East County Sports

43 years later, Eagles in CIF football final




By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

EL CAJON — Granite Hills football seems to collect victories in groups of three.

The Eagles captured the Grossmont Hills League title with decisions over Helix, Steele Canyon and Grossmont.

Then they took a pseudo Eastern League title with wins along the way over Christian, La Jolla and Mira Mesa.

Now, Granite Hills seeks its first CIF San Diego Section championship in three tries when the top-seeded Eagles meet third-seeded Ramona in the Division II championship, slated for Saturday (Nov. 26) at Escondido High.

The Eagles proved their worth as the top seed by swamping fifth-seeded Mira Mesa in Friday’s (Nov. 18) semifinals, 45-8, at Valley Stadium.

Any hopes for a comeback by Mira Mesa were quickly erased as Granite Hills’ special teams again proved superior

Trailing at the half 24-0, the Marauders got on the board on a 2-yard run by standout running back Makei Thompson, then a 2-point conversion pass.

Mira Mesa’s defense then registered a quick three-and-out, but when they needed to punt, too, Granite Hills’ Easton Peterson would race 77 yards on a punt return.

Meanwhile, Thompson was limited to just 63 yards in 22 rushes, as the Eagles closed on a 21-0 run to gain its first berth to a CIF championship contest in 43 years — a 1979 loss to Morse.

Senior quarterback Nico Tomasello passed for a pair of touchdowns to mount the early 24-point advantage.

Sophomore Isaiah Pablo Jackson needed just 72 seconds to open the scoring on a 16-yard run.

Tomasello then connected with Maxwell Turner (20 yards) and Colin Riley (56). In between, standout kicker Robert Petrich booted a 39-yard field goal.

Meanwhile, the Eagles’ defense stiffed Mira Mesa’s touted ground game, pushing the Eagles’ record to 10-2 overall.

Granite Hills posted its second-largest playoff win by margin. The largest was also against Mira Mesa, 46-0 on the road in 1986. The 37-point margin broke the Eagles’ record in a home playoff contest, topping a 32-0 blanking of Santana in 1966.


Mira Mesa.......  0  8 0  0 —  8
Granite Hills... 14 10 7 14 — 45

GH — Jackson 16 run (Petrich kick)
GH — Turner 30 pass from Tomasello (Petrich kick)
GH — FG Petrich 39
GH — Riley 56 pass from Tomasello (Petrich kick)
MM — Thompson 2 run (Dir pass from Line)
GH — Peterson 77 punt return (Petrich kick)
GH — Jackson 10 run (Petrich kick)
GH — Holden 1 run (Petrich kick

Ramona 19, at El Centro-Central 7

Courtesy, Imperial Valley Press

Read the stiry HERE

EL CENTRO   Two costly turnovers and missed opportunities by the Central Union High School Spartan football team helped lead to their defeat to the Ramona High Bulldogs by a score of 19-7 in a CIF-San Diego Section Division II Semifinals here at Cal Jones Field on Friday night.

“We had opportunities, give credit to Ramona for keeping us out of the end zone,” said Central Coach David Pena. “But give credit to our kids for giving everything for forty-eight minutes.”

The game pitted the D-II second-seeded Spartans (7-4, 4-0 IVL) against the third-seeded Ramona Bulldogs, with Central winning the coin toss and choosing to defer to the second half and kickoff.

The Bulldogs immediately unleashed what would be a ground-and-pound offense, rushing the ball from their 35-yard line to the Central 14-yard line, where the Spartan defense then forced Ramona to turn the ball over on downs.

“They caught us off-guard with the power-read and they did a great job of executing it early, and we caught on to it and adjusted to stop them,” Pena said.

Central then answered with a drive of its own, driving from their 23-yard line to the Ramona 21-yard line, mixing the running of senior Charlie Sullivan with the passing of senior quarterback Damian Rodriguez. Sullivan came entered the game averaging 135 yards per game, while Rodriguez was averaging 189 yards prior to the semifinal game.

“They were trying to squeeze the hole down and I kept trying to find a lane but couldn’t get loose for a big run,” Sullivan said, who rushed for 94 yards on 18 carries on the night.

Similarly frustrated by the Ramona defense was Rodriguez, who constantly found himself under pressure.

“I think they were blitzing on every play and they were playing a type of zone coverage I hadn’t seen before,” Rodriguez said. “We saw it on film but it’s different in real-time.”

Nonetheless, Rodriguez threw for 214 yards, connecting on 16 of 25 passing attempts on the night.

The Spartans’ drive stalled as the Bulldogs stiffened defensively, using a successful strategy of forcing Sullivan to the inside of the field and constantly blitzing Rodriguez.

Ramona again rushed the ball then caught the Spartan defense looking-run, opening an opportunity for quarterback Colin Lester to throw his first pass, finding Jonny Cohen on a 49 yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second quarter. After a failed PAT kick, Ramona led 6-0.

The touchdown toss was one of a few passes that Ramona attempted against the Spartans.

“I think teams generally stayed away from passing on us,” said senior safety and defensive captain Skylar Cook who, after playing wide receiver and safety in 2021, concentrated on defense this year.

“I felt I could be used more effectively on defense and I wouldn’t be as tired if I didn’t play offense too … and besides, we had plenty of play-makers,” Cook said.

Jacob de la Rosa had three solo tackles and four assists for Central, while Rudy Lizaola had two solo tackles and five assists.

Central’s next possession resulted in a punt. Ramona capitalized on a short Spartan punt and again ran the ball methodically down the field, scoring on a nine-yard run by Bulldog Azlan Enriquez.

Central stopped a two-point conversion run and trailed 12-0 with 4:08 left in the second quarter.

Central appeared to be on the verge of answering Ramona, taking over on their own 23-yard line and using seven plays to drive to the Bulldog’s nine-yard line.

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