East County Sports

Highlanders wary of Avocado’s success

Helix sophomore offensive lineman Ryan Mason. / P.J. Panebianco

2021 EAST COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL

EAST COUNTY FEARLESS FORECASTER

 

EastCountySports.com staff report

 

LA MESA – Given the fact that the El Camino Wildcats have been around since 1976, you would think that they might have met the Helix Highlanders more than once in the postseason.

The meeting came in 1993 when the Wildcats came to La Mesa and knocked off the Highlanders, 22-12, in a Division II quarterfinal game in a matchup of head coaching legends Jim Arnaiz, of Helix, and Herb Meyer, of El Camino.

At the time, it marked the third straight year that the East County’s highest-seeded team got knocked out by a North County team on its own turf.

Said Meyer at the time: “It sounds like you’re putting other people down — and I don’t mean to do that — but there are some teams that (the Highlanders) have played where they haven’t had to play as hard as we have. Our guys are a little more battle-hardened.”

That’s not to say that this Helix club, the top seed in Division I, can’t match up with the visitors from the Avocado League, but given the way the Grossmont Conference performed against the out-of-conference competition in the quarterfinals, the Scots should take the upset alert seriously, heading into Friday night’s contest.

The Highlanders were without their leading rusher – Teneil Ethridge – in that ’93 game but sophomore Marty Graham stepped up to rush for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.

Helix, however, will have one of the premier backs in the county lining up against the Wildcats in this one.

Senior Christian Washington, the Grossmont Hills League’s Offensive Player of the Year, produced career highs with 337 yards and five touchdowns in Helix’s Division I quarterfinal win over Grossmont, 41-24, last Friday.

And the Highlanders, who come into the game with a 7-3 record, are certainly battle-tested despite falling short against three of the state’s best clubs.

Talk about a youth movement, the Highlanders placed two sophomore offensive linemen – Ryan Mason and Anthony Gash – on the All-Grossmont Hills League first team.

The Scotties also had four underclassmen on the All-GHL first-team defense, including linebackers Puka Noa and Kairo Kahananui.

El Camino (7-5) was pretty well thumped by Grossmont in a Week 2 matchup on La Mesa, 35-22.

It should also be noted that the Wildcats were upset by La Costa Canyon, 28-17, in a Week 7 Avocado League meeting but El Camino came back to exact revenge on the Mavs last week, 30-20, in Carlsbad for an impressive road win.

The top three teams in the Avocado League made of three-quarters of the Open Division field, something the Scotties’ openly aim for.

The ‘Cats also beat regular Helix rivals Oceanside and St. Augustine in successive weeks before last week’s win over the team that finished just ahead of them in the Avocado.

El Camino senior quarterback Kiah Reid has over 2,000 yards of total offense. He’s thrown eight touchdowns passes and rushed for seven scores.

Wildcat senior linebacker Mackavelli Malotumau is one of the county’s elite defenders. He will be watching for Washington for sure.

The winner will face the Madison-Lincoln survivor in the championship game at Escondido High next week.

The all-time series is 6-5-2 in favor of the Wildcats, but this century, it is tied at 2-all, with the games played between 2002-05, as the home team won all four… HELIX, 27-23.

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