El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Mary York

The year may be almost over but the Matador’s basketball season is just beginning, and it is shaping up to be a good one. 

For the D3 Grossmont Valley conference team, this year is the culmination of the last several, with a robust roster of juniors and seniors who have played together long enough to build what co-captain senior James Allen calls chemistry.

Steele Canyon players gave an emotional pregame tribute to Will Burton, a former Granite Hills football player, an all-section first team defensive selection who was tragically killed on Dec. 11 in an automobile accident. At Saturday’s state championship game, Steel players wore a special No. 19 decal on their helmets in remembrance of Burton in the spirit of community rival team camaraderie. Convinced Burton was watching Saturday’s game, players gave a performance that took their place as state champion.

Helix football is headed to the state championship.

Robbie Owens may have known he was taking on one of the most historically successful football programs in San Diego when he stepped up as the head coach of the Helix Highlanders last year, but it is unlikely that he expected to such an eager and determined group of young men who would go on to win the 2017 Open Division Championship in a 26-19 victory over No. 1 Seed Mission Hills. 

Every November, as families buy Thanksgiving turkeys and cranberry sauce and stores begin to tentatively hang up early Christmas decorations, East County football plunges into the best season of the year: playoffs. 

With established programs like Helix and Grossmont High School, football in the Grossmont conference is usually well-represented in CIF. This year is no different.

Grossmont head coach Clint McLaughlin may have entered La Jolla High School’s Coggan Pool dry on Saturday night, Nov. 11, but he left it soaking wet from head to toe. 

Following a nail-biter game, won in the final seconds of the last quarter to clinch the Division CIF Championship title, McLaughlin joined his boys in the pool for a ‘victory lap.’ 

There is definitely a stigma towards parents in high school sports. Steele Canyon high school’s tennis program defies it. 

With a ‘no-cut’ policy that gave the team 52 players this year, the Cougars depend on their parent volunteers to help coach. 

Head coach Jerry Segawa said the parents have attributed both to the performance and the culture of the program. 

Cuyamaca College’s gym was filled with all kinds of talent on Oct. 25, as the men’s basketball team scrimmaged with the San Diego Silverbacks, a wheelchair basketball team.

As students and community members nested in the bleachers, Cuyamaca’s able-bodied basketball players took turns in wheelchairs against the accomplished San Diego team. The teams were mixed to have a few Silverbacks on each side to teach the Coyotes how to dribble, pass and recover the ball from their seats.

It is a knock-down drag out for the Grossmont Hills league title in the last week of girls volleyball conference games. 

Helix (15-10, 7-2) was hanging onto a narrow lead until Thursday, Oct. 19, when they dropped to Steele Canyon (16-12, 6-3) and West Hills (15-9, 7-2) improved over El Capitan (14-11, 5-4), tying the Wolfpack and the Highlanders with the Cougars one win behind and only one game left in the season. 

Granite Hills stole a homecoming game win away from South Bay’s Hilltop High School (3-4) on Oct.13, in riveting second-half comeback that hints at an exciting season in the Grossmont Valley League. 

The visiting Eagles (5-2) were down 13-12 at the start of the second half, which followed the crowning of Hilltop’s homecoming royalty and a magnificent firework display over Southwestern College’s football stadium, where the neutral non-conference game was held.