Highlanders enjoying renewed success in boys lacrosse season

The high school boys lacrosse season is a month old and several East County teams have already started to make a push upward in the San Diego Section rankings. The Grossmont Foothillers entered the week ranked fifth overall based on their 8-1 record.
Teams ahead of them included No. 1 Torrey Pines (5-4), No. 2 Bishop’s (10-0), No. 3 Cathedral Catholic (3-5) and No. 4. La Costa Canyon (6-3).
Grossmont dropped an 11-3 decision to La Costa Canyon. Otherwise, the Foothillers have been dominant on the turf with lopsided victories against Coronado (14-3 on March 7), Valhalla (18-3 on March 9), San Marcos (14-5 on March 11), Granite Hills (21-3 on March 23), Santana (16-2 on March 25) and El Capitan (19-0 on March 30).
The Foothillers defeated Houston (Tex.) Kinkaid, 11-7, in an out-of-section matchup on March 18 and faced off second-round league play with a 20-0 win at Valhalla on Saturday.
Helix Charter has also made strides this season despite holding down a No. 40 ranking among the section’s 59 active teams this spring.
But there was essentially nowhere else to go but up after turning in a 1-16 season last year.
“It’s a huge improvement from last year,” said Highlanders coach John Whittles following a 6-5 overtime win at Hilltop in a non-league game on March 31. “We have a lot of freshmen; we have a couple of returners from last year. We’re still finding our way, slowly but surely.”
While still hovering in the lower half of the Grossmont Conference standings with a 2-4 league record, much of this season so far has been a night-and-day scenario for Helix.
The Highlanders faced off the 2022 spring season with an 11- 1 non-league win at Lincoln on March 2, then lost 9-1 to Bonita Vista in another non-league encounter on March 4.
The Scotties got back in the win column with a 9-7 decision at El Capitan on March 9, then extended their win streak to three games with ensuing victories against West Hills (10-3 on March 11) and Monte Vista (12-3 on March 16).
Helix lost its next three league games – 15-1 to visiting Granite Hills on March 18, 16-1 to visiting Santana on March 23 and 16-2 at Valhalla on March 25.
The Highlanders returned to the win column with the overtime win at Hilltop before dropping an 8-4 league decision to visiting El Capitan on April 1.
Impact freshmen include Jeremiah King and Ryan Appenfeller. Key returners include Gio Cisneros, Ryan Olson, Morgan Lennon and goalkeeper Nick Serrano.
“We’ve got a pretty young group,” said Olson, a senior attackman. “We’ve got a tough schedule early to hopefully get us to develop faster.”
Hungry like the wolf
West Hills is off to a modest 1-3 record in its opening four games as an independent this season. The Wolf Pack lost its first game, 13-1, at Bonita Vista on March 3, then followed with the 10-3 loss at Helix before falling, 16-2, to visiting Valley Center on March 15.
West Hills picked up its first win, 10-4, against visiting Mar Vista on March 24.
The Wolf Pack has three more games scheduled: April 7 at the Preuss School and a home-and home series against El Capitan (April 8 in Lakeside) and May 3 at home).
Should West Hills complete its trial season in good standing, there is hope the Wolf Pack will be admitted to the Grossmont Conference for next season. If such occurs, the Grossmont Conference would expand its current membership from seven teams to eight teams and allow for two four-team leagues to be formed.
“That’s we’ve been waiting for,” Whittles said.

Boys Lacrosse/Preps
(Through April 2)
Grossmont 4-0, 8-1
Santana 5-2, 9-5
Granite Hills 4-2, 6-5
Valhalla 3-3, 5-4
Helix 2-4, 5-5
El Capitan 2-5, 3-6
Monte Vista 0-5, 0-9
(Through April 1)
1. Torrey Pines 5-4
2. Bishop’s 10-0
3. Cathedral Catholic 3-5
4. La Costa Canyon 8-3
5.Grossmont 7-1
6. Santa Fe Christian 5-2
7. Poway 5-3
8. Patrick Henry 5-2
9. San Marcos 3-5
10. Westview 6-3
11. Coronado 1-7
12. Carlsbad 6-4
13. La Jolla Country Day 3-3
14. La Jolla 2-7
15. Mt. Carmel 3-7
16. St. Augustine 0-6
17. Santana 9-4
18. Del Norte 2-8
19. Granite Hills 6-5
20. Scripps Ranch 5-3
21. Valley Center 6-2
22. Francis Parker 7-1
23. Fallbrook 8-2
24. Pacific Ridge 3-3
25. Valhalla 6-3
26. University City 8-1
27. San Dieguito Academy 5-4
28. Rancho Bernardo 2-7
29. Canyon Crest Academy 3-3
30. Eastlake 2-5
31. Point Loma 4-3
32. Bonita Vista 3-3
33. Mission Hills 2-5
34. El Camino 1-8
35. Sage Creek 8-0
36. El Capitan 3-6
37. Hilltop 4-7
38. Foothills Christian 5-4
39. Olympian 3-5
40. Helix Charter 5-5
Note: 59 schools fielding teams in 2022