East County Sports

East County Fearless Forecaster – Week Two

Santana junior Keith Mizell returns a fumble for a touchdown. / Ken Todd




By Ramon Scott



LA MESA – Helix will get the Thursday Night Lights treatment in Week 2 when it hosts the Otay Ranch Mustangs at Hart Stadium tonight.

A few games around the county each week are being played on Thursday this season simply because there aren’t enough officials to conduct all the games on Friday.

One thing the switch to playing a day earlier does is put the spotlight on a few programs that will play a day earlier than usual.

The Highlanders don’t need the extra attention but they’ll be the top team in action this evening.

The sixth-ranked Scotties play Otay for the second-straight year following a 29-14 victory in the South Bay, also in Week 2, of last season.

This year, however, the Mustangs will be guided by a familiar name to East County football fans, as Brad Burton takes over as head coach at Otay Ranch for the second time. He also guided the Mustangs in 2007-08, going 11-9-1 over the two seasons.

Just as they did last season, Helix (1-0) opened the campaign with a victory over Mira Mesa, albeit in a much different fashion.

In a Week 1 victory over Mira Mesa last season, Helix rushed for 273 yards in a 28-20 home victory.

Last week, the Highlanders passed for 206 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-21 season-opening win over the Marauders on the road.

Meanwhile, the Mustangs were rocked at home, 37-7 by third-ranked Madison, a team they defeated in Week 1 last season, 19-14, at Madison.

That would point to Helix probably being a decisive favorite on Thursday night.

Helix senior tight end Quincy Herron tied the East County record for most touchdown receptions in a game with his four-score performance last week against the Marauders.

Herron now shares that record with about a dozen others, including former Helix great Allen Durden, who did it twice in 1980. Durden went on to be one of the top defensive backs in the country while at the University of Arizona.

The Highlanders’ offensive focus appears to have shifted to the air with junior quarterback Ryland Jessee and first-year offensive coordinator Taylor Genuser, a former professional indoor league QB who is also the head coach of the San Diego Strike Force of the Indoor Football League.

For all the Scotties’ success throughout the years, they’ve only had maybe a few quarterbacks of note, including three-time Pro Bowler Alex Smith, who was a teammate of current head coach Damaja Jones, and high school All-American Jim Plum, the father of current WNBA all-star Kelsey Plum.

The debate as to who might be Helix’s third-best QB of all time could include several of the past Scottie signal callers, especially those who have had postseason success, including recent champion Carson Baker.

Jessee has a strong offensive line in front of him that could allow him to have some great success this season, although Helix’s matchups with the top-tier teams are tough for practically every quarterback in the county.

Helix still is going to possess a potent running game. Junior Kevin Allen III is the man you haven’t heard of yet. He quietly went for 111 yards on 13 carries in the opener.

The Highlanders should have little trouble defensively against the Mustangs tonight, led by junior Jeremiah Savaiinaea.

Otay Ranch is a good team that was up against one of the top teams in the county last week.

They got an early deep connection from quarterback Makai Corpuz to sophomore Johnnie Welborne to tie the game at 7-all early before allowing 40 unanswered points to the Warhawks.

Mira Mesa passed for 146 yards and gained 234 yards against Helix last week.

Helix leads the all-time series, 2-1-1, winning the last two. The tie, which is the last tie in Scottie history, was 19-all in 2008… HELIX, 35-13.


Friday’s games


No. 11 Steele Canyon at No. 3 Madison – The Cougars’ Major Givens rushed for 232 yards and three touchdowns on just 14 carries in the season-opener last Friday as Steele Canyon routed invader Heritage, of Menafee, 41-30.

Steele Canyon’s Michael Dodds had a 17-yard TD reception from Joshua Herber, who passed for 113 yards. Mike Lindley had a 3-yard TD run and two catches for 72 yards.

Warhawks won 22-21 at Steele Canyon last season and Madison is expected to be one of the top teams in the county once again this season following the season-opening win over Otay Ranch.

Givens was held to just 66 yards on 19 carries in that one, while receiver Quentin Stevens had five receptions in that one.

Madison’s Tyson Bryant rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown, while Warhawk quarterback Reggie Johnson completed 7 of 16 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns to Madison senior Jake Jackson in the win over Otay Ranch last Friday.

Johnson and Jackson hooked up for a 31-yard touchdown in last year’s contest. Madison blocked a 52-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the game to seal the win.

Defensively, all-CIF returnee James Tivao made 13 tackles for Madison, including two for loss and forced a fumble. Teammate Lawson Minshew had seven tackles, a sack, and recovered a fumble for a touchdown.

Madison leads the series, 3-1, with the Cougar win coming in a 19-14 victory at the Madhouse in 2019… MADISON, 35-21.


West Hills (1-0) at Imperial (0-0) – The Wolf Pack, off a smashing victory at Grossmont, travel to face the Tigers, who will be making their season debut.

West Hills defeated Imperial, 21-7, in Santee last season.

The Pack almost pulled off a road shutout, as the Foothillers scored their first points on a touchdown with under a minute left in the game.

West Hills got touchdown runs from Diego Calderon, Collin Dill, and Nathan Stevens and a field goal from Tyler Haley. Haley also had a 52-yard punt.

This game figures to be closely rated as the teams are playoff contenders in Division III.

The Wolf Pack defense is for real with seniors Braden Wilson, Rye Schultz, and Gavin Condon.

Imperial out-scrimmaged Sweetwater at the San Diego Friday Night Light Classic preseason event two weeks ago.

The Tigers were 6-5 overall last season and were eliminated in the playoffs by Santana in overtime, 24-21. West Hills currently is rated above the cross-town rival Sultans.

Imperial does figure to be an improved club off last year’s squad.

West Hills is 2-2 all-time when traveling to the Imperial Valley, but this is their first trip to face the Tigers… WEST HILLS, 20-17.


Christian (0-1) vs. The Bishop’s (1-0) (at La Jolla) –  The Knights and Patriots simply have the best small-school series in the section, honestly.

Christian leads the series, 11-8, but the teams have met nine times in the playoffs, with The Bishop’s winning five times.

The Patriots will be able to score this week after getting shutout for the first time since 2018, and that was against Cathedral Catholic in a game that was halted due to lightning. The ninth-ranked Ramona Bulldogs knocked off the Patriots, 28-0, in a bit of a stunning result.

Before that, you have to go back to 2011 when the Pats suffered a 35-0 season-opening setback against the Hoover Cardinals.

The Knights-Patriots rivalry usually has been an offensive affair, although the teams haven’t met since the 2016 Division II championship game when the Knights won, 49-20, at Southwestern College. In 2010, the teams combined for 100 points exactly in a 56-44 Bishop’s win.

There is little doubt the Patriots have a top-tier offense against teams of their caliber but going up against a top ten team in Ramona last week proved to be futile.

Christian finished with just 135 yards of total offense.

The Patriots were led defensively last week against Ramona by seniors Brady Bingham (12 tackles) and Aaron Shebloski (10 tackles, 1 sack).

The Knights knocked off La Jolla, 28-7, with a strong defensive effort of their own, holding the Vikings to just 187 yards of total offense, including 75 passing.

Christian will be looking to build its confidence moving forward as much as it will be looking to win on Friday night… BISHOP’S, 31-20.

No. 16 Granite Hills (0-1) at Valhalla (0-1) – Give Granite Hills and Valhalla credit for trying to extend their rivalry on the football field but it just isn’t working out these days.

So, in the last four seasons, it’s 204-13 in favor of the Eagles. Last year, 62-0. Before that, 56-7. Then before that 43-6, and 43-0.

The series is Granite Hills, 31-17, but over the last 30 meetings it’s 15-all, and in the last 14 it’s 7-all.

Granite Hills fell short at No. 8 Poway, 31-19, after leading 10-0 last Friday.

Joaquin Thomas and Josh Zander had touchdown receptions for the Eagles, while Robert Petrich booted two field goals.

The Titans rushed for 217 yards against the Eagles.

The Norsemen fell to Hilltop, 28-14, in the head coaching debut for Wayne Cherry, an alumnus of Valhalla.

Trevor Dawood had a 74-yard fumble return for a touchdown for the Norse, while junior Dominic Silva had a 33-yard touchdown run.

Valhalla trailed 14-7 at halftime and 21-7 after three quarters, but this one will not be that close… GRANITE HILLS 49-7.


Grossmont at No. 12 El Camino – These two teams are meeting for just the second time in as many years.

Last year, the Foothillers took a 35-22 win at home as Grossmont got off to a 2-0 start.

Grossmont passed for 241 yards against the Wildcats, however, every single yard and every single point was accomplished by a now-graduated player.

The Hillers will need to pull off an upset to avoid a reverse of fate.

Grossmont was nearly shut out last week at Mashin Stadium by the West Hills Wolf Pack, 24-6.

The Foothillers got a touchdown pass from junior Hudson Herber to Nolan Kelly in the game’s final minute to avoid its first shutout since 2018.

The Wildcats defeated rebuilding St. Augustine, 29-13, as quarterback Carson Howard had 122 yards of total offense, passing for a touchdown and rushing for another.

If the Foothillers had trouble against West Hills’ stout offense, it doesn’t get any easier this week, as El Caimio features standout defender Braeden Franch, Tausulu Misaalefua Pe’a, and Taj Tavale.

The last time Grossmont opened 0-2 was in 2005. Why? Because the Hillers were 14-2 in their season openers before West Hills stopped them cold last week… EL CAMINO, 31-13.


El Capitan (1-0) at Hilltop (0-1) – The Vaqueros rolled through Canyon Hills at home, 37-6, to open the season.

The Vaqueros’ quarterback tandem of Bruce Newland III and Brandt Barker combined for 260 yards through the air against the rattle-less Rattlers.

Junior receiver Julian May had touchdown receptions of 54 and 38 yards, as El Cap beat Canyon Hills for the second-straight year on opening night.

Vaquero running back Angel Diaz helped provide some offensive balance with 66 yards on the ground.

El Capitan had five takeaways in the game, as Michael Segovia, Austin Cordeiro, and May each had an interception.

Segovia and sophomore Chance LaChappa both had a fumble recovery. La Chappa had two touchdowns, as well.

The Lancers won against another Grossmont Valley League team, 28-14, over the Valhalla Norsemen.

Hilltop rushed for 250 yards and four touchdowns, led by senior Jorge Garcia, who had 118 yards and two of the scores.

The Vaqueros won last year’s meeting, 42-0, in Lakeside and figure to be a considerable favorite even on the road against the improved Lancers… EL CAPITAN, 31-20.

Hoover (0-1) at El Cajon Valley (0-1) – The Cardinals and Braves entered the season rated right next to each other in the middle of the Division V power rankings. The two teams figure to be battling for playoff berths this season and this could be an important result for the two clubs.

Hoover won last season, 30-14, at Breitbard Field.

El Cajon Valley performed admirably, particularly in the first half, in a 27-13 loss at Mission Bay last Friday night. The score was tied, 13-all, at halftime.

Senior Kal-el Gordon rushed for 81 yards and two touchdowns for El Cajon Valley. He is also one of the team’s best defensive players, lining up as a linebacker.

The Braves rushed for 167 yards against the Buccaneers.

Mission Bay passed for 222 yards but Hoover doesn’t possess nearly the same firepower as the Bucs.

The Cards lost to Mountain Empire last week, 21-14,

The RedHawks had a tough stop slowing sophomore Sirdarius Autry, who rushed for 152 yards on 16 carries.

Hoover has maybe the best female player in the county in junior center Emi Martinez.

The Braves lead the all-time series, 3-2, but this one is probably close to a toss-up… EL CAJON VALLEY, 27-22.

Monte Vista (1-0) at Kearny (1-0) – The Monarchs snapped a 12-game losing streak last Friday night, ending the program’s longest skid since 1965 (15 games).

The Monarchs won behind their typical running game as backs Uziel Avalos, Matthew Felix, and Daniel Renteria combined for 296 yards.

Avalos, a senior, and Renteria, a junior, both scored a pair of touchdowns.

Monte Vista sophomore Alexander Villanueva had a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown.

The Kearny Komets also scored a win on opening night, 35-30, over San Ysidro.

Kearny sophomore Brodie Stump is one to watch. He passed for 312 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown. However, he did toss three interceptions.

Stump scored on a 6-yard run with six seconds to play for the winning touchdown.

Senior receiver Isaiah Sutton caught 13 passes for 204 yards in an eye-catching performance. In all, six different Komets caught at least two passes.

Senior Max Vaughn is a strong two-way player for Kearny. He had three receptions, including a touchdown, and added a sack last week.

Kearny won the initial encounter in 2012, 27-14. Since then, Monte Vista has had the winning way, 50-0, 28-27, 49-7, and 19-6. This is the first meeting since 2016.

This certainly will be a contrast of styles as Monte Vista rarely runs, while the Komets are passing at nearly a 3-to-1 ratio… KEARNY, 28-21.

Mount Miguel (1-0) at Chula Vista (0-1) – The Mount Miguel Matadors might have one of the top underclass passing combos in the county with quarterback Matthew Barton and receiver Jeremiah Castillo.

The pair hooked up three times for touchdowns last week in the Matadors’ season lid-lifter on Thursday over outmatched Sweetwater, 42-0.

However, the Matadors also have another threat on the outside in senior Chris Akridge, who scored the county’s first touchdown of the season on a short pass from Castillo that he turned into a touchdown.

Barton passed for 161 yards and five touchdowns against the Red Devils in his season debut. Last season, at Steele Canyon, Barton passed for just one touchdown.

Mount Miguel senior Jessie Murguia led the defense with a sack. The Matadors have three shutouts in their last nine games dating back to last season.

Chula Vista was in a thriller last Friday with La Jolla Country Day before falling, 30-27.

Spartan senior quarterback Jacob Pedroza had 225 yards of total offense and Chula Vista rushed for nearly 200 yards against the Torreys.

Sophomore receiver Elijah Gillespie had nine receptions for 66 yards for Chula Vista in the opener, accounting for about two-thirds of the Spartans’ passing offense.

Chula Vista senior Joel Zapata had 1 1/2 sacks, while teammate Franky Olmedo, a junior, had an interception against LJCD.

The Spartans lead the series, 7-3, but the Matadors have won three of the last five after trailing 5-0 (1957-61, the first four in the original Metropolitan Conference before the Grossmont Conference was created for the 1961 season).

Mount Miguel is the likely sleeper in the East County this season… MOUNT MIGUEL 28-14.


Santana (0-1) at Montgomery (0-1) – Santana has won seven-straight meetings with the Aztecs, including four consecutive wins when playing at Montgomery.

It was a tough opener at Point Loma for the Sultans but there was a highlight moment that belonged to Sultan junior Keith Mizell, who picked up a fumble and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown.

For all the Sultans’ success of late, this one will be a tough game against the Aztecs, who dropped their opener, 13-6, at home versus Coronado.

The Sultans have senior quarterback Nick Leger. He’s protected up front by sophomore Ayden Dolan, the younger brother of Sultan great, Jaxson Dolan, who graduated last year, along with junior Josh Bowen and senior Ryan Roe.

Also taking some snaps at quarterback was junior Alex Rico.

At running back last week, the Sultans used senior Fabyan Ibarra

One of the Sultans’ younger offensive players who made a contribution last week was sophomore running back Kaedyn Hallman.

“The kids worked hard all week and are looking to get their first win of the season,” Santana head coach Tim Estes said.

Montgomery junior quarterback Diego Villanueva went 16 for 29 for 156 yards and also rushed for a touchdown.

Aztec junior Arath Leyva recorded eight tackles, including three behind the line of scrimmage against the Islanders

The Aztecs’ only win over Santana came in 1982 – a 7-6 victory… SANTANA, 17-14.

SD-Southwest (1-0) at Mountain Empire (1-0) – The RedHawks won on the road last week at Hoover, 20-14.

The Cardinals were in Mountain Empire territory when a personal foul penalty set the RedHawks’ opponent back at a critical moment in the fourth quarter.

Mountain Empire quarterback Corey Vann passed for three touchdowns.

RedHawk Hunter Morgan had 11 tackles, including two for loss, forced a pair of fumbles, and had a sack.

Southwest won its opener, 20-18, over Tri-City Christian. It was the Raiders’ first win since Week 5 of the 2018 season. The school didn’t field a varsity team from 2020-21.

The RedHawks lead the all-time series over the Raiders, 3-2, with the first meeting coming in 2009 and the last meeting coming in 2016 – a 48-3 Southwest win, the most one-sided result in the five contests.

Southwest didn’t drop football last season, they just fielded a junior varsity team only… MOUNTAIN EMPIRE, 21-14.


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