Eagles soaring over the competition to kick off delayed football season

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Photo by Andy Bartotto Sophomore Joaquin Thomas scored two long touchdowns for Granite Hills.

Are the Granite Hills Eagles the best high school football team in East County this season? At 3-0 with half a season remaining, head coach Kellan Cobbs’ team is certainly making a case for itself.

The Eagles defeated the visiting Grossmont Foothillers, 20-7, in last Friday’s Grossmont Hills League opener for both teams after previously defeating the Valhalla Norsemen 56-7 and El Capitan Vaqueros 48-21 in non-league contests.

Granite Hills has outscored its opponents 124-35 in three games.

But, of course, three games do not make up a season, even in this COVID-shortened campaign.

The Eagles will face the Foothillers once more (April 16) while taking on perennial league heavyweights Helix (April 9) and Steele Canyon (this Friday away).

Regardless of the final outcome it’s been a season of redemption for Granite Hills, which finished 5-6 last season and bowed out in the opening round of the section playoffs.

“The defense played lights out,” Cobbs said following last Friday’s latest victory. “We left some points on the field with a few turnovers but the defense really caries us and won the game for us.”

Senior signal-caller Justus McComb threw two more touchdown passes to give him eight on the season while sophomore Joaquin Thomas scored two long touchdowns — one on a 76-yard run and another on an 89-yard catch and carry — to give the Eagles flight.

Granite Hills led, 20-0, at halftime.

McComb completed nine of 15 passes for 213 yards while rushing 14 times for 84 yards to lead the team with 297 total yards and post an impressive 143.8 quarterback efficiency rating.

Thomas carried the ball 10 times for 87 yards and caught two passes for 90 yards to finish the game with 177 total yards. He tacked on 15 punt return yards for a game total of 192 all-purpose yards.

Senior Angel Almazon, who scored on a six-yard catch, amassed 132 total offensive yards on 124 receiving yards and eight rushing yards.

The Eagles out-gained the Foothillers 427-279 in total yards.

Freshman Jordan Glaze topped the Eagles on the night with nine tackles while junior Zach Burton and senior Andy Lowry both recorded sacks. Senior Michael Wallace had one interception.

Granite Hills held Grossmont to 22 rushing yards.

The Foothillers, who fell to 1-1 on the season after defeating West Hills, 44-3, in their season opener, received 247 total yards from senior Justin Brown and 201 all-purpose yards from junior Nathan Acevedo.

Brown completed 21 of 44 passing attempts for 257 yards with one interception while Acevedo had six catches for 161 yards.

Senior Robert Tucker III (78 all-purpose yards) scored Grossmont’s lone touchdown on an 11-yard run in the third quarter.

Junior Ryan Odom and Cristian Espino co-led Grossmont defensively with 13 tackles while junior Brennan Sanders had 12 stops. Junior Joel Holenstein had one sack and one fumble recovery while junior Cavin Howard also recovered a fumble.

The Foothillers will host defending league champion Helix this Friday. The Highlanders (1-2) are coming off their first win of the season after recording a 14-0 shutout victory at Steele Canyon (1-2) last Friday.

Junior Felix Barraza scored on a fumble return and junior Christian Washington rushed for 101 yards and scored once to bolster the Highlanders.

The Scotties used three interceptions, including two by sophomore Hunter Wiggins and one by sophomore Joshua Carroll, and four fumble recoveries to stymie the Cougars defensively.

Santana 42, El Capitan 7

The Sultans improved to 2-0 after topping visiting El Capitan, 42-7, in a Grossmont Valley league game last Friday. The latest win by Santana follows up on a 49-16 non-league win at Kearny on March 26. The Sultans have out-scored their opening two opponents 91-23 to start the short spring season.

“Ron (Burner, El Capitan head coach) and his staff do a great job and their team is better than their record,” Santana head coach Tim Estes said. “We had a few breaks go our way and we went up 14-0 before they had the ball on offense. They stopped us on our first series and we punted the ball and it touched one of their players and we recovered it. We punched in from there and we on-sided the kickoff and recovered it, drove down and scored again. That gave us momentum and we just kept it going.”

Senior quarterback Drew Temple completed 14 of 30 passes for 261 yards with four touchdowns and one interception while senior Jared Forster had five catches for 99 yards, including three touchdowns. Forster also had an interception on defense.

Senior James Beeson had five catches for 124 yards and recorded a fumble recovery and interception on defense. Senior Michael Richter had nine tackles, three assists, one sack and one blocked punt while junior Anthony Santiago had three tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery.

Santana plays at Mount Miguel (2-0) on Friday while El Capitan (0-3) hosts West Hills (0-2).

Monte Vista 36, West Hills 6

The defending Grossmont Valley League champion Monarchs improved to 2-0 behind 345 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Senior Deron Whitley rushed for 118 yards with three touchdowns while senior Lamonta Jenkins carried for 106 yards and one touchdown.

The Wolf Pack scored on a pass from junior Braden Oberg to junior Dylan Snyder.

Mount Miguel 29, Valhalla 24

Senior Jacob Laverdiere rushed for 172 yards and four touchdowns while sister Julianna Laverdiere, a junior recruit from the school’s soccer team, kicked the final PAT conversion in a rare brother-sister 29-point scoring combo to keep the Matadors undefeated. Jacob Laverdiere racked up 263 total yards by passing for 91 yards.

Jacob Laverdiere tacked on a pair of two-point conversions to stake the hosts to a 28-10 lead while Julianna Laverdiere trotted onto the field to add the team’s final point on a kick conversion.

Eric White and Joseph Castillo both helped the Matadors’ cause with interceptions while senior Jarrell Loredo had one sack.

The Norsemen (0-3) received touchdowns from senior Hussain Bakir (16 carries, 77 yards), junior A.J. Cornthwaite (two catches, 25 yards) and senior Gavin Nagel (55-yard interception return). Senior quarterback Luke Pillsbury led Valhalla, which scored 14 late points, with 100 total yards.

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