East County Sports

CC: Olympians stop Gauchos after half

Julian Sanderlin helps bring down a Saddleback player on Saturday. / Nicole Noel


By Nick Pellegrino

ECS staff writer

KEARNY MESA —- Throughout the 20th Century, San Diego Mesa College was known as the school with All-America quarterbacks. During one particular five-year span, the Olympians saw four signal-callers — Steve Fairchild (twice), Matt Kofler, and Tony Riccidulli — cited among the nation’s best by J.C. Grid-Wire.

Not anymore, as Mesa is quickly transforming to one of the CCCAA’s leaders on defense.

For the third time in six starts this season, Mesa shut out its opponent in the second half, including Saturday’s (ct. 16) 31-14 decision over visiting Saddleback College of Mission Viejo in a National Conference/Southern Division ballgame at Merrill Douglas Stadium.

In capturing its division opener, Mesa (5-1 overall) is tied for second place with Fullerton, both a half-game behind front-running Golden West (5-1, 2-0), which smashed Southwestern, 45-0.

Even at 14-all at halftime, the Olympians’ first drive of the second half resulted in a go-ahead, 32-yard field goal by Dominic Camacho.

That’s when Saddleback hit a wall on offense, thanks to defender Julian Sanderlin, a sophomore out of Grossmont High, who recorded back-to-back big plays.

Sanderlin, a defensive lineman, registered an interception, returning the ball for a short 3-yard touchdown and a 24-14 cushion.

The next Gauchos drive ended on a third-down sack by Sanderlin, forcing a punt.

Two drives later, Mesa quarterback Gunnar Gray, found receiver Noah Araujo for a 29-yard score to put away the victory.

In the second half, Saddleback collected just 110 yards against Mesa’s defense, most of it coming after the Olympians held a double-digit lead.

In the first half, Saddleback scored twice within a 2:17 span of the second quarter on a pair of Drew Nash touchdown passes. covering 24 and 58 yards. However, take away both long pass plays and the Gauchos mounted a mere 248 yards for the contest.

However, Nash fumbled on the next drive, with the loose ball recovered by defensive lineman Ezra Christens to set up Mesa at the Gauchos-40. The ensuing 8-play drive was capped on an 8-yard TD gallop by Cael Patterson.

Mesa’s leading tackler was Kuino Makihele with five solo stops, followed by Willie Blanco and Charles Scott with four tackles each.



RIVERSIDE —- Only two community college football coaches from San Diego County have captured multiple state championships.

The first was the late Dave Jordan, of Grossmont College, taking state crowns in 1974 and 2005. The other is Tom Craft, who once guided Palomar College to a title, then took Riverside to the championship last season (2019).

On Saturday (Oct. 15), both Craft-coached ballclubs met, with Craft’s current team, the Tigers, taking a 47-21 triumph over the Comets. RCC claimed the 17-0 lead through the first quarter in the wire-to-wire decision.

However, Palomar kicker Landon Ogles made history by snapping one of the school’s longest and most historic records. Ogles, a freshman out of Rancho Bernardo High, booted a 56-yard field goal. The kick equaled the CCCAA state record, plus snapped the 1973 mark set by Tom Dempsey.

Despite being born with just half of his right foot, a specially designed cleat allowed Dempsey, out of San Dieguito High, to set an NFL mark that stood for decades until recent seasons. In the mid-1970s, Dempsey’s record was established as a member of the Detroit Lions, nipping host New Orleans on the final play of the game at Tulane University Stadium, where the Saints played before the construction of the Louisiana Superdome.

Palomar running back Tawee Walker tallied a pair of third-quarter touchdowns. Comets quarterback Zeke Payne (Rancho Bernardo) went 24-of-36 for 323 passing yards, a new season-high. Wide receiver Brandon Johnson (El Camino) led the Comets receivers with six receptions for 99 yards.

On defense, linebacker Vavega Sialoi (Vista) racked up 13 tackles. Defensive back Kris Sanchez (La Costa Canyon) recorded seven tackles and one pass breakup.

The Comets defense failed to register an interception, ending a streak of at least recording a theft in every game this season.

Riverside (4-2 overall, 1-0 conference) quarterback Jordan Barton had two touchdown passes, one to receiver Tye Moore and one to Jammal Houston.

Tigers running backs Lawerence Starks, Jordan Barton, and Jacquez Jones each had a rushing touchdown.

Palomar fell to 2-4 overall in dropping its National Conference/Central Division conference opener.



CHULA VISTA —- Despite the recent success of Southwestern College football, every once in a while, you lay an egg.

This was the case Saturday (Oct. 16), when Golden West College of Huntington Beach surfed away with a one-sided 45-0 decision over the Jaguars at DeVore Stadium.

For the Jags, it was their biggest setback since dropping the 2015 opener to Grossmont, 52-10. And the school’s first loss by shutout in more than a decade.

The Rustlers (5-1 overall, 1-0 conference), the preseason favorite to capture the National Conference/Southern Division race, limited Southwestern (2-3, 0-1) to a mere 150- yards in total offense.

Golden West mounted a 17-0 halftime lead, then scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to trigger the romp, defeating Southwestern for the third straight season since the programs were realigned into the same conference in 2018.

Golden West quarterback Jake Retzlaff, from Corona Centennial, was impressive. He passed for 262 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Tanner Branson.

Rustler receiver Nick Kennewell got open for seven receptions for 148 yards and the other TD reception.

Retzlaff rumbled in for one of three Rustler rushing touchdowns.

The Rustlers made a goal-line stop in the fourth quarter to keep the goose egg on the scoreboard.

Southwestern had three quarterbacks see action, including freshman Jaylin Crowell, who was making his debut.

Donnel Frazier had an interception for the Jaguars

Jaheem Williams had seven solo tackles, including one for loss, and a pass breakup for the Jags.

David Hafoka had a sack for Southwestern.


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