The Steele Canyon Cougars debuted beautiful new midnight-blue uniforms last Friday night against visiting Mira Mesa High but it was the same ol’ defense that recorded a 45-0 shutout of visiting Mira Mesa.
The Cougars were the county’s No. 2-ranked team – behind Grossmont Hills League rival Helix – in the first release of the San Diego CIF’s in-season power ratings before last week’s, which gauge where teams stand in relation to the future playoff pairings.
That lofty rating is the highest-ever for a Steele Canyon program which won a state division championship just two years ago. Their current position is ahead of local powerhouse clubs Cathedral Catholic and St. Augustine.
This Friday, the 5-0 Cougars will open the highly-anticipated Grossmont Hills League season against Granite Hills (4-1).
Steele Canyon, Granite Hills, and Helix finished in a three-way tie for the league championship last season.
The Cougars are allowing less than seven points-per-game so far this season and defeated ninth-ranked Madison in Week 2, 19-14.
Meanwhile, the Eagles lost to the Warhawks a week later, and Madison defeated another Grossmont Hills League contender, Grossmont, last Friday.
Steele Canyon out-gained the Marauders, 449-94, last Friday, which was plenty enough, but senior Cam Ewert returned an interception 15 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Both of Steele’s quarterbacks – senior starter Jeremy Mendez-Gal and junior Elia Kirismasi – passed for a touchdown and ran for a touchdown.
Junior Colton Guerrero had five tackles, including one of three Cougar sacks. Juniors Ryan Magoon and Nathan Benitez also recorded sacks.
Senior T-Max Nyumah changed the complexion of the game when his hit knocked Mira Mesa’s Elijah Thomas from the contest. He subsequently jarred the ball loose and recovered the fumble on one bounce.
Granite Hills has been the most overlooked local squad this season.
Last week, the Eagles went to El Centro and defeated the Southwest Eagles, 41-7.
Granite Hills junior quarterback Justus McComb rushed for three touchdowns and passed for two more, including a 66-yard touchdown to Matthew Keeley mid-way through the first quarter.
Keeley also had a sack and forced a fumble.
“I was able to give my (right defensive end) Matt Millum a call to let him know I was blitzing,” said the junior. “When I did that, none of the offensive players on my side of the field called out that I was blitzing, so when Matt went inside, he turned the right tackle’s shoulders. There was no running back to my side, so that allowed me to get a free rush on the QB and make the play.”
McComb finished with 274 yards through the air, while senior Keyvon Martin, who rejoined the team two weeks ago after moving back from Mississippi, rushed for 69 yards and two touchdowns.
Freshman Jaylen Hall had a 77-yard touchdown reception for Granite Hills.
No. 21 Santana (6-0) at Mount Miguel (3-2) – The top two rated teams in the Grossmont Valley League will meet in a key opener.
Santana, which is the top-rated team in the section’s Division IV, knocked off the top team in Division V, Vincent Memorial, 42-0, at Santee Community Stadium last Friday.
Senior Nathan Temple passed for three touchdowns, while senior Randy Smith was on the receiving end of two of them. The pair have combined for 13 touchdowns this season.
Senior Nick Valentine had an interception while junior linebacker Nick Brase had a fumble recovery, as the Sultans recorded their third shutout in the last four games, outscoring their opponents, 245-32 this season.
The Matadors had their game against Sweetwater last Friday was shifted to Spring Valley because the Red Devils’ turf needs to be replaced.
A home-field advantage probably wouldn’t have mattered as the Matadors won, 41-26, behind junior quarterback J.D. Laverdiere’s three passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns.
Senior receiver Jahiem Allen-Pompey should get serious consideration as an All-CIF performer. He has 41 receptions for 989 yards and 12 touchdowns heading into league play.
The Sultans have dropped seven-straight games in the series with their last win coming in 2002.
Santana is off to its best start since 2011 when it started 8-0.
Ironically, the Sultans’ first loss that season came against the Matadors in Santee, 37-23, one of just two losses that season, the other that year coming against Valley Center, 20-14, in the Division IV championship game at Qualcomm Stadium.
No. 14 Grossmont (4-1) at Valhalla (3-2) – The Norsemen defeated visiting Kearny, 20-12, on Homecoming last Friday night behind 236 yards and two touchdowns from senior Kegan Baker.
Baker, part of the Homecoming court along with teammates Ethan Ferkich and Mohammed Jaafar, received his first scholarship offer earlier in the day from Western Colorado University.
Valhalla’s defense was led by Ferkich, who had 13 tackles, a fumble recovery and a blocked field goal. Sophomore Giovanni Alejo added an interception, a forced fumble and a recovery for the Norsemen.
Grossmont was dealt its first loss of the season by Madison, 34-13, in a game that the Warhawks led just 6-3 at halftime.
Madison recovered four Hiller fumbles and stopped Grossmont twice inside the 10 in the first quarter.
Valhalla will likely qualify for the playoffs with just one Grossmont Hills League win this season.
The Foothillers are considerable favorites here despite going on the road but the Norsemen will be shooting for a signature win.
West Hills (3-2) at El Cajon Valley (3-2) – The Wolf Pack rekindled their fire for a Grossmont Valley League title run by winning the Tony Burner Memorial Trophy for the first time last Friday thanks to senior twin brothers Kole and Kip Klingerman.
Kole Klingerman threw a touchdown pass to his brother on an option play, then caught the decisive score on a diving catch in the back of the end zone with 3:38 left in the fourth quarter from senior quarterback Gerardo Hernandez as West Hills rallied to defeat El Capitan, 24-14.
The game was tied, 7-all at halftime.
Senior Steven Cristini returned an interception 101 yards for a touchdown with under 30 seconds left in the game to take the hardware back down the 67 and across the 52 to west Santee.
Cristini also had a 20-yard run which set up a 31-yard field goal by Elijah Mullett, and he also had a 50-yard kickoff return.
The West Hills defense, led by senior Jake Maheu’s 17 tackles, limited El Capitan to just 69 yards passing.
This week, the Wolf Pack will host the Braves on Homecoming. West Hills can’t afford an upset at the hands of El Cajon Valley if it is to qualify for the postseason in Division III.
The Braves had a bye last week but stars Clarence Johnson and Ke’von Martin took in the Madison win over Grossmont.
El Cajon Valley has dropped two-in-a-row but isn’t lacking in confidence.
Johnson and Martin both admitted last Friday to looking forward to competing in all four upcoming GVL contests and expect to be a factor in the league chase.
West Hills won last year’s contest, 47-13, in Santee, limiting ECV to just five yards rushing. Kole Klingerman had three receptions, including one for a touchdown in the game, while Kip blocked a punt.
This year’s matchup should be considerably closer, although the Braves will have to force their own breaks against a Wolf Pack unit that does a stellar job protecting the ball.
El Capitan (0-5) at No. 1 Helix (4-1) – The Highlanders will host Homecoming against the Vaqueros at Hart Stadium.
Helix was expected to get a challenge from perennial state power Oaks Christian, of Westlake Village, last Friday but that hardly materialized.
Instead, former Helix great Ezekiel Noa saw his younger brother Elelyon rush for 276 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-17 win over the Lions. Elelyon had a 58-yard touchdown rush on the first play from scrimmage.
Zeke Noa, unfortunately, saw his sophomore season at Boise State come to an end last Friday when he sustained a torn ACL and broken wrist in a win over Air Force. He had already posted a career-high 10 tackles through three quarters when the injury occurred. The timing of the injury may allow Noa a sixth-year of NCAA eligibility.
Seeing Elelyon, along with his freshman brother, Ezriel, play in the same game, had to brighten his spirits.
Helix senior Keionte Scott had a touchdown reception and an interception, while senior quarterback Kamryn Brown had another extremely efficient game, going 11-of-15 for 143 yards, including a touchdown pass to senior Timothy Christopher.
El Capitan senior quarterback Wick Hauser had 170 yards of total offense rushed for two touchdowns last week to help the Vaqueros to the lead against the Wolf Pack.
Senior running back Donny Green finished with 118 yards rushing for El Cap in the loss.
Linebacker Jacobo Villa nearly made the game-saving play for the second-straight season when he had a third-down sack and forced a fumble that West Hills won the scramble for.
The recovery set up the Pack’s decisive touchdown pass on the next play or the Vaqueros would be in the win column.
Chula Vista (0-6) at Monte Vista (1-4) – The Monarchs are four points away from being 3-2 this season.
Monte Vista nearly defeated Imperial on the road two weeks ago, but the Tigers stunned the Monarchs with a long touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
Senior Xavier Leyva had a 16-yard touchdown reception from senior quarterback Ruben Silva, and senior running back Isaiah Gardner had a 65-yard touchdown run, as the Monarchs led Imperial, 17-7 at halftime.
Junior Brandon Deacy kicked a 39-yard field goal in the first half.
The Monarchs are currently outside of the Division II playoff picture so they can’t afford a loss here to the lowest-rated team in Division IV but the Spartans still would need an extraordinary effort.
University City (1-4) vs. Christian (3-2) (Sat. at Valley Stadium) – This game features a pair of Division I-potential quarterbacks in Christian High junior Gabe Krug and University City senior Gunnar Gray.
Gray, who has received interest from five Pac-12 schools, was invited over the weekend to participate in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl series, while Krug has a scholarship offer in-hand from Arizona State.
Krug rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns, including a 48-yard game-clincher in the Patriots’ 31-28 over visiting Central Union two weeks ago, just the Spartans’ fifth loss in their last 30 games.
The Patriot signal-caller has had success behind the offensive line of Eric Markowicz, Yaya Owens, Andrew Carlock, Nathan Wells, and Cole Bryant.
Calvary Christian (0-4) at Foothills Christian (6-0) (8-man at Seau Field) – The Knights, unfortunately, didn’t get to play a game last week, taking a forfeit from the Julian Eagles.
Foothills Christian defeated Calvary, 68-0, last season behind then-junior Tony Mroz’s three touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown.
Junior Blake McIntyre had two touchdown receptions from Mroz in last year’s win.