Helix takes the high road to Grossmont Hills League title with 29-14 win over Foothillers

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Photo by Phillip Brents Helix’s Christian Washington bursts down the sideline.

The Campbell Musket stays at Helix Charter High School and so, it appears, does the Grossmont Hills League championship.

The Highlanders were the last official league champions with a 5-0 record, 11-2 overall, during the pre-COVID 2019 season.

Teams played in the spring but there were no official league titles decided, at least in the Grossmont Conference.

The Scotties improved to 2-0 in league play this year after defeating the visiting Grossmont Foothillers, 29-14, last Friday.

Grossmont Hills League teams will play three league games this season, meaning the worst Helix can finish this season is with a tie for the championship.

The Highlanders (5-3 overall) close out regular season play at Granite Hills (0-2 in league, 4-5 overall) this Friday. The section playoffs kick off Nov. 5.

“Beating Grossmont is always a difficult task since they haven’t beat us since 1991, so there is always going to be pressure to make sure the streak and Musket stay with Helix,” Highlanders head coach Robbie Owens said.

The Scotties, who have retained bragging rights to the rivalry trophy now for the past 25 years, kicked off the season 2-0 and were 3-1 in the win-loss column before dropping a pair of non-league contests against out-of-region opponents – 42-7 at Anaheim Servite on Sept. 24 and 28-21 against visiting Mission Viejo on Oct. 8.

Helix dropped a 52-0 non-league game at top-ranked Cathedral Catholic on Sept. 10.

The Highlanders started league play with a 27-22 come-from-behind win over visiting Steele Canyon on Oct. 15. They carry a two-game winning streak into Friday’s game against the Eagles, who recorded a rare 35-21 win over the La Mesa team during the shortened spring season.

Helix enters the final week of regular season play No. 5 in the San Diego Section Division I power rankings and are potentially toying either with admission to the Open Division playoffs or the No. 1 seed in the Division I playoffs.

Grossmont (1-1 in league, 3-6 overall) is No. 10 in the Division I power rankings while Steele Canyon (1-1, 2-7) is No. 13 and Granite Hills is No. 14.

All four East County teams in the division are guaranteed playoff berths. Steele Canyon and Granite Hills are potentially toying with netting a home game in the opening round with a big win to end the regular season.

“Obviously, winning the Grossmont Hills League title is an important step in our process,” Owens said. “We feel that every year if we play the way we are capable of that we will have an opportunity to win the league title.

“We are a very young football team that continues to strive to get better. Playing a very tough early season schedule has definitely prepared us for league and CIF title runs.”

Senior Christian Washington rushed 22 times for 203 yards and scored three touchdowns to once again lead the Highlanders’ scoring parade. He scored on breakaway runs of 37, 36 and 33 yards.

Junior Adren Parker had three catches for 17 yards and scored one touchdown.

Sophomore quarterback Ryland Jessee passed for 79 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Senior Xavier Van had two interceptions for 48 yards. Senior Noah Horvath kicked two extra-point conversions and split the uprights on a 30-yard field goal.

On the season Washington has rushed for 1,132 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. He has 1,591 total yards, including 264 yards and one receiving touchdown for a team-leading total of 16 touchdowns.

Jessee has compiled 1,005 passing yards with seven touchdowns and four picks.

Grossmont senior quarterback Trenton Giles passed for 262 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Senior Ryan Rodieck had 13 catches for 196 yards and one touchdown. Senior Brennan Sanders scored on a four-yard run.

Sophomore cornerback Jojo Benavente and senior linebacker Ryan Odom both had interceptions.

On the season Giles has thrown for 1,683 yards with 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while Rodieck had 737 receiving yards and scored five touchdowns through the air.

Despite the loss, the Foothillers still have a chance to earn a league co-championship with a win over host Steele Canyon should Helix falter in its final regular season game. The same goes for the Cougars, who edged visiting Granite Hills, 21-20, last Friday to even their league record at 1-1.

The Eagles, who went undefeated in league play during the 2021 spring season, could play spoilers in the 2021 fall league mix.

“I felt we fought hard Friday night,” Foothillers coach Chris Holmes said. “We brought a tremendous amount of effort. We need to figure out how to finish on the big plays — offensively we left far too many big plays off the scoreboard.

“Playing a talented running back like Washington, we need to do a better job defensively with our alinement and getting to him before he has the chance to get going.

“A Granite win over Helix would give us a co-Hills League title. That would be something great for our program. Granite has the size and some talented athletes, so it is possible. However, Helix will be looking to close out with a big win as they set their eyes on the playoffs. I don’t think they will overlook Granite, but if they do, Granite has a chance to edge them.”

Steele Canyon received rushing touchdowns from junior running back Major Givens and senior quarterback Jacob Manzo and a 33-yard interception return for a touchdown by junior Adrien Chargualaf to spike the Eagles.

Granite Hills scored late in the game on a 16-yard run by senior Patrick Brady but missed the two-point conversion run in a bid to win the game.

The contest between neighborhood rivals was hotly contested right down to the final minute. The teams were tied at 7-7 at halftime and 14-14 though three quarters.

Hard-hitting defense was lights out for both teams. Junior Joaquin Thomas Jr. scored the game’s opening points on a 64-yard pick-six in the second quarter for the visitors. Thomas later scored on a four-yard run in the fourth quarter.

“It’s always a good game with Steele Canyon,” Granite Hills head coach Kellan Cobbs said. “I thought the best chance we had to win was to go for two points, and we came up half-yard short. The defense played really well for us. The offense has to play more consistently.

“Against Helix, we have to stop Washington. I believe he’s the best player in the county.”

Helix takes the high road to Grossmont Hills League title with 29-14 win over Foothillers