Vaqueros, Braves advance to CIF second round with playoff wins

Photo by Anthony Bartotto The El Capitan Vaqueros had plenty to celebrate in last Friday’s 30-14 San Diego Section Division III playoff win at Patrick Henry High School.

Twelve East County high school football teams qualified for this year’s divisional playoffs. After a week of opening action, nine still remain in contention for championship banners.

The Grossmont Hills League is represented by five teams: third-seeded Granite Hills (Open Division), fourth-seeded Helix Charter (Open Division), third-seeded West Hills (Division III), fourth-seeded Grossmont (Division III) and fourth-seeded Santana (Division IV).

The Grossmont Valley League is represented by three teams: ninth-seeded El Capitan (Division III), top-seeded Mt. Miguel (Division IV) and third-seeded El Cajon Valley (Division V).

The eight-person Ocean League is represented by top-seeded Foothills Christian.

El Capitan and El Cajon Valley both won first-round games last weekend while Granite Hills and Helix received byes to the Open Division semifinals. West Hills, Grossmont, Santana, Mt. Miguel and Foothills Christians all received first-round byes in their respective brackets.

Three Grossmont Conference teams ended their seasons in their first playoff game: ninth-seeded Steele Canyon (Division II), fifth-seeded Monte Vista (Division V) and eighth-seeded Valhalla (Division V).

Open Division

The San Diego Section should maximize its gate for this year’s Open Division playoffs with high-profile semifinal tilts scheduled on Thursday (Nov. 9) and Friday (Nov. 10). Second-seeded Carlsbad (10-0) and third-seeded Granite Hills (10-0) got the jump on Thursday while top-seeded Lincoln (10-0) will host fourth-seeded Helix Charter (9-1) on Friday at 6 p.m.

The two winners will play one another for this year’s Open Division championship on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Snapdragon Stadium. Kick-off is 7 p.m.

Best of the rest

All quarterfinal games in Division III and Division IV will take place on Friday, Nov. 10, starting at 7 p.m.

West Hills (6-4) will host sixth-seeded La Jolla Country Day (8-3) while Grossmont (5-5) will host fifth-seeded Santa Fe Christian (6-5). El Capitan (7-4) will play at top-seeded Mission Bay (7-3).

Winners advance to the division semifinals. The Division III championship game is scheduled Nov. 25 at Southwestern College at 2 p.m.

Mt. Miguel (9-1) will host ninth-seeded Escondido (3-8) while Santana (4-6) will host fifth-seeded Crawford (8-3) in Division IV.

The winners will face each other in the division semifinals the following week. The Division IV championship game is scheduled Nov. 24 at Southwestern College at 2 p.m.

El Cajon Valley (5-6) will travel to second-seeded Sweetwater (5-6) for Friday’s Division V semifinal match-up. The winner will face the winner between top-seeded Vincent Memorial Catholic (8-3) and fourth-seeded Hoover (7-4).

The Division V championship game is scheduled Nov. 17 at Escondido High School (7:30 p.m. kick-off).

The Division 6 (eight-person) semifinals are also scheduled for Friday. Foothills Christian (7-2) will host fourth-seeded Coastal Academy (6-5) while second-seeded St. Joseph Academy (7-2) will host third-seeded Calvin Christian (6-3).

The two semifinal winners will meet in the division championship game on Nov. 17 at Escondido High School (4:30 p.m. kick-off).

Of the 19 games scheduled last weekend, lower-seeded teams pulled upsets in four games, among them El Capitan in Division III, ninth-seeded Madison (27-0 over eighth-seeded Mater Dei Catholic) in Division I, ninth-seeded Escondido (27-13 at eighth-seeded Calexico) in Division IV and fifth-seeded Maranatha Christian (35-14 over fourth-seeded Rock Academy) in Division VI.

Of note: fifth-seeded Crawford (8-3) advanced to the Division IV quarterfinals with a forfeit win over 12th-seeded Orange Glen. It was announced that Orange Glen had to forfeit all its games because of an ineligible player the Patriots used all season.

The timing of the forfeitures was unfortunate as it did not allow the next team up, believed to be Hilltop, from participating in this year’s playoff field. Orange Glen finishes the season 0-11.

Eastern exposure

Junior Brandt Barker passed for 247 yards and four touchdowns to lead the visiting Vaqueros to a 30-14 win at eighth-seeded Patrick Henry (5-6). Touchdown receptions went to seniors Julian May (nine catches, 146 yards), Chance LaChappa (three catches, 58 yards) and Jonathan Biffle (one catch, 37 yards) and junior Ayden Benegas (one catch, five yards).

Junior Brady Joralemon rushed 20 times for 132 yards while junior Wyatt Dunn was perfect on all five extra-point tries.

El Capitan recorded four sacks (one each by junior Aaron Altamirano and seniors Shune Hayes, senior Justin Hilderbran and Gavin Aames), two interceptions (LaChappa and junior Kory Savage) and a safety. LaChappa returned his pick 24 yards while Altamirano led the team with 13 tackles, including two for losses.

The Vaqueros will now tangle with the top-seeded Bucs, who are led by senior quarterback Charlie Hutchison (1,075 passing yards, 18 touchdowns).

El Cajon Valley coach Nick Osborn was concerned that his team could contain prolific junior quarterback Brodie Stump. But the Braves clicked on all cylinders, both offense and defense, to get post a commanding 49-6 opening-ground win over the sixth-seeded Kearny Komets (7-4).

“The plan was to limit their QB by maintaining disciplined coverage,” Osborn said. “Our guys did that and kept the QB on run with pressure from the D-line. Kearny came out with high tempo, moving fast and completing every pass, but our defense remained steady and didn’t give up the big play. That was our goal. We know they would plenty of completions, but the goal was to make sure they were short completions and not big ones.

“Chris Cosio was very solid in coverage of their wide receivers and broke up many potential big plays down the field including an interception. Our offensive line didn’t have their best game, but they were solid and allowed us to rush for 225 yards and pass for 135 yards. We made some tweaks in our run game to give us an edge upfront and it worked for us, allowing us to control the clock.”

Senior quarterback Darick Dubose passed for 135 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for another while senior Massih Ehsan (29 carries, 131 yards) rushed for two touchdowns to lead the hosts. Dubose also had two interceptions, including one for a touchdown.

Senior Paris Dixon (three catches, 74 yards) and senior Shane Hopson (one catch, 23 yards) each had touchdown receptions while sophomore Danny Martinez (eight carries, 48 yards) scored one rushing touchdown.

Senior Jordan Burke recorded one sack. Senior Cristofer Gonzalez notched seven kicking points on four successful PAT conversions and a 36-yard field goal.

The Braves will travel to National City on Friday to try to contain the prolific rushing attack of the Sweetwater Red Devils, who ran over the seventh-seeded Southwest El Centro Eagles, 44- 20, last Friday.

Sweetwater rushed for 494 yards and six touchdowns, led by senior Carlos Delgado (187 yards, three touchdowns). Seniors Xzavier Crews (972 rushing yards) and Delgado (705 rushing yards) have each scored nine touchdowns this season.

Next up

•West Hills will face a LJCD team coming off a 36-8 first-round win over visiting Morse (4-7) as senior Jaden Mangini passed for two touchdowns while rushing for two scores. Mangini finished the game with 312 total offensive yards (151 rushing, 161 passing) to lead the Torreys.

•Grossmont will host a SFC team coming off a 35-9 win at the 12th-seeded San Diego Cavers (4-7). Junior Andrew Hidy threw two touchdown passes for the Eagles to go with three rushing touchdowns.

• Grossmont Valley League champion Mt. Miguel will host an Escondido team that pulled off a 37-21 upset win at eighth-seeded Calexico (5-6).

•Santana will host a Crawford team that last played on Oct. 27, a 46-44 win over Hoover. Senior Joseph Minchello leads the Colts with 1,079 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.

•Foothills Christian will face a Coastal Academy team bent on another upset after tipping fourth-seeded San Pasqual Academy, 48-44, last Friday. Foothills Christian did defeat Coastal Academy, 42-27, en route to its undefeated 5-0 record in league play.

Next year

Not so fortunate to advance were Steele Canyon (28-7 loss to eighth-seeded Oceanside), Monte Vista (48-41 loss to Hoover) and Valhalla (42-15) loss at Vincent Memorial Catholic).

Steele Canyon ended its season with a 5-6 record as junior quarterback Joseph Vinup tossed a pair of touchdown passes for Oceanside (7-4) and senior Da’mariay Vivian and sophomore David Daniels each scored one rushing touchdown to pace the host Pirates, who have returned to the win column following a 0-10 season in 2022.

Senior Michael Lindley scored on a six-yard run in the fourth quarter to avert the shutout for the Cougars.

Oceanside next plays at No. 1 seed Del Norte (8-2).

Valhalla (3-8) fell behind 28-0 at halftime to the host Scots (8-3) but rallied with a 15-14 scoring edge in the second half in closing out the season.

VHS senior quarterback Braxton Estes and senior running back Dominic Silva (42-yard touchdown run) both scored for the East County visitors.

Junior quarterback Kristian Noriega passed for 400 yards while completing four touchdown passes to lead Hoover past Monte Vista (3-8).

Sir Autry (17 carries, 101 yards) scored three rushing touchdowns for the host Cardinals while senior Exavier Williams (six catches, 243 yards) had three receiving touchdowns.

Monte Vista kept clawing back throughout the game, trailing 41-34 late before Hoover went up by two scores. The Monarchs scored again to make it a one-score game but ran out of time.

San Diego Section Championship Football Games

Saturday, Nov. 18 at Snapdragon Stadium, 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 24 at Southwestern College, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 25 at Southwestern College,7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 25 at Southwestern College, 2 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 24 at Southwestern College, 2 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 17 at Escondido High School, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 18 at Escondido High School, 1 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 17 at Escondido High School, 4:30 p.m.