East County Sports

Easterners open with non-league contests

Helix running back Kevin Allen III. / Vanilla Gorilla





EDISON at No. 10 HELIX — The Edison Chargers, of Huntington Beach, will play the Helix Highlanders tonight at 7 p.m. at Helix High’s Benton Hart Stadium.

The Chargers were supposed to be on the Hawaiian island of Maui last week and this week to play two games, this past Saturday and this coming Friday. The wildfires tragedy on Maui forced the team to cancel the trip and the two games.

Helix had nine games on its schedule, one short of the CIF limit for the regular season before the agreement to host Edison was reached Monday.

Helix last season finished 7-4 overall and 2-1 in the four-team Grossmont Hills League. However, the league has been expanded to six teams this season, adding West Hills and Santana to the mix.

Last season Helix played two Orange County teams in nonleague games, a 38-31 win over Servite and a 58-27 loss to Mission Viejo.

Edison, out of the Sunset League, was hit hard by graduation but has a three-star tackle in senior Nathan Gates.

Helix is led by Utah State-bound quarterback Ryland Jessee, but the Highlanders bolster the offense with the running of Kevin Allen III.

The Highlanders should be expected to compete here for an upset if the team trajectory trends upward. The team walked off their home field disappointed in a quarterfinal loss to El Camino when they lost the game late… EDISON, 28-24.


MOUNT MIGUEL at SWEETWATER — The Matadors could see immediate returns on their big changes during the offseason. Mount Miguel’s strong passing offense from last season should get even strong with experience and new head coach Verlain Betofe. The connection of Matthew Barton to Jeremiah Castillo is one of the top combinations in the section, and have a big addition in Aiden Cornthwaite. On the road is a nice test against swirling Sweetwater but the new staff would likely have to be surprised by a loss… MOUNT MIGUEL, 34-20.


EL CAPITAN at VALLEY CENTER — Head coach Ron Burner doesn’t have to be reminded of the Vaqueros’ 31-28 overtime loss to the Jaguars back in 2016. It wasn’t the first time an East County team seemingly couldn’t close the deal at VC. This El Capitan team can come out with a win if the Jags don’t know what to expect. Valley Center has a new coaching staff following a big change after a 4-7 season. The Vaqueros could play a solid game and still may need a bit of luck to win. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have the big-play potential of Brandt Barker and Chance LaChappa… EL CAPITAN, 31-28.


STEELE CANYON at HERITAGE — The Cougars are expected to go to Menifee and come away with a victory over the Patriots. The Cougars won at home last season 41-30 in the opener between the clubs but Heritage went on to go 0-10 last season. Running back Michael Lindley had two touchdowns in the game for the Cougars, along with two receptions for 73 yards, so expect him to get off to a good start with the SC ground attack. Joshua Herber, now a junior, had a touchdown pass in that win. Manoouel Saka leads the SC defense. Heritage, of the Ivy League, return just four from that winless club… STEELE CANYON, 31-16.


IMPERIAL at WEST HILLS — West Hills lost at Imperial, 21-3, last season, but won at home two seasons ago, 21-7, over the Tigers. The Wolf Pack have experience and speed on offense with quarterback Collin Dill and running back Diego Calderon. Imperial figures to have an edge in the trenches in this one. While it is tough for teams to travel to the desert, it does affect the invaders here, as well. This is actually a big game for the Wolf Pack in Division III where it could be battling for a playoff spot. A win here would be a really great start… WEST HILLS, 22-21.


EL CAJON VALLEY at CRAWFORD — This is a great matchup to open the season. The Braves figure to be even better than last year and can entertain hopes to compete for the league championship on the final night of the season. El Cajon Valley is playing a strong non-league schedule and it should payoff come playoff time. The Braves are also a Division V championship contender heading into the season. The Colts lost the Division IV championship game in 2022 and defeated Mount Miguel, 28-26, in Spring Valley in a non-league contest last season… CRAWFORD, 27-21. 


SAN DIEGO at GROSSMONT — The Foothillers will surely look different this season under new head coach Anthony Lawrence. The record-setting quarterback from Grossmont and USD would shock observers if he didn’t bring back the all-out aerial assault. After an 0-10 season in 2022, there is only one way to go and that is through the air. The Cavers are going to throw, too, and that could lead to a surprising shootout. This one also has a big impact on the Division III postseason for these two teams which are expected to compete near the playoff bubble… GROSSMONT, 28-23.


HILLTOP at VALHALLA — Valhalla won this matchup, 14-8, at home in the 2021 season opener but lost at Hilltop, 28-14, last season on the opening night of the season managing just 68 yards of offense. The Norsemen will try to improve on a one-win season and figure to compete in this one but Hilltop has a very consistent club that takes care of business when matched up against comparable teams. Maybe the Norsemen return a few more starters than the Lancers but there is still plenty there for Bryan Wagner’s club… HILLTOP, 21-14.


VINCENT MEMORIAL at MONTE VISTA — The Monarchs will be considerable underdogs against the Jacobo Elias-led Scots. Monte Vista starts the season as the East County’s lowest-rated team having won just one of their last 20 games in the last two years. The Monarchs have their first young quarterback prospect in several years and Monte Vista is always pretty stout in the trenches. Expect an improvement in 2023 but this will be a learning experience… VINCENT MEMORIAL, 35-7.


No. 11 ST. AUGUSTINE at PATRICK HENRY — The Saints have to be underrated entering the season. St. Augustine started an extremely young, but ultra-talented team that figures to improve rapidly. The Patriots should have a better time of it this season after two wins in 2022 but Saints are going to be getting more noticed starting with Week 1… ST. AUGUSTINE 35-14.


HOOVER at MOUNTAIN EMPIRE — Mountain Empire has defeated Hoover in each of the last two seasons, including a 20-14 road win last year. In 2021, the RedHawks won, 28-0, at home. The teams are practically tied in the computer rankings heading into the season. The RedHawks have developed into an experienced group heading into the season. Isaac Gonzalez may put up some big numbers in the backfield but MEHS has a veteran signal-caller in Corey Vann. Hoover has experienced a resurgence with patient head coach Will Gray. This is another low-key great opening game… MOUNTAIN EMPIRE, 23-22.




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