Three East County teams to play for CIF football titles this weekend

The San Diego Section will hold its divisional football championship games this weekend at Southwestern College’s DeVore Stadium in Chula Vista. Among the 10 teams vying for titles are three East County squads: the Helix Highlanders (Open Division), Christian Patriots (Division III) and Santana Sultans (Division IV).

Third-seeded Santana (8-4) will take on the fifth-seeded La Jolla Country Day Torreys (10-3) and record-setting quarterback Braxton Burmeister on Friday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m.

The San Diego Section will hold its divisional football championship games this weekend at Southwestern College’s DeVore Stadium in Chula Vista. Among the 10 teams vying for titles are three East County squads: the Helix Highlanders (Open Division), Christian Patriots (Division III) and Santana Sultans (Division IV).

Third-seeded Santana (8-4) will take on the fifth-seeded La Jolla Country Day Torreys (10-3) and record-setting quarterback Braxton Burmeister on Friday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m.

Top-seeded Christian (12-0) will tackle the second-seeded Bishop’s Knights (12-0) in a match-up of unbeaten teams on Saturday, Dec. 3, starting at 11 a.m.

Second-seeded Helix (10-2) will close out the five-game weekend prep pigskin extravaganza by meeting top-seeded Cathedral Catholic (12-0) on Saturday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m.

This is the third consecutive year that Southwestern College has hosted the division finals. Fans are close to the action and can get loud when their favorite team has the ball.

Helix returns to defend its CIF championship while Christian and Santana are both making a return to the division finals.

Helix overwhelmed St. Augustine, 44-30, to win last year’s Open Division title while Christian stung Hoover by a score of 31-9 to capture the Division III championship two years ago.

Santana recorded a runner-up finish to Valley Center in the Division IV championship game in 2011 at Qualcomm Stadium.

Nate Stinson scored five touchdowns to lead the Scotties in last year’s CIF final. The Highlanders feature a diverse and talented cast this year.

Grossmont Hills League champion Helix eliminated third-seeded Rancho Bernardo (11-1) in the semifinals on Nov. 25 by a score of 28-10.

Freshman Elelyon Noa (14 carries, 109 yards) scored two rushing touchdowns while quarterback Carson Baker (198 passing yards) tossed a scoring pass to Scott Young (six catches, 122 yards). The Scotties collected 271 rushing yards, buttressed by senior Ezekial Noa’s 137 yards on 14 carries.

Evan Perkins also scored on a 40-yard interception return.

The Highlanders topped seventh-seeded Valhalla (8-3) by a score of 14-0 in the quarterfinals on Nov. 18 as Baker rushed for one touchdown and threw for another.

The Highlander defense pitched a shutout against the league rival Norsemen in a game that turned out much closer than their previous league engagement – a 40-13 Helix victory. Ezekiel Noa rushed for 126 yards to lead the Helix ground game while Jaylen Arnold caught the lone touchdown pass in the game.

Cathedral Catholic is one of three remaining undefeated teams in San Diego County, joining Division III finalists Christian and Bishop’s. 

The Dons dispatched eighth-seeded Torrey Pines (8-3) by a score of 45-7 in the quarterfinals on Nov. 18 and eliminated fifth-seeded Mission Hills (7-5) by a score of 44-21 in last weekend’s semifinals.

Tate Haynes completed four touchdown passes while Adam Eastwood and Jordan Genmark-Heath each scored on rushing plays. Haynes hit four different receivers on touchdown passes: Jack Thompson, Patrick Brown, Eastwood and Moroni Anae. The Dons amassed 449 all-purpose yards in the victory.

Helix bowed to Cathedral Catholic, 35-28, in a non-league game on Sept. 16.

Battle of unbeatens

Christian, this year’s City Conference Eastern League champion, has racked up 85 points in its opening two-playoff games. 

Quarterback Brad Jeremiah threw for 208 yards and three touchdowns while Tshombre Carter (16 carries, 82 yards) and Joey Morones (eight carries, 76 yards) each scored on a pair of rushing touchdowns in the Patriots’ 50-27 win over ninth-seeded Hilltop (7-5) in the quarterfinals.

Christian defeated fourth-seeded Lincoln, 35-34, in a high-scoring semifinal match-up that came down to an onside kick attempt by Lincoln that went out of bounds to hand the ball to Christian, which promptly ended the game in victory formation.

The Patriots held a 28-20 lead entering the fourth quarter before the Hornets (7-5) made a late challenge. Jeremiah had 235 passing yards and two touchdowns while Benjamin Goodwin also threw an 84-yard scoring pass. Morones had two rushing touchdowns and Carter had one rushing TD. Goodwin caught eight passes for 124 yards to highlight the Christian receiving corps.

Coastal League champion Bishop’s has been dominant in its two playoff games thus far by defeating 10th-seeded La Jolla (7-5) by a score of 49-0 in the quarterfinals and following that up with a 35-19 semifinal win over third-seeded Valley Center (10-2).

Jeffrey Jackson passed for 236 yards and one touchdown, Mozes Mooney scored two rushing touchdowns and Justin Woodley scored on an interception return in the blowout win over La Jolla while Hasant Moses-Hillman returned the opening kick-off 88 yards for a touchdown to get the Knights rolling in the semifinals. Mooney and Woodley tacked on a pair of first-half scores.

East County showdown

At least one Grossmont Valley League team was guaranteed a berth in the Division IV championship game when Santana drew second-seeded Monte Vista in the division semifinals. That game went back and forth before the visiting Sultans pulled out a tight 35-32 victory.

Previously, Monte Vista had spiked past 10th-seeded Serra – a 24-22 winner over seventh-seeded El Cajon Valley in the opening round — by a score of 39-12 in the quarterfinals while Santana took care of business with a commanding 44-0 win over sixth-seeded Coronado (9-3).

Santana won the teams’ league match-up 46-40, so a shootout was set for the rematch.

Monte Vista went up 12-0 on a pair of touchdowns by Jamez McClendon. The Monarchs later built an 18-15 lead and, in the fourth quarter, McClendon’s third touchdown of the night gave the hosts a 24-22 advantage. Santana turned the score around to its favor, 28-24, on Bobby Wallace’s second touchdown of the night.

The Monarchs (7-5) went ahead, 32-28, after a touchdown by Jose Gonzalez and a successful two-point conversion by McClendon. But Santana quarterback Josh Oedewaldt connected with Brock Ellis for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown as time ticked down in the game. 

Oedewaldt passed for 253 yards and three TDs in the victory. Ellis (nine catches, 176 yards) scored on two pass plays while Wallace rushed 19 times for 164 yards.

LJCD zipped past 12th-seeded Kearny, 60-14, in the opening round and derailed fourth-seeded Mar Vista (8-3) by a score of 62-33 in the quarterfinals.

Burmeister passed for 209 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 89 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Kearny (3-8) and collected 400 passing yards, five passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in the win over Mar Vista, this year’s Metro-South Bay League champion. He passed for 224 yards and rushed for 91 yards in a 21-14 upset win over top-seeded Southwest El Centro in the semifinals.

The LJCD signal caller ranks as the section’s career passing leader. He has thrown for 3,720 yards and 44 touchdowns in 2016.

Almost famous

Grossmont Valley League champion Granite Hills (7-5) advanced as far as the Division II quarterfinals before ending its season with a 40-26 setback to fourth-seeded Olympian (8-4). The fifth-seeded Eagles flattened 12th-seeded San Pasqual, 30-14, to kick off the opening round of the playoffs on Nov. 10.

Jake Siegfried passed for 203 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for another while the Granite Hills defense took care of the rest with six sacks in the win over San Pasqual. Marshal Wasimi caught two scoring passes while Seth Allister scored one rushing touchdown.

Mount Miguel (3-8) also was in action in the first round of the Division II playoffs as the 10th-seeded Matadors ended their season with a 43-12 loss to seventh-seeded Otay Ranch (4-8).

Shemar Greene (13 carries, 40 yards) and Cesar Sigala (two catches, 55 yards) each scored touchdowns for Mt. Miguel.

West Hills (5-6) earned the No. 6 seed in the Division III playoffs and dropped a home game to 11th-seeded Bonita Vista (5-8) in the opening round. Bonita Vista advanced to meet third-seeded El Capitan (4-7) in the quarterfinals and eliminated the Vaqueros by a score of 41-6 to move on to a semifinal date with Metro-Mesa League rival Mater Dei Catholic (11-1), seeded second in the division.

Mission Hills recorded the lone upset so far in the Open Division playoffs by out-lasting fourth-seeded Grossmont, 49-48, in a quarterfinal shootout.

Hunter Gaines threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns in the loss for the Foothillers (9-2). Domonique Guevara (seven catches, 152 yards) caught two of Gaines’ scoring passes.

The Grossmont defense collected three sacks and one interception return for a touchdown by Joe Williams in the one-point setback. Andrew Holt also scored on a fumble return for the hosts.

Mission Hills out-scored the Foothillers 14-6 in what proved to be the decisive fourth quarter after Grossmont had built a 42-35 lead. The Foothillers missed an extra-point conversion on their final touchdown and also missed a potential game-winning field goal with 0.7 seconds left in the game to hand the win to the visiting Grizzlies.

Extra points

Friday’s Division I final match-up pits top-seeded Madison (10-2) against second-seeded St. Augustine (10-2). The teams met in City Conference Western League play, with Madison handing the then top-ranked Saints a 56-42 plastering. Kick off is 7 p.m.

Saturday’s Division II final pits another pair of league rivals in Mater Dei Catholic (11-1) and Olympian (8-4) from the Metro-Mesa League. Mater Dei Catholic, led by Silver Pigskin finalist C.J. Verdell, defeated Olympian previously in league play 28-7. Kick off is 3 p.m.

Verdell scored five touchdowns in a 42-10 semifinal win over Bonita Vista.

Jump start

The CIF finals actually kicked off last Saturday (Nov. 26) with the Division V championship game between third-seeded Tri-City Christian and fourth-seeded Horizon Christian Academy at Southwestern College.

The game is a perfect example of what section officials were clamoring for: competitive balance in the playoffs. The idea behind the new system was to construct divisions where any team had a more or less even chance to win a game in any round of the playoffs.

True to form, both top-seeded Classical Academy and second-seeded Palo Verde Valley made exits prior to the finals. Palo Verde lost 35-6 to seventh-seeded Calexico in the quarterfinals while Horizon Christian defeated Classical Academy, 48-34, in the semifinals.

Tri-City Christian (10-3) topped Calexico, 41-14, in the semifinals.

Horizon Christian (7-6) beat the odds by defeating TCC by a score of 40-18 in the championship game. 

Artyom Harr led Horizon to the title with three rushing touchdowns. The Panthers scored five rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown.

Eight is enough

A total of 13 East County teams qualified for the 2016 section playoffs.

Second-seeded Foothills Christian defeated top-seeded Calvin Christian, 44-38, to win the section’s eight-man playoff championship Nov. 18. Caleb Tarver rushed for 261 yards and scored four touchdowns to lead Foothills while quarterback Daniel Hoffman passed for 185 yards and one score.

Foothills defeated third-seeded St. Joseph Academy, 44-20, in the semifinals of the four-team playoff bracket while Calvin Christian topped fourth-seeded Borrego Springs 51-0.