FOOTBALL, FINALLY

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Quarterback Luke Pillsbury returns for his senior season at Valhalla High School as teams prepare to kick off the oft-delayed 2020-21 football season.

The high school football season appears ready to kick off for Grossmont Conference teams this weekend. It’s been a long wait and coaches and players will have to do their part to keep it going by following the appropriate safety protocols.

Teams will play as many as six games in the shortened season that will extend through April 17.

While there will be no section playoffs, league champions will be crowned.

In games on Friday, March 12, El Capitan High School will host Steele Canyon High School, Helix Charter High School will host St. Augustine High School, Mount Miguel High School will host Westview High School while Grossmont High School will host Mission Hills High School. Monte Vista High School will travel to Point Loma High School for a scrimmage.

All contests are at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, March 13, Valhalla High School will host neighborhood rival Granite Hills High School at 5:30 p.m. Earlier in the day, Santana High School will scrimmage visiting El Cajon Valley High School

Grossmont Conference teams will play seven more games on March 19 as the full league schedule kicks off.

It should be a wild ride, so buckle up!

Quarterback Joe Malone returns for his senior season at El Cajon Valley High School as teams prepare to kick-off the oft-delayed 2020-21 football season.

Prep kickoff

The Valhalla Norsemen concluded a winless 2018 campaign with a 0-10 record but rebounded last season with a 4-6 mark, including a 1-4 record in Grossmont Hills League play.

Head coach Mike Kastan is looking for further improvement as the 2021 spring season commences.

“This season, we have an experienced senior heavy offense,” Kastan noted. “Our defense has three returning starters and is filled with underclassmen. We are looking to be competitive in our short season and evaluate players for the fall season.”

Top returners include senior offensive/defensive lineman Allen Kalasho, senior linebackers Bashar Nooh and Eddie Villavicencio, junior safety Giovanni Alejo, junior quarterback Tommy Logan, senior quarterback Luke Pillsbury and senior receivers Marsalis Childs, Gavin Nagel and Miles Tomlinson.

Impact newcomers include junior offensive linemen Jacob Campos and Randall Shamon and sophomore defensive linemen Andres Hernandez and Khalil Plummer.

The Norsemen’s schedule also includes games against Monte Vista (March 19), Mount Miguel (March 26), Serra (April 2), Santana (April 9) and El Capitan (April 16).

Taking flight

The Granite Hills Eagles finished 5-6 last season with a 25-16 first-round loss in the Division I playoffs to La Costa Canyon.

Head coach Kellan Cobbs is looking to see what his team can do in a shortened season where most teams find themselves in a similar situation.

“We look to continue to be able to run the football and play great defense,” Cobbs said. “We return five starting offensive linemen, our quarterback and running back, so we expect to be able to move people up front and run the ball.

“On defense we return one defensive lineman and all our starting linebackers. Our secondary is young at the safety position but are very talented. We also return two starting corners from last year’s squad. We are very excited about our freshman class and we expect to play up to five freshman this year on varsity.”

Top returners include seniors Matt Keeley, Tanner Vielguth, Justus McComb, Dimitri Fuentes, Stan Earley and juniors Jaquayle Hodges and Zach Burton.

Keeley, a second-team all-league performer last season, is listed as a defensive back and wide receiver. Cobbs feels he has the potential to be an All-CIF player this season.

Vielguth, a standout wrestler, earned first-team all-league honors last season as a lineman.

McComb, the team’s quarterback, returns after earning second team all-league honors in 2019 while Fuentes and Earley, both offensive linemen, are three-year starters.

Hodges, who accumulated 398 all-purpose yards in nine games last season, is a three-year starter while Burton is slated to compete at the tight end/defensive end positions.

Impact newcomers include senior receiver Angel Almazon, sophomore receiver Joaquin Thomas and senior defensive lineman Joseph Holt.

The Eagles possess a challenging schedule that includes league games against Grossmont (March 26 and April 16), Steele Canyon (April 2) and Helix (April 9) besides a home match-up against El Capitan (March 19).

Cougar country

The Steele Canyon Cougars finished the 2019 season with a 9-2 overall record, 4-1 in Grossmont Hills League play. The Cougars ended their season with a 26-19 overtime playoff loss to Oceanside, the eventual Division I champion.

The Cougars had received the top seed in the division and likely still retain a bad taste in their mouths many months later.

It will be interesting to see how the team rebounds this spring.

“We are extremely young but very football smart,” Steele Canyon head coach Scott Longerbone said. “Our sophomore class is loaded with talent. We are fast on defense and we have experience on the offensive line. And we have a quarterback returning who started the last three games last season.”

Top returners include junior offensive lineman Logan Hicks, senior quarterback Elia Kirisimasi, defensive linemen Josiah Stewart (senior) and Finley O’Gorman (sophomore) and offensive lineman Isaac Ramirez.

Kirisimasi completed 69 percent of his passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns (with one interception) in three games last season.

The team’s impact newcomers include sophomore running back Major Givens, sophomore safety Adrien Chargalof, sophomore offensive lineman Enzo D’Agusta, junior linebacker Temo Rangel, junior cornerbacks Nate Gillis and Leon Gillis and junior defensive lineman Camrien Hunt.

The Cougars play at Cathedral Catholic (March 19) and Helix twice (March 26 and April 16) to round out one of the section’s more challenging schedules that also includes games against El Capitan (March 26), Granite Hills (April 2) and Grossmont (April 9).