Scotties, Saints brace for CIF Open Division pigskin title tilt

2
15
WEBSports.jpg

The high school football season is about to get very interesting indeed for the winners of this weekend’s San Diego Section divisional championships at Southwestern College. Starting this year, all division champions will advance to the state regional playoffs, not just a select few teams based on a poll of the state’s section commissioners, as in the past.

The high school football season is about to get very interesting indeed for the winners of this weekend’s San Diego Section divisional championships at Southwestern College. Starting this year, all division champions will advance to the state regional playoffs, not just a select few teams based on a poll of the state’s section commissioners, as in the past.

The Helix Highlanders have been there and done that, winning the Division II State Bowl championship in 2011 with a 35-24 over Del Oro. Most Valuable Player Brandon Lewis passed for 254 yards and three touchdowns to lead the San Diego Section champions to the state title that year.

The Scotties will have another chance to advance to where few teams have only gone before if they defeat the St. Augustine Saints in Saturday’s Open Division championship game.

The match-up between top-seeded Helix (10-1) and the second-seeded Saints (10-2) is set to kick off at 7 p.m.

The Highlanders have much to make amends for after letting a 10-3 halftime lead slip away in an eventual 20-13 loss to Oceanside in last year’s Open Division final in front of a standing-room only crowd. Many called it one of the finest high school football games ever played in the section.

This year’s Open Division championship game could be another standard-setter.

Helix is riding a 10-game winning streak and has blown out its last 10 opponents, including last Friday’s 42-14 victory against fourth-seeded Cathedral Catholic in the semifinals. The Scotties defeated eighth-seeded Madison, 56-34, in the preceding quarterfinals.

St. Augustine won its last six games and been dominant so far in its two playoff games — defeating seventh-seeded Eastlake, 54-14, in the quarterfinals and third-seeded Mission Hills, 48-14, in last Friday’s semifinals.

Mission Hills took an undefeated 11-0 record into the contest but was no match for the Saints.

Helix and St. Augustine have not met this season. 

The Highlanders dropped its season opener to Scottsdale Chaparral (Ariz.), 23-19, and have not lost since; the Saints are undefeated (10-0) against San Diego County opponents in 2015.

Something will have to give when the section’s behemoths lock horns on the gridiron.

Helix has outscored its opponents 506-149 this season while St. Augustine has racked up a 508-181 scoring edge.

Both teams are led by high-powered running backs.

Helix senior Nathen Stinson, a prime contender for this year’s Silver Pigskin trophy, has rushed for 1,468 yards and scored 27 rushing touchdowns. He is averaging 133.5 rushing yards per game and 9.0 yards per carry. He leads the team with 1,548 all-purpose yards.

Senior quarterback Michael Austin has passed for 1,653 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has tacked on seven rushing touchdowns.

Senior receiver Mekhi Stevenson has collected 724 yards on 30 receptions – 10 of which have resulted in touchdowns for the Scotties.

Stinson rushed for 201 yards and scored three touchdowns in the quarterfinal win over Madison (8-3) while Austin passed for 207 yards and tossed three scoring passes in the win.

Austin and Stinson each scored one rushing touchdown in the semifinal win over Cathedral Catholic (7-5) while senior Nicholas Soliz and junior Ezekiel Noa each scored on interception returns. Junior Matthias Layton led all scorers in the game with 16 kicking points on four field goals and four extra-point conversions.

Saints senior Elijah Preston, another Silver Pigskin finalist, has rushed for 2,089 yards and scored 28 rushing touchdowns. He also has caught three touchdown passes and scored on one kick-off return to lead his team with 32 touchdowns on the season. He has accumulated 2,339 all-purpose yards – an average of 194.9 yards per game.

Preston had 38 carries for 264 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns in last Friday’s win over Mission Hills. He also scored three rushing touchdowns in the quarterfinal win over Eastlake.

St. Augustine junior quarterback Rodney Thompson has passed for 1,490 yards with 24 touchdowns against five picks. He’s also rushed for 447 yards and four touchdowns. He threw four TD passes in the quarterfinal win over Eastlake.

The Saints have others weapons in senior Francoise Sims II, who has scored seven rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns, and senior Jacob Baker, who has caught eight scoring passes.

Of course, neither team would be where it is without a stellar defense.

Noa leads the Highlanders with 73 total tackles and eight sacks. Soliz and junior Scott Young each have four interceptions. As a team, the Scotties have 15 picks, 33 sacks and 10 fumble recoveries.

Senior Quinn Seau leads St. Augustine with 68 total tackles, followed by junior Tariq Thompson with 61 total tackles. Sophomore Andrew Alves tops the Saints with 14 sacks while sophomore Isaac Taylor, junior Darrell Broussard and Tariq Thompson each have three picks. Broussard and senior Andrew Seelert each have three fumble recoveries to their credit.

As a team, the Saints have amassed 13 interceptions, 33 sacks and 15 fumble recoveries.

In other division finals this weekend at Southwestern College, top-seeded Mater Dei Catholic (11-1) and third-seeded Bishop’s (8-4) will rematch in Friday’s Division IV championship game, set for a 3 p.m. kick-off, while top-seeded Oceanside (8-3) and third-seeded El Camino (6-5) will pair up in the Division I championship game at 7 p.m. On Saturday, top-seeded Bonita Vista will meet second-seeded Mission Bay at noon in a battle of 10-2 teams while the Division II final preceding the Helix-St. Augustine clash matches second-seeded Rancho Bernardo (10-2) against fourth-seeded Mt. Carmel (9-3).

Top-seeded Coronado (9-4) kicked off this year’s section finals with a 21-7 victory against second-seeded Crawford (10-3) in last Saturday’s Division V championship game at SWC. Coronado senior Christopher Haas led the Islanders to their second CIF championship in school history by rushing for 159 yards and scoring three touchdowns.

In the Division VI (eight-man) championship game, played Nov. 20 at Calvin Christian High School, fourth-seeded Calvin Christian (8-3) defeated second-seeded Rock Academy, 68-8, for the inaugural Commissioner’s Cup. Senior Roger Moon rushed for 273 yards and scored four touchdowns to pace Calvin Christian while classmate Dylan Truppa scored three TDs in the rout of the Warriors (8-4).

State regional playoff pairings will be announced on Sunday.

2 COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here