East County Sports

Highlanders still East’s best team





By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

GRANITE HILLS —- With apologies to unbeaten West Hills, the Helix Highlanders capped the regular season as the top football team in the Grossmont Conference, taking total control early to defeat host Granite Hills, 49-35, on Friday (Oct. 29) at Valley Stadium.

Dominating early, the Scotties led 14-0 in less than three minutes, they posted touchdowns on three consecutive snaps in the second quarter, seemingly able to hit the “ON” button whenever they felt like it.

Senior running back Christian Washington raced for more than 200 yards for the fourth time this season, collecting a season-best 256 yards. He also casually collected a cool five touchdowns before halftime.

Among his four rushing scores, Washington was never touched on two of his romps, then barely grazed on another TD, all buoyed by a commanding offensive line —  LT Cameron Faiai, LG Matt Head, C Ryan Mason, RG Orlando Nambo, and RT Ahlijah Davis — giving the Scotties (7-3 overall, 3-0 league) another Grossmont Hills League championship, the school’s sixth straight varsity banner.

Washington heads into the postseason with an East County-leading 1,388 yards, moving into position to become the eighth Helix back to achieve 1,500 yards on the ground in a single season this century.

The most unusual aspect of this game came just prior to halftime when the ballclubs combined to score on the first play from scrimmage over five consecutive possessions.

Already leading 21-7, Helix gained its largest lead of the contest when Washington took a handoff up the middle, stepped through a pair of tackles, and raced 49 yards with 3:07 remaining in the second quarter.

Following the kickoff, Granite Hills answered with a double pass.

Quarterback Dominico Tomasello tossed a lateral to motion-receiver Isaiah Haasten, who fired a bomb to a wide-open Derek Edmund for a 65-yard score.

Following the kickoff, Helix needed one play for sprint Washington to sprint a game-long 60 yards on another rush up the middle to make it 35-14. The three scores took just 34 seconds off the clock, but there would be more.

Granite Hills countered in a 73-yard haul by sophomore Josh Zander, who beat both safeties for a grab of a Tomasello bomb.

However, Helix again pressed the button on the game’s fifth score in as many snaps. Running a similar deep-pass pattern, Xavier Van beat the cornerback and hauled in a 56-yard pass from quarterback Ryland Jessee.

Van finished with three receptions for 137 yards and a pair of TDs, while Jessee, a sophomore, finished with 262 yards on 15-for-18 passing and three scores.

The scoring spree saw the squads combine for five touchdowns over a span of 67 seconds.

Of course, Granite Hills tried to answer back, but a low snap was fumbled for a loss.

The balance of the contest featured many Helix reserves, allowing the starters to rest and prepare for the CIF playoffs.

Samson Atuatasi and Travis Ford had sacks for the Highlanders, while Washington recorded an interception.

The victory assured the Scotties of the top seed in the Division I field.

Granite Hills (4-6 overall), which had the league’s best overall record during the 2021 sporing season, went winless in three GHL starts.

The Eagles posted more than 350 yards in offense, with 124 coming on double-pass “gadgets” plays, or in the second half.

The 10th-seeded Eagles will open the San Diego CIF Division I playoffs on the road against the seventh-seeded Oceanside Pirates next Friday.

Helix received the top-seed in the division and will host the winner of a matchup between the other Grossmont Hills rivals – ninth-seeded Grossmont and eighth-seeded Steele Canyon.


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