East County Sports

EAST COUNTY FEARLESS FORECASTER – Week 9

Granite Hills senior Tanner Vielguth. / Don De Mars

2021 EAST COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL

EAST COUNTY FEARLESS FORECASTER

By Ramon Scott

EastCountySports.com

 

LA MESA – With just three weeks left in the regular season, the Grossmont Hills League circuit will finally get underway tonight.

The respected league of four teams needs just six games to determine a champion but with such strong teams and very few games, odds that a tie for the championship can easily occur.

Currently, Helix is the official defending champion, having won the GHL title in 2019.

However, Granite Hills won a mythical league championship this past spring in a shortened season delayed due to the pandemic. The Grossmont Conference didn’t officially recognize football league champs.

Respected computer ratings, official section rankings, and local media polls would indicate that the Highlanders are the team expected to claim the banner.

Helix will host Steele Canyon and Grossmont, before taking on Granite Hills at Valley Stadium in an appropriate finale.

The Eagles are the second-highest-rated team in the GHL, according to the official CIF power rakings.

Steele Canyon is the other of the four to host two league games, getting the Eagles and Foothillers at home.

The computers rate the Cougars and the Hillers as a relatively even matchup at this time, with Grossmont just slightly ahead in the CIF’s ranking system.

All four teams are in Division I (the only East County teams in Division I) and assured a playoff berth.

 

No. 20 GRANITE HILLS (4-3) at GROSSMONT (2-5) – This is the 50th all-time meeting between the Eagles and the Foothillers.

It’s Senior Night and Alumni Night at Grossmont High.

The Foothillers are currently on a five-game losing skid, the program’s longest such streak this century. Grossmont once lost 17-straight in the late 90s, which seems impossible when your name is Grossmont.

Grossmont rallied to tie 12th-ranked Poway in the second quarter last week but the Titans scored the touchdown of the second half in a 20-14 finish.

The Foothillers are an underdog here but not by much, according to the ratings. The home field could even the playing field even more for the Hillers.

However, if you look at comparable opponents to Granite Hills over this losing streak, Mira Mesa and Rancho Bernardo were rated similarly, and those teams defeated the Hillers, however, Mira Mesa just edged Grossmont, 13-7, and the Marauders have virtually the same rating as the Eagles coming into the week.

The Foothillers are relying heavily on quarterback Trenton Giles, who is accounting for much of the offense as the team’s leading rusher.

“We’re looking forward to entering league play,” said Grossmont head coach Chris Holmes, who left his post as an assistant to Granite Hills head coach Kellan Cobbs to take the Foothiller job. “It should be an electric game facing my former team. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play a good school.”

Granite Hills is off a tough loss at St. Francis, of Flintridge, last week.

It was Homecoming for St. Francis, and the Golden Knights had some Homecoming cooking, scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter after the Eagles led 19-13.

Isaiah Hasten has been one of the top emerging receiving threats in the East County since the season began for Granite Hills. Joaquin Thomas Jr. caught a touchdown pass in the loss last week.

The Eagles’ quarterbacks last week were Parlan Sanders and Dominic Tomasello, who combined for 200 yards and three touchdowns.

Granite Hills appears confident with any of its three varsity quarterbacks that have seen action this season.

Grossmont is 8-3 this century against Granite and had won four straight meetings between the two until Granite Hills won last season in the spring, 20-7.

In 2019, the teams played a wild one, won by the Hillers, 33-32.

Granite Hills leads the all-time series, 26-22-1… GRANITE HILLS, 23-21.

 

STEELE CANYON (1-6) at No. 9 HELIX (3-3) – Helix’s losses are to the Nos. 3 and 5 teams in the state and to the No. 1 team in the computer rankings San Diego County.

The Highlanders had a solid performance against Mission Viejo last week, playing a back-and-forth game until the Diablos pulled away for a 38-21 victory at Arnaiz Field.

Senior Christian Washington has been a front-runner for player of the year this season, locally, but expect to see more versatility from the Scotties during the league campaign.

Helix won the spring meeting, 14-0, as Washington rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown but the key to the game was the Cougars’ seven turnovers, one of which resulted in a fumble return for a touchdown.

Helix is currently sixth in Division I and even a sweep of the GVL schedule may find them short of the Open Division bracket. Should Cathedral Catholic defeat Lincoln in the season finale, the Highlanders and Hornets may end up as the top seeds in the Division I playoffs.

The Cougars have taken their lumps with five of their six losses coming to teams with at least five wins already this season.

Countering Washington is Steele Canyon junior Major Givens.

Givens handles as much of the team’s rushing load as his counterpart in green.

The two backs are the top runners in the East County currently.

Steele Canyon is likely to appear to close the gap against their Hills League rivals but more likely, they aren’t that far behind the other clubs, despite trailing all three in the current computer and official section numbers.

Helix leads the all-time series, 17-3, including 11 of the last 12 encounters. Of course, SC memorably won, 22-21, in 2018 to force that rare three-way share of the league title, which included Granite Hills… HELIX, 28-14.

EL CAJON VALLEY (2-6, 1-3 GVL) at MOUNT MIGUEL (2-3, 1-2 GVL) – Mount Miguel almost pulled off an upset against visiting El Capitan last week but the Matadors didn’t appear to be in over their heads against the hot Vaqueros.

Mount Miguel did a great job on Homecoming only to fall, 35-28.

The Matadors have ratcheted up their running game despite the limited number of contests this season.

The teams will be aiming for a second Grossmont Valley League win this season and the winner will enhance their playoff position.

Mount Miguel should be in a good position currently to qualify for the playoffs and could even be awarded a home game but need to win this game for sure against the capable Braves.

El Cajon Valley knows what’s coming with Matador runners Ruben Hernandez and Davian McGowan but they have to prevent the breakaway yardage.

Last Friday, the Braves, without their best player, trailed big early in a 49-14 loss to undefeated West Hills.

The Braves are currently in a qualifying position for the postseason and may still squeak in if they can’t win here, but a win against the favored Matadors would make sure of it.

Mount Miguel has won 10 straight meetings since ECV won, 14-13, in 2001, and Mount Miguel leads the all-time series, 46-7-1… MOUNT MIGUEL, 35-14.

VALHALLA (2-5, 1-2 GVL) at No. 15 EL CAPITAN (6-1, 3-0 GVL) – The Vaqueros are on a four-game winning streak for the first time since 2016.

El Capitan played well under the pressure put on by Mount Miguel in its win last Friday.

The Vaqueros have a strong enough running game to take care of this one without much risk with Savigon Yokley, Angel Diaz, and Xavier Peace to make sure this one isn’t as close as last week’s road contest.

El Capitan, despite its 35-0 victory over Santana plus its win last week, still trails Santana and West Hills in the San Diego CIF Division III power rankings.

In Division III currently, it is still Santana No. 4, West Hills No. 6, and El Capitan No. 7. The top four teams receive first-round byes but CIF can adjust its rankings for clear discrepancies.

Valhalla’s five losses are to teams with a combined record of 28-7 but the Norsemen are coming off a bye following its second win of the season – a 41-25 Homecoming victory over El Cajon Valley.

The Norseman passing combo of Tommy Logan to A.J. Cornthwaite is one of the top producing long touchdown connections among East County teams. They hit twice for big scores of 44 and 63 yards against the Braves.

Randall Shamon, of Valhalla, was dominant defensively against ECV, which jumped out to a 14-0 lead.

These teams have split the last 10 meetings but El Cap leads all-time 24-18-1… EL CAPITAN, 41-14.

 

WEST HILLS (7-0, 3-0 GVL) at MONTE VISTA (0-7, 0-3 GVL) – West Hills doesn’t have a great history when playing at Monarch Stadium but that will not matter this year.

In games at Monte Vista, the Monarchs have won seven of eight all-time meetings with the lone West Hills win coming here in 2005.

The Wolf Pack continues to click on all cylinders in the run-up for their two-game showdown series with Santana and El Capitan which will decide the Grossmont Valley League championship.

While a lookahead is certainly possible, the current standing of these clubs still won’t allow for anything close to an upset.

An impressive note to the Wolf Pack’s school-record nine-game winning streak is that the team’s offense continues to expand roles to include more players in the yardage and scoring equation without sacrificing the team’s overall production.

West Hills senior quarterback Braden Oberg, who has 13 touchdown passes with no interceptions, has the second-highest passer rating among East County quarterbacks, trailing only El Capitan’s Savigon Yokley. Those two will lead their teams on the final night of the regular season.

The Monarchs weren’t necessarily out of contention against title contender Santana last week in a 20-7 loss in Santee.

Monte Vista led 7-0 early after solid running back Aiden Robey rushed for a touchdown in the second quarter.

However, the Monarchs are having a historically low season, starting o-7 for the first time since 1964.

The all-time series is led by the Monarchs, 15-7, but this century is just 7-6 Monarchs… WEST HILLS, 35-14.

No. 7 SCRIPPS RANCH (6-0, 1-0 Eastern) at CHRISTIAN (4-2, 0-0 Eastern) at Valley Stadium Scripps Ranch is the No. 1-ranked team in the SDS-CIF Division II power rankings, while Christian is fourth in the section’s Division II power rankings.

The Patriots haven’t been seen since Sept. 24 when they were dispatched by a La Jolla team that seemed to finally be on their projected track.

Christian’s other loss was to a team rated similarly to the Vikings in undefeated Santa Fe Christian, those teams are strong but not in the class of these Falcons.

The Patriots, unfortunately, has to cancel their opening league game against Mira Mesa last week due to health protocols, although the Marauders were able to pick up a victory against last-minute replacement Moorpark, 20-12, on Friday.

Christian High could still put in a claim to the eventual Eastern League championship despite its cancellation but it would need to pull off this upset to even entertain those thoughts.

The Patriots’ Jake Davila is a 1,000-yard passer so far this season and possesses as many weapons as his opposing signal-caller in this matchup.

The Pats are expected to need to trade points with a Scripps Ranch offense that has been possibly the most efficient in the county with quarterback Jax Leatherwood, who has thrown 21 touchdown passes with no interceptions this season.

Top target Conor Lawlor has nine of those TD receptions.

It’s the Patriot defense that would need an extraordinary performance in order to make

Christian leads 4-1 in the all-time series and won 61-19 in 2017, and 61-7 in 2016, so there’s that… SCRIPPS RANCH, 41-24.

CALIPATRIA (2-5, 0-2 Desert) at MOUNTAIN EMPIRE (3-4, 0-1 Desert) – These longtime rivals are in search of their first league win of the season.

Mountain Empire is squarely on the Division V playoff bubble and can’t afford to lose this game to the Hornets, who are considerable underdogs to the RedHawks here.

Do-it-all star Larry Clark was hoping to have his cast removed from his lower arm this week, enabling him to produce at maximum Larry Clark speed. The star has been frustrated in his ability to wrap up despite strong performances on both sides of the ball even with the handicap.

The RedHawks are still in contention for a league title, as well, but would need to sweep its final three opponents.

Mountain Empire has a second meeting with Holtville on deck but this time it counts in the Desert League standings.

Calipatria got rocked by Vincent Memorial 41-7 last week, and MEHS lost to Vincent by just a 16-14 score.

Mountain Empire is pretty stingy to teams it can handle having recorded all three of its wins by shutout. Calipat can be lumped in with those three RedHawk opponents in terms of its rating.

Still, the RedHawks will need to watch out for running back Alex Fernandez, of Calipatria, who scored on a 31-yard run last week which actually tied the game early against Vincent at 7-all.

Calipatria’s two wins are over low-rated teams, including Clairemont, who it defeated by just a 21-12 count.

This is a long-running series with Calipatria leading 30-28-2 all-time, but Mountain Empire has won seven of the last nine meetings… MOUNTAIN EMPIRE, 28-7.

SAN YSIDRO (3-3) at FOOTHILLS CHRISTIAN (3-3) – Foothills Christian is coming off a bye following its thrilling 20-19 win over Maranatha Christian and is technically on a three-game winning streak.

Both teams are 3-3 coming in, although the Knights have a win by forfeit, mixed in after an 0-3 start.

San Ysidro has big wins over weak teams, Clairemont, Hoover, and Castle Park and the Knights are only slightly better than those teams, according to the computer rankings.

The Cougars have a good offense, having amassed over 1,800 yards this season.

Comparatively, the Knights don’t have 1,000 yards, although they have played one less game on the field.

The Knights’ Jaden Gascon, a junior, had a big game on both sides of the ball in the win over the Eagles.

While this is a non-league affair, it is nearly a win-and-in playoff situation for the team that comes out on top.

Foothills Christian is in 10th in the official SDS-CIF Division V playoff rankings, while the Cougars are 11th, but the computers see this one quite differently.

The old rating system has these teams separated by at least three touchdowns and the eye-test might say that is a more plausible result than an upset… SAN YSIDRO, 32-15.

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