East County Sports

Eagles, Patriots to meet for first time




EastCountySports.com staff report


Thurs., Oct. 6

Christian (3-3) at No. 7 Granite Hills (4-2) — Except for an occasional game here and there, the Patriots have called Granite Hills High’s Valley Stadium its home for decades (since at least 1974).

However, they’ve never played the team that is the main occupant of the field – the Granite Hills Eagles.

Since the Patriots play their varsity football games on the Eagles’ field, Christian High is usually forced to play about half of its home games on Saturday when the teams are scheduled for home games on the same week.

Sure, there have been other scheduling conflicts on occasion, like in 2009 when the Patriots hosted a CIF playoff game at Valhalla.

In fact, Christian once (and only once) played an on-campus home game in 2003, when CIF mandated all games must be played on Friday, but Granite Hills also had a home game and Valhalla couldn’t provide their field due to the lack of extra custodial care.

Christian, the No. 8 seed, didn’t want to lose home-field advantage to No. 9 Army-Navy, so Patriots head coach Jay Schraeder (the former Raiders’ quarterback who replaced Matt Oliver for the ’03 season while his son was the club’s quarterback), went to an equipment company, and personally spent the money needed to rent four sets of lights, and illuminated the school’s back field to play football — the Pats scored in the last minute to nip the Army-Navy Warriors in half-darkness, 13-12.

The Eagles are the hosts in this one, so the Patriot faithful will have the unusual seating choice on the visitor-side bleachers, which are the East County’s largest stands for visiting teams.

While the matchup would seem to be an obvious option for the two programs, the fact is that Christian really hasn’t been a big enough team to compete with a program the size of Granite Hills.

Over the years, Christian High has grown and improved, and in turn, slowly increased the number of teams with larger enrollment backing, especially since moving to the San Diego Unified conference in the mid-2000s.

The timing isn’t great for this year’s Patriots, as the Eagles have one of their strongest team in years.

Christian is a really good team in a tough league that includes programs with a lot of success recently and historically.

The Eastern League this year includes 10-ranked Mira Mesa, recent state division champion San Diego, a La Jolla High program off some of its best success in decades, and a Patrick Henry club that won a section division championship last season.

But this year’s Granite Hills outfit is the top-rated team currently in the section’s Division II, the division where the Patriots also reside.

And in some previous years, this could be rightly considered a pretty close matchup.

However, that doesn’t appear to be the case now, at least for this season.

Granite Hills’ two losses are to a pair of the county’s unbeaten top teams – Madison and Poway, while Christian has played according to form except for a disappointing “home” loss to small-school rival Santa Fe Christian, 20-14.

Granite can confidently and optimistically compete for the Grossmont Hills League championship when it hosts fourth-ranked Helix on the final night of the regular season right here at Valley Stadium, which many prefer to refer to as Granite Hills Stadium on Eagles’ game nights.

The Eagles will likely have the size and depth to push the Patriots around in order to gain the victory.

Granite Hills’ running game with senior Zak Darling and sophomores Pablo Jackson and Max Turner averages over 200 yards per game.

The Patriots are fond of the pass with quarterback Jake Davila and top receivers Joey Merritt and Hunter Provience but the Eagles have one of the county’s top secondaries with seniors Easton Peterson, Joaquin Thomas Jr., and Davion Green, along with junior Jordan Glaze.

Hopefully, these schools can establish what could be an obvious series moving forward unless the Eagles just prove to large and dominant still for the time being … GRANITE HILLS, 35-17.


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