East County Sports

Hillers make the plays to beat Cougs

Gio Burns, of Grossmont, on a reception against Steele Canton. / Andrew Tikkanen




EastCountySports.com staff report


SPRING VALLEY – Grossmont High senior Joe Garcia kicked the go-ahead 32-yard field goal with 40 seconds left in the game as the Foothillers advanced to play Helix in next week’s San Diego CIF Division I quarterfinals with a 17-14 win over another league rival, Steele Canyon, on Friday night.

The Cougars were able to move down the field and lined up for a game-tying attempt on fourth down but went for a fake, and the long pass was just too far for the diving Steele Canyon receiver.

Just last week, Steele Canyon won a Grossmont Hills League game against the Hillers, 23-10, on the same field.

For Garica, who is 22-for-22 on extra-point attempts this season, it was just his second made field goal of the campaign (in seven attempts). Both of the successful boots came in the last two weeks against the Cougs. He made a 39-yarder last week.

This time, the Foothillers turned the tables by beating the Cougars at their own game – with defense.

“It was a team win and great triumph for the program,” Grossmont’s first-year head coach Chris Holmes said. “No secret plays or magic formula. What you saw was great defensive execution and us making more plays than them.

“That’s what our whole key to victory – win the momentum battle and make more plays than them. Very proud of the composure we showed in the fourth quarter on all three phases of the game.”

Ninth-seeded Grossmont led at halftime, 7-0, on a 59-yard interception return for a touchdown by Cristian Espino.

Major Givens scored on a 7-yard touchdown run with two minutes left in the third quarter to tie the game, then he added a 13-yard score in the fourth quarter to give the Cougars the lead.

Trenton Giles scored on a 7-yard touchdown run to the right in the fourth quarter with seven minutes to play which tied the game at 14-all, capping a great drive by Grossmont.

“The fourth quarter really is a testament to how much we have grown this season as a team,” Holmes added. “I think the momentum and the belief that we would win came very early with Cristian Espino’s interceptions return for a TD. That paired with our defense being more physical than Steele.”

Earlier, Grossmont (4-7) stopped Steele Canyon just outside the goal line to turn away the Cougars on a second-quarter drive.

Giles passed for 214 yards but the Foothillers had just three yards on the ground.

Grossmont’s Gio Burns accounted for 128 yards on 7 receptions – both season highs for the senior.

Offensively, we struggled and hurt ourselves often but we made enough plays in the second half,” Holmes said. “Gio Burns was electric.”

and Joe Garcia kicked a 32-yard FG with 40 seconds to play to lift

Givens rushed for over 200 yards for the second time this season. He had a monster season for Steele Canyon (3-8), going for over 1,500 yards with 12 touchdowns on the ground.

No. 1-seeded Helix (6-3) will be the Foothillers’ opponent in the quarterfinals.

The Highlanders have won 26 consecutive games over Grossmont following Helix’s 29-14 win over the Foothillers on Oct. 22.

While many will likely bring up the perpetual “Campbell Musket” trophy for this rivalry matchup, that award goes to the winner of the team’s annual regular-season meeting.

The teams recently met in a Division I quarterfinal playoff contest in 2018 with Helix taking it 68-7 after a 27-0 win in the regular season.


O Trenton Giles went 16 of 27 for 238 and rushed for a 7 yard TD.   Joe Garcia was the magic of the night with his game winning field goal with 40 seconds left hitting it from 32 yards out.


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