The Broncos beat San Marcos on the road to open the season, then had back-to-back losses to Ramona and Torrey Pines, so it hasn’t exactly an easy schedule.

Rancho Bernardo is averaging 200 yards per game on the ground, while Grossmont is churning out just over a meager 30 yards rushing per contest.

This is the first meeting between these schools, as well.

The power ratings would suggest the Hillers could win by at least a couple of scores but experience says this one will rate much closer… GROSSMONT, 23-21.

SANTANA (3-0) at SWEETWATER (0-2), 6:30 – The Sultans have won three straight after Brayden Breshears turned in 189 yards and two touchdowns after replacing an injured starter last Friday.

The Sultans’ running backs were close to 300 yards rushing against the Mar Vista Mariners in a 40-27 victory at Santana.

Sweetwater doesn’t pass the ball at all, so it could be difficult to put up more than a score or two here not sure, as long as Santana doesn’t turn the ball over early like it did last week, allowing two defensive touchdowns to the Mariners.

Still, the way Santana mowed its way to victory shows the Sultans are strong on the ground, and they should be able to have their way with Sweetwater’s defense.

Santana’s Dylan Anderson has an interception in all three games so far this season, but to get one here would be a challenge. The Red Devils have attempted five passes all season.

With wins over Coronado and Montgomery already, Santana should be able to beat the Red Devils on the road.

Sweetwater opened with a loss at Grossmont, 37-14, then a 13-7 road loss at Coronado. The Islanders lost at home to the Sultans in overtime, 10-7, in the season opener.

The Sultans lead the series 3-1, with SuHi’s win coming in a 1970 CIF playoff game, 34-18.

The power ratings have the Sultans by a couple of touchdowns and the Red Devils would have to show a return to their spring form to close that gap here.

In the last full regular season in 2019, the Sultans rolled the Sweeties, 48-0… SANTANA, 24-13.

WEST HILLS (3-0) at ESCONDIDO (2-1), 7 – West Hills improved to 3-0 last week with its victory at Olympian and is easily the most overlooked team in the East County.

Against Olympian, West Hills’ Braden Oberg passed for two touchdowns and ran for two touchdowns. Oberg has over 500 yards of total offense in three games.

The Wolf Pack defense had three sacks and two interceptions in the contest.

West Hills’ Tyler Haley kicked two field goals, including a 43-yarder, which is the longest reported in the county this season.

Elias Sanchez caught a touchdown pass for the Wolf Pack.

West Hills senior Max Conaway is averaging nearly 100 yards per game receiving and has five touchdowns, as West Hills has 16 touchdowns so far this season.

Escondido edged Westview last week, 27-20, with over 200 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the ground. The Escondido defense had four takeaways against the Wolverines.

West Hills won meetings in each of the last two full regular seasons in 2018 (24-7 at home) and 2019 (14-7 at Wilson Stadium).

The computers have the Pack winning this on by at least a couple of scores, but beware the Cougars’ in their own den… WEST HILLS, 21-19.

STEELE CANYON (1-2) at ST. AUGUSTINE (0-3), at Mesa College, 7 – The Cougars had a major come-from-behind win over the San Marcos Knights in the form of one Major Givens.

Givens, had a huge night with 245 yards and three touchdowns, including two scores in the fourth quarter, as Steele Canyon got out of town with a stunning 29-23 victory for a much-needed first win of the year.

Givens is averaging nearly 140 yards so far this season but hadn’t reached the end zone in the first two games.

The Cougars were clutch. Givens has proven he can carry the load plenty of times but its tough for backs, even explosive ones, to orchestrate comebacks, but he and the Cougars did just that against the Knights.

Steele Canton quarterback Mathew Barton and Nathaniel Gillis hooked up on another long pass of 46 yards in the win, while Cougar quarterback Eric King had a touchdown rush.

The Saints, meanwhile, have losses to El Camino, Oceanside, and Santa Margarita, of the Trinity League last week, 39-10.

Saints have a couple of 200-yard rushers so far this season and are two-thirds of their offense has come on the ground, although only one of their five scores has come via the run.

Senior Justin Stearns is playing like a first-team, all-county player despite St. Augustine’s surprising slow start. He has two sacks, two interceptions, and is averaging seven tackles per game.

St. Augustine is trying to avoid its first 0-4 start since 1981 when the Saints finished 1-8.

Saints lead the series, 4-0, including a home win over the Cougars in the 2018 CIF Division I quarterfinals, 28-21.

The Cougars are just a couple of spots behind St. Augustine in the computer rankings despite having the only victory of the two teams… ST. AUGUSTINE, 17-14.


EL CAPITAN (2-1) at No. 18 RANCHO BUENA VISTA (3-0), 7 – The Vaqueros were stunned by the Coronado Islanders last Friday night in Lakeside.

El Capitan allowed a pair of early touchdowns to the Islanders to put themselves in a hole. Coronado had just two touchdowns in two games before upsetting the Vaqueros.

Antwone Yokley hauled in three touchdown passes for El Cap, but the rally fell short, 33-28.

Quarterback Bruce Newland came in the game as starter Savigon Yokley moved to the receiver spot as the Vaqueros started taking more deep shots in order to get more playmakers downfield, and it paid off.

El Capitan star Alex Fa’aea was knocked from the game in the first quarter. He is a real difference-maker for the Vaqueros on both sides of the ball.

The Longhorns are a team on the rise after shutting out Vista, 28-0, as they are 3-0 for the first time in eight years.

RBV star running back Gine Trapasso has nearly 600 yards this season and nine touchdowns, including three against the Panthers last week.

The Computers have the ‘Horns just about a touchdown better than El Cap right now… RANCHO BUENA VISTA, 20-15.

MOUNT MIGUEL (0-1) at CRAWFORD (0-3), 6:30 – The Matadors return to action after two weeks off, which included a health protocol cancellation by an opponent two weeks ago, and a bye week.

When last seen, the Matadors moved the ball well and matched yardage with Patrick Henry early on but succumbed to a lopsided score, 42-7.

Sophomore Davian McGowan appears to be a promising Mount Miguel back.

The Matadors rushed for 145 yards against the Patriots, including 65 yards from McGowan on a scoring drive in the fourth quarter against Henry. McGowan also scored the touchdown.

On defense for Mt. Miguel watch for junior Sterling Rutledge and senior Joseph Madonia.

The Colts have losses to Mar Vista (28-7), San Diego (55-7), and Montgomery (7-0) thus far.

Crawford junior quarterback Gavin Nguyen had over 350 yards of total offense this season, including over 200 on the ground.

Senior Mohamed Mohamed has three sacks and a forced fumble for the Colts this season.

This is another surprising first-ever meeting.

The computer rates the Matadors a couple of touchdowns, maybe three, better than the Colts right now… MOUNT MIGUEL, 27-13.


No. 17 MT. CARMEL (3-0) at VALHALLA (1-2), 7 – This is just poor timing for the Norsemen, as the Sundevils are currently one of the county’s fastest-rising under new head coach Drew Westling.

Mt. Carmel already has over 1000 yards of total offense in its three victories, which includes road wins at Central Union and Valley Center, and a home win over Patrick Henry. MCHS also has forced 10 turnovers in the three victories.

The Sundevils have completed 67 percent of their passes.

Mt. Carmel junior three-star tight end prospect Jayden Virgin may end up on the other side of the ball for good one day. He has 6 1/2 sacks so far this season.

The Norsemen got a touchdown pass last week when A.J. Cornthwaite caught a pass from Tommy Logan but San Pasqual won by six touchdowns on Valhalla’s home turf.

Valhalla junior defensive end Khalil Plummer had a sack, three tackles, and an assist in yeoman’s duty last week. Norse sophomore running back Dustin Avant showed great promise.

The Sundevils lead the series 4-0 with the last meeting coming in 2015 in a CIF Division I semifinal, 27-14, when the Norsemen were guided by current head coach Charles Bussey.

Mt. Carmel is expected to win by at least three touchdowns here, according to the computers, but the Sundevils are a rising storm… MT. CARMEL, 35-7.

CLAIREMONT (0-3) at EL CAJON VALLEY (0-3), 7 – The Braves suffered a heartbreaking loss against Vincent Memorial in El Centro last Friday night, 14-12. The Braves did everything but win against the Scots.

El Cajon Valley head coach Nick Osborn said the team executed as well as it could against the fine program of Vincent Memorial, which was off to a surprising 0-2 start itself. The game was moved to a “neutral” site, but the Braves still had to travel the 8, especially on the quiet bus ride home.

Kalil Gordon scored both touchdowns for the Braves, who rushed for close to 200 yards with Gordon and Ahmed Sohail Ameer Hussein leading the way.

The Braves led 12-7 at the end of the third quarter.

Yasir Blair and Demarrion White had sacks for the Braves.

Clairemont forced a couple of turnovers last week but lost to Maranatha Christian, 20-6. The Chieftains also lost to Mar Vista, 59-6, and have been outscored this season, 131-12.

These teams first met in 1959, although the Braves lead the all-time series just 6-3. Some of the early games between the schools were played all over the place, including Aztec Bowl, Balboa Stadium, Mesa College, and even Helix High.

The Braves are expected to win this game, according to the computer ratings. The Chieftains are the lowest-rated team in the section… EL CAJON VALLEY 19-12.

MOUNTAIN EMPIRE (1-1) at MISSION BAY (1-1) – The Mountain Empire RedHawks will try to return the favor from a 2019 matchup that saw the Mission Bay Buccaneers take home a 55-22 victory out of Pine Valley.

The RedHawks are back in action this week following a bye.

After blitzing Maranatha Christian in the opener, MEHS lost to heated-rival Holtville, 22-14, in a thriller.

Mountain Empire has surpassed two Grossmont Valley League teams in the computer rankings and is just a couple of notches behind a third GVL club.

The Bucs were stopped here in El Cajon last Saturday night by the Christian Patriots.

Mission Bay has one of the top quarterbacks in the section in senior Clash Orsborn.

Bucs junior receiver Jacob Sloan scored four touchdowns against El Cajon Valley in a season-opening win.

Orsborn will have the spotlight over young RedHawk signal-caller Corey Vann, but the sophomore will be watching the veteran closely.

Vann’s completions have averaged over 17 yards this season, and four of them have resulted in touchdowns.

Mountain Empire senior Larry Clark is hard to keep your eyes off of. He impacts nearly every play on the field.

The Computers have the Bucs by a little less than a touchdown and the RedHawks recently nearly always exceed the algorithm’s expectation… MISSION BAY, 27-24.

FOOTHILLS CHRISTIAN (0-2) at ARMY-NAVY ACADEMY (2-1) – The Knights lost their season-opener at home to the Warriors so this rematch will represent the Pacific League opener for both teams.

Army-Navy shoved the smaller, younger Foothills Christian team around in a 38-0 win at Seau Field.

The Knights have shown a freshman at quarterback this season in Ben Hernandez, who has completed 63 percent of his passes.

Junior Trey Clark is just shy of 100 yards of total offense in two games for FCHS.

Foothills junior Collin Perrott has registered four sacks in the two starts.

Army-Navy leads the series, 3-2.

The computers quickly adjusted the Knights rating and they are more than two touchdown underdogs now to the Warriors… ARMY-NAVY, 30-13.


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