East County Sports

Van moves Scotties into championship

Helix senior Xavier Van runs with the ball against El Camino. / P.J. Panebianco




EastCountySports.com staff report


LA MESA – Helix High senior Xavier Van deserves to be included in the county’s elite class of football talent.

Van, casually considered an alternate threat to touchdown-making back Christian Washington and an after-thought on some all-county lists, scored three touchdowns on Friday night to help lift the Highlanders to a 28-17 San Diego CIF Division I semifinal win over El Camino at Hart Stadium.

Those who think less of the two-way impact player might want to reconsider their nominations.

With Helix trailing 10-7 at halftime, Van caught touchdown passes of 42, 25, and 34 yards, the last on a halfback pass from Washington, as Helix advanced to face a most-anticipated matchup with the third-seeded Lincoln Hornets on Saturday at Escondido High at 7 p.m.

“We had a great week of practice and we watched a lot of film, so we were very prepared for them,” Van said. “El Camino was very physical and had some pretty good athletes, but we feel like we can play with anyone in the county at this point.”

Sophomore quarterback Ryland Jessee threw the first two deep shots for the Scotties, a team that does most of its scoring with its superstar back.

Jessee has 11 touchdown passes in Helix’s last eight games. He finished the night with 155 yards through the air.

Washington was so-called limited to 125 yards in the semifinal playoff contest by the fifth-seeded Wildcats, which possesses a pretty respectable run defense.

The back, who still seems to be in a push to still earn the respect he deserves, also rushed for a 5-yard touchdown in the second quarter after El Camino led 10-0.

Although a skilled route runner with great hands, it didn’t take much for Van to score a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter as the Wildcats appeared to do what many prep football observers have done much of the season.

They forgot about Van.

Twice, Van slipped into the second level uncovered and his alert quarterback easily found him both times.

The first was a total gaffe by the EC defense, but the second required much more skill from Van, to be fair, who had less room to operate near the end line despite getting open in the back of the end one.

On Washington’s option pass, Van’s defender tripped trying to keep up with the receiver after the pitch to Washington shook things up.

Adren Parker had an interception for the Highlanders at the Helix 5-yard line with 56 seconds left in the first half.

Van, who more likely will be recognized county-wide for his season’s work on the defensive side of the ball, secured the victory with another pass interception late in the game. It was his fifth interception of the season.

Travis Ford, a sophomore, had a sack for the Highlanders.


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