Helix makes playoff run in Open Division to move on to semifinals

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Every November, as families buy Thanksgiving turkeys and cranberry sauce and stores begin to tentatively hang up early Christmas decorations, East County football plunges into the best season of the year: playoffs. 

With established programs like Helix and Grossmont High School, football in the Grossmont conference is usually well-represented in CIF. This year is no different.

Every November, as families buy Thanksgiving turkeys and cranberry sauce and stores begin to tentatively hang up early Christmas decorations, East County football plunges into the best season of the year: playoffs. 

With established programs like Helix and Grossmont High School, football in the Grossmont conference is usually well-represented in CIF. This year is no different.

On Nov. 17, Helix (No. 2) improved over Madison (No. 7) in a 19-11 victory in the Open Division to move on to semifinals. Grossmont (No. 8) dropped in the first round to Mission Hills (No. 1), 52-42. 

In Division II, No. 6 seed Granite Hills and No. 7 seed Steele Canyon both fought through two rounds, and are set to face each other this weekend in the semifinals. 

Helix head coach Robbie Owens said the Highlanders only have one goal for playoffs: win. 

“When we’re playing at Helix, the number one thing is to win a CIF championship,” said Owens. “Helix has won eight championships, this is the year to win nine. That’s the ultimate goal and we’ve talked about it since day one.”

The Highlanders take down of Madison was a testament to their will to win. Owens said he knew the game against Madison (8-3) was going to be a challenge. 

“This week has probably been the strangest I’ve felt in 22 years of coaching,” he said. “One thing is that I love coach Jackson. I wanted to play him later on in the playoffs. They made such a run last year in the playoffs, they have this magic about them. The embrace with [Jackson] at the end is because I respect him probably more than anybody I’ve ever faced.”

The Warhawks’ head coach Rick Jackson runs a strong program, one known for coming back in the second half. And after three quarters of submitting to the Highlander’s offense, that is exactly what they did.

Up 12-0 at halftime, with another touchdown in the third quarter, the Highlanders said they knew not to get comfortable. Sophomore running back Elelyon Noa said the team was not about to get complacent. Wise thinking. The Warhawks burst out into the fourth quarter with a touchdown and two-point conversion

“We were trying to get hyped during halftime because we knew Madison was going to come out strong in the second half,” said Noa. 

Noa, who is back after four weeks off the bench with a broken hand, was a critical figure on the field, rushing 160 yards, several after contact. 

“That kid is special,” said Owens, “All-around, he’s a guy who’s on the field a lot and at the end he didn’t wear down. He’s a work-horse.” 

Senior running back Rashad Scott said the win against Madison was well-earned and one he considers to be an accomplishment.

“We’ve watched them come out tough every second half,” he said. “They’re the defending State champs, and we just knew that they were going to come out, so we had to come out better.”

Scott said the Highlanders can only move forward from here.

“We’re going to learn from our mistakes, but we’re going to push this game behind us and focus on the next one,” he said.“I’m trying to go as far as possible and I know the sky’s the limit with this team.”

Owens said his hopes are high for the end of the season.

“I want to play four more games and I realize what a special group we have,” he said. “I mean this from the bottom of my heart, I love this group and I don’t want this to end.”

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