Eagles soar past Highlanders in double overtime thriller for the ages, 44-43

Photo by Andy Bartotto Granite Hills seniors Rowdy Seda (69), Damarrion White (6), Moshi Tileia (73) and Alejandro Tejeda (77) head out for the coin toss.

Last Friday’s Helix Charter at Granite Hills football game was billed as the game of the year in East County.

It didn’t disappoint.

Some, in fact, are calling Granite Hills’ 44-43 double overtime victory the greatest game ever played between two East County high school football teams.

Few in the overflow crowd in eastern El Cajon might dispute that.

Both teams were playing for rights to this year’s Grossmont Hills League championship and likely the No. 3 seed in the upcoming San Diego Section Open Division playoffs.

The host Eagles led, 13-7, at halftime and proceeded to zip out to a 30-13 lead early in the fourth quarter before the visiting Highlanders rallied with 17 unanswered points, highlighted by a 38-yard field goal by senior Joshua Hossman Lees with seconds to play, to send the game into overtime tied at 30.

Both teams scored in the first overtime period and tacked on successful extra-point conversions to remain deadlocked at 37 points.

Senior Kevin Allen III scored on a three-yard run on Helix’s first overtime possession, rushing for all 25 yards in the series, while junior Pablo Jackson scored on a 25-yard burst for Granite Hills.

Both teams elected to just go for the single-point conversion – Hossman Lees for the Highlanders and senior Robert Petrich for the Eagles.

Granite Hills went first in the second overtime period and freshman quarterback Zachary Benitez connected with junior Brenden Lewis on a 35-yard scoring pass.

Petrich made the extra-point conversion to put the Eagles ahead 44-37 on the scoreboard.

But the Scotties weren’t finished.

Allen scored on a one-yard run to bring Helix to within one point, 44-43. The visitors elected to go for a two-point conversion in a bid to win the game outright in the second overtime. Allen veered to the right side but was tackled by junior Trevor Smith well short of the goal line.

Pandemonium broke out both on the field and in the stands as the Eagles came out victorious with a gritty performance.

It took four overtimes to determine last year’s league championship, so nothing was new between these league rivals.

“It was a great game and a great environment to play in,” Granite Hills head coach Kellan Cobbs said. “Both sides of the stands were packed, and it was a very exciting game. Glad we were able to get a stop at the end when we needed it.”

The latest Open Division rankings place Lincoln (10-0) at No. 1, Carlsbad (9-0) at No. 2, Granite Hills (9-0) at No. 3 and Helix (8-1) at No. 4.

The remaining Division I rankings include Mission Hills (5-3) at No. 5, Torrey Pines (6-3) at No. 6, Cathedral Catholic (3-6) at No. 7, El Camino (6-3) at No. 8, La Costa Canyon (5-4) at No. 9 and St. Augustine (5-4) at No. 10.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge of playing Carlsbad in the Open Division,” Cobbs said.

This year’s game will remain memorable, likely even after the CIF, regional and state playoffs are finished.

Granite Hills managed to ring up 451 total offensive yards, including 237 rushing yards on 41 carries, against a tough Helix defense that had limited opponents to 15 points in the team’s previous three games.

Benitez completed 12 of 21 passing attempts for 214 yards and one touchdown in regulation play while Jackson (15 carries, 116 yards) and junior Max Turner (24 carries, 114 yards) each scored two rushing touchdowns.

Lewis had six catches for 111 yards and one score.

Petrich tallied 14 kicking points on five PAT conversions and three field goals, including a long of 45 yards.

Defensively, senior Tyler Bertalan keyed the Eagles with 13 tackles while senior Jordan Glaze and junior Parker Vance each were credited with 11 stops.

Senior Moshi Tileia recorded a six-yard sack while Vance made one interception.

The Eagles entered last Friday’s game having allowed 13 points in four games, including two shutout wins.

Granite Hills led 6-0 on a pair of Petrich field goals (19 and 45 yards) before the visitors took a 7-6 lead on an eight-yard touchdown reception by senior Jackson Daniels.

The Eagles ran off 17 unanswered points to lead 23-7 on a two-yard run by Turner, a one-yard run by Jackson and a 37-yard field goal by Petrich.

Allen scored on a nine-yard run, but the two-point conversion pass came up short on a tackle by sophomore Braydon Wells.

23-13 Granite Hills.

Turner scored the only points of the fourth quarter on a one-yard run to push the hosts up by 17 points, 30-13. But the Highlanders completed their frenzied comeback on a 41-yard scoring run by Allen, an ensuing seven-yard score by Allen and Hossman Lees’s sixth kicking point of regulation (three PAT and one field goal).

Allen paced Helix with 269 rushing yards on 37 carries and scored three touchdowns (five TD, including two in overtime) while senior quarterback Ryland Jessee threw one touchdown pass to Daniels (six catches, 62 yards).

The preceding junior varsity clash also featured a fantastic finish as Helix won, 39-38, on a last-second field goal.

In other Grossmont Hills League games, Grossmont (2-2 in league, 5-4 overall) defeated Santana (0-4 in league, 4-5 overall) by a score of 46-21 on Thursday, Oct. 20, while Steele Canyon (2-2 in league, 5-4 overall) topped West Hills (1-3 in league, 5-4 overall) by a score of 49-7 last Friday.

Senior Hudson Herber passed for 296 yards with four touchdowns while sophomore Noah Walker (three catches, 103 yards) had two receiving touchdowns for Grossmont.

Grossmont Valley League

Mt. Miguel improved to 3-0 in Grossmont Valley League play, 8-1 overall, after notching a 40-6 win at El Cajon Valley (1-2 in league, 5-4 overall) on Thursday, Oct. 20.

Matador senior quarterback Matthew Barton passed for 412 yards and four touchdowns — one each to sophomore Parris Vernon (11 catches, 186 yards), senior Jeremiah Castillo (eight catches, 146 yards), senior Davian McGowan (two catches, 28 yards) and junior Braylon Cardwell (two catches, 29 yards).

Mt. Miguel — braced defensively by six sacks, three by junior Dominic DeArcos, and an interception by Castillo — rolled up 481 offensive yards in the victory to remain in sole possession of first place in the league standings with one regular season game remaining against crosstown rival Monte Vista, which moved into championship contention with a 42-21 victory against visiting Valhalla.

Monte Vista (2-1 in league, 3-6 overall) set the tone against the Norsemen as junior Alex Villanueva rushed 76 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. Senior Jaidyn Ellison had 28 carries for 163 yards and three touchdowns while Villanueva rushed five times for 111 yards to help the Monarchs remain in playoff contention.

El Cajon Valley closes regular season play with a Thursday (Oct. 26) game against visiting El Capitan (2-1 in league, 5-4 overall).

Grossmont Conference Football Standings



Granite Hills 4-0, 9-0
Helix 3-1, 8-1
Grossmont 2-2, 5-4
Steele Canyon 2-2, 5-4
West Hills 1-3, 5-4
Santana 0-4, 4-5


Mt. Miguel 3-0, 8-1
El Capitan 2-1, 5-4
Monte Vista 2-1, 3-6
El Cajon Valley 1-2, 5-4
Valhalla 0-4, 2-8

San Diego Section Football Rankings
(Through Oct. 21)

Division I: 1. Lincoln (10-0), 2. Carlsbad (9-0), 3. Granite Hills (9-0), 4. Helix Charter (8-1), 5. Mission Hills (5-3), 6. Torrey Pines (6-3), 7. Cathedral Catholic (3-6), 8. El Camino (6-3), 9. La Costa Canyon (5-4), 10. St. Augustine (5-4), 11. Mater Dei Catholic (5-3), 12. San Marcos (7-2), 13. Madison (3-6), 14. Poway (3-6), 15. Ramona (4-4), 16. Mira Mesa (3-6)

Division II: 1. Del Norte (8-1), 2. La Jolla (7-2), 3. Rancho Bernardo (4-5), 4. Oceanside (6-3), 5. Pt. Loma (6-4), 6. Scripps Ranch (6-3), 7. Brawley (8-1), 8. Central Union (7-2), 9. Bishop’s (6-3), 10. Steele Canyon (5-4), 11. Eastlake (3-6), 12. University City (1-8), 13. Mt. Carmel (3-6), 14. San Pasqual (5-4), 15. Christian (4-5), 16. Rancho Buena Vista (1-8)

Division III: 1. Mission Bay (7-2), 2. Fallbrook (4-5), 3. Santa Fe Christian (5-4), 4. La Jolla Country Day (6-3), 5. West Hills (5-4), 6. Patrick Henry (4-5), 7. Grossmont (5-4), 8. Imperial (6-3), 9. El Capitan (5-4), 10. Valley Center (4-5), 11. Morse (4-5), 12. Otay Ranch (2-7), 13. Palo Verde Valley (4-6), 14. Montgomery (4-5). 15. San Diego (3-6), 16. Vista (0-9)

Division IV: 1. Mt. Miguel (8-1), 2. Chula Vista (7-2), 3. Santana (4-5), 4. Westview (5-4), 5. Crawford (5-3), 6. Bonita Vista (6-3), 7. Olympian (5-4), 8. Calexico (5-4), 9. Escondido (2-7), 10. Escondido Charter (3-6), 11. Coronado (3-6), 12. Hilltop (3-6), 13. Francis Parker (2-7), 14. Orange Glen (5-4), 15. Classical Academy (2-7), 16. Canyon Hills (0-9)

Division V: 1. Vincent Memorial (6-3), 2. Sweetwater (3-6), 3. El Cajon Valley (5-4), 4. Hoover (6-3), 5. Southwest El Centro (2-7), 6. Monte Vista (3-6), 7. Valhalla (2-8), 8. Kearny (6-3), 9. Castle Park (4-4), 10. Clairemont (4-5), 11. Southwest (5-4), 12. Mar Vista (3-6), 13. San Ysidro (1-8)

Division V-AA: 1. Holtville (6-2), 2. Army-Navy Academy (6-3), 3. Tri-City Christian (8-1), 4. Rock Academy (4-4), 5. Maranatha Christian (3-6), 6. Calipatria (3-6), 7. Mountain Empire (1-9), 8. O’Farrell Charter (0-9)

Foothills Christian (8-person): 6-2 overall, 4-0 Ocean League

El Cajon Christian (11-person): 4-5 overall, 0-3 City Eastern League