Helix and Grossmont wrangle for the coveted musket for the 68th year

Virgil Bell, Grossmont High’s football captain in 1951, was handed “Old Betsy” at a post-game dance attended by students of both Grossmont and Helix High Schools on Nov. 2 of that year.

Just a couple of hours earlier at Aztec Bowl, the Foothillers were the first winners of the Campbell Musket, an old Civil War-era weapon donated by the family of Highlander starting halfback and senior class president, Jack Campbell, as a perpetual trophy to commemorate a new rivalry between the schools, which actually shared the Grossmont campus initially because of construction delays.

The Hillers won the first game against the Highlanders, 13-6, as Grossmont halfback Ken Brown rushed for a 2-yard score following a blocked punt late in the third quarter.

Nearly 70 years later, “The Musket” has basically been nailed to a wall in the Helix High library for the last 22 years.

The schools will meet for the 64th time on Friday night at Jack Mashin Stadium with stakes nearly as high as they’ve ever been between the two teams, but for many fans outside of the Grossmont campus, the expectation remains the same.

Grossmont and Helix practically split the next 40 meetings after that first matchup. The Foothillers last won the trophy in 1991, led by quarterback Tom Karlo, the current GHS head coach.

You wonder if the Hillers ever get their hands on that gun again if they might just break it.

This year’s Grossmont unit, ranked seventh in last week’s official San Diego CIF power ratings, would be nearly as good as any previous club with the team coming into the contest with a 6-1 record, identical to the Scotties.

However, the 2019 version of the Highlanders is currently ranked first in the section by the local media and 10th in the state by the computer power rankings.

Grossmont quarterback Jaime Odom turned in one of the most memorable plays in school history last Friday night at Granite Hills with a 46-yard scramble on a fourth-and-2 with a minute-and-a-half remaining, lifting the Foothillers to 2-0 in the Grossmont Hills League with a 33-32 victory, after trailing by 11 with eight minutes left.

Meanwhile, Hiller Robert Tucker has been the East County’s second-best running back this season, but the senior could be the best on the field come Friday if Helix’s senior star, Elelyon Noa, is forced to miss any more time with a left foot injury suffered in a win over El Capitan two weeks ago.

The Highlanders managed just fine without Noa last week behind sophomore back Christian Washington, who rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-2 win over Valhalla.

Senior quarterback Kamryn Brown passed for a pair of touchdowns, while his junior brother, Jaiden, returned an interception 77 yards for a touchdown.

Freshman Puka Noa, the younger brother of Elelyon and former Helix star Zeke Noa, had his first career interception.

Grossmont has been given modest consideration in previous renewals over the last two decades but the result has remained the same, including a 68-7 playoff drubbing last year.

While the Scotties are still the obvious favorite once again, one thing is for certain for perennially upset-mined Grossmont. The Foothillers are due.

No. 14 Santana (8-0, 2-0 GVL) at Monte Vista (3-4, 1-0 GVL) – The defending Grossmont Valley League champion Monarchs will defend their title against the 14th-ranked Sultans during Homecoming on Sweetwater Springs Boulevard Friday night.

The Monarchs are back in the Valley’s championship-deciding game next week after defeating visiting Mount Miguel Matadors to keep community bragging rights after a 55-34 win on Friday night.

The game was played with heavy hearts following the death of construction worker Jose Navarro, of Bakersfield, who fell from a 30-foot platform on the school’s development site earlier in the week.

Monte Vista senior running back Isiah Gardner rushed 29 times for 173 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.

Monarch senior quarterback Ruben Silva rushed for two touchdowns, while senior teammate Jovani Olivas returned a kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown.

The Monarchs offensive line – led by juniors Aaron Bustos and Jesse Schroeder, and seniors Angel Villanueva, Brandon Narvaez and Jared Reinholdt. Senior Emanuel Zamudio and junior Victor Meza – helped open the running lanes.

The win gave head coach Ron Hamamoto his 230th career win, passing Morse High legend John Shacklett for fourth place in section history.

Now the Monarchs could claim another league title for the master, who has a long-standing reputation of getting the most out of his charges.

For Hamamoto and his Monarchs, it seems like win No. 230 was taking a while to achieve but now Monte Vista has earned its way into the “next” biggest game of the Grossmont Valley League season when it hosts the undefeated Sultans.

Monte Vista owned Santana last season in a 35-0 win in Santee when the teams played just one half after a lightning storm ended the game at halftime.

That game was dominated by Monarch running back Jahmon McClendon, who had five touchdowns and 329 yards in just two quarters.

The Sultans, meanwhile, ripped the Honorable Jack Dale Mayor’s Cup from West Hills’ seven-year grasp with a 27-13 win at Community Stadium last Friday.

Brooks Moutaw returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and rushed for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Sultans a 21-6 lead with nine minutes to play.

For comparison, the Monarchs beat the Matadors by 19 on Friday night, while Santana defeated Mount Miguel on the road, 56-14, a week ago.

Santana can clinch a share of its first league championship in 20 years with a win.

Valhalla (3-4, 0-2 GHL) at No. 5 Steele Canyon (7-0, 2-0 GHL) – The Cougars, who defeated El Capitan, 35-13, last Friday on Homecoming, were the No. 1 team in the section power ratings last week.

Steele Canyon head coach Scott Longerbone, who also is the team’s special teams coach, almost went broke last season promising his unit a trip to a nearby Chinese buffet restaurant on Saturday for every week the team returned a kick or punt for a touchdown in the previous night’s game.

This season, though, despite all the return speed on the team, the coach hadn’t had to dip into his pockets to treat his guys.

However, senior Chance Johnson brought back a pair of punts 51 and 57 yards against the Vaqueros in the first half to put the establishment on alert. He also had an interception.

The Cougar defense also scored on a pick-six, which as tipped by El Capitan receiver into Cougar corner Antoine Walker’s hands, where he took a circuitous route on the way to an 11-yard score.

Sophomore David Martinez went 5-for-5 on his point-after tries.

Cougar T-Max Nyumah was named Homecoming King, while Braelyn Willis was named Homecoming Queen.

Valhalla senior running back Kaleti Lindsay had 54 yards on 10 carries, while junior receiver Josh Meredith had three receptions for 66 yards for the Norsemen, against Helix last Friday.

Steele Canyon won last year’s renewal of the battle for the Jamacha Helmet, 21-0, in a game shortened by the halftime lightning storms that ended nearly every game early on that peculiar Friday night.

Steele Canyon senior Chris Carter had a 55-yard touchdown in last year’s matchup. The Cougars have held the trophy for the last two years. The series is tied, 8-8-1.

Granite Hills (4-3, 0-2 GHL) at El Capitan (0-7, 0-2 GHL) – Granite Hills Homecoming King Jeremiah Satberry had a 62-yard interception return last Friday, as the Eagles led their thrilling Homecoming game late before relinquishing control to Grossmont in the fourth quarter.

Granite Hills junior quarterback Justus McComb was 24-of-38 passing for 267 yards, including three touchdowns – two of them to senior Juni Harris.

El Capitan outscored the Cougars on Friday, 13-0, in the second half, as Vaquero senior quarterback Wick Hauser completed touchdown passes to sophomore Antwone Yokley and junior Kalen Lavallais.

The Vaqueros will likely need to win two of their last three games to have a chance for a postseason berth.

Mount Miguel (3-4, 0-2 GVL) at El Cajon Valley (3-4, 01 GVL) – Mount Miguel senior wide receiver Jahiem Allen-Pompey reportedly leads the nation in receiving yards with 1,292 and is on pace to beat the section record of 1,742 yards.

Allen-Pompey had seven receptions for 188 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Monarchs. He has 60 receptions on the year and 14 touchdowns.

Junior quarterback J.D. Laverdiere rushed for three touchdowns in addition to his connections with Allen-Pompey. Laverdiere has rushed for 13 touchdowns this season.

The Braves were a minute-and-a-half away from defeating undefeated Castle Park on the road last Friday.

El Cajon Valley junior Clarence Johnson tied the game with a 25-yard run with under five minutes to play to tie the game at 19-all.

Braves junior quarterback Joe Malone passed for 213 yards and two touchdowns, including a 21-yarder to Johnson for the first score of the game in the opening quarter.

The Braves would rally from a 19-6 deficit to tie the game, as junior Damarius Hyde caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Malone in the fourth quarter.

Morse (4-3, 0-1 Eastern) at Christian (5-2, 2-0 Eastern) – The Patriots dominated their Eastern League game with Mira Mesa on Friday night, bringing home a 28-10 win to improve to 2-0.

Patriot senior Nate Stine rushed for 95 yards and three touchdowns, while junior lineman Alonzo Glenn had three sacks.

Alex Markowicz, Van Nevling, and Elio Myers, each had one sack apiece for CHS, while cornerback Carson Opper had a pair of interceptions for the Pats.

The Patriots and Tigers split a pair of games last season with Christian winning on the road 14-8 during the regular season only to drop a second-round game to the Tigers, 34-6, at Valley Stadium.

Morse rushed for over 375 yards in the playoff matchup last year and recorded four sacks.

The Patriots are ahead of the Tigers in the CIF Division II power ratings. Christian entered last week third in Division II while Morse was sixth.

However, despite the slight disparity in records, the Tigers are the higher-rated team coming into the game in the computer rankings.

West Hills (4-3) at Escondido (5-2) – Wolf Pack senior Kole Klingerman had two receiving touchdowns, including a one-handed catch on the second touchdown with five minutes to play that cut Santana’s lead to 27-13.

Klingerman hauled in a 41-yarder early in the game, as West Hills trailed just 7-6 early. Both receptions were from sophomore quarterback Braden Oberg.

West Hills defeated the Cougars last season, 24-7, in Santee, as then-junior Jake Maheu rushed six times for 63 yards and a touchdown. He also had one of seven Pack sacks.

Foothills Christian (7-0, 4-0 Ocean) at San Pasqual Academy (6-0, 4-0 Ocean) – The top two teams in the section 8-man power ratings meet in Escondido in a game that should decide the Ocean League championship.

The Knights haven’t played since Sept. 20 – a 60-8 win at Borrego Springs – after receiving a pair of forfeit victories, while the Dragons won at Borrego last week, 74-29.