EC Preps

COUGARS NO LONGER BRIDES MAIDS AFTER THWARTING EAGLES

Photo by Don Demars Photography

EAST COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL CIF DIVISION II SEMI-FINALS

By Adam Paul

EL CAJON – For what seemed like an eternity the Steele Canyon Cougars finally broke through for the first time in the programs fifteen + year history to reach the ship or as many know it as the championship.

GRANITE HILLS AND STEELE CANYON MEET AT CENTER / PHOTO BY DON DEMARS PHOTOGRAPHY

For many years the Cougars were always the bridesmaids as they had previously made it to the semifinals on multiple occasions prior with the last time in 2015. But this time they were determined to change their fortunes.

THOMAS FISHBURNE SCORES / PHOTO BY DON DEMARS PHOTOGRAPHY

The #7 Cougars got the ball rolling in front of a very electric crowd out at Valley Stadium after stopping the Eagles on their first possession. Taking over at about midfield Thomas Fishburne and company went to work with pounding the ball. Fishburne would hand the ball off to Deontae Mckinney who ran for a couple of yards. On the third play of the drive Fishburne found Perry Steele for 14 yards out to the Eagles 31-yard line. A couple of plays later Steele would haul in another pass which set up a short touchdown run by Fishburne to give them an early 7-0 lead.

Trailing the Cougars, #6 seeded Granite looked to tie the game but their 8 play drive would stall at the Cougar 47-yard line and they would have to punt. So with about two minutes left in the first quarter and leading 7-0 the Cougars struck a big blow. On the very first play Fishburne found Jordan Anderson who weaved his way all the way to house for the 80-yard score to give Steele a 14-0 lead.

TYLER GONZALEZ RUNNING / PHOTO BY DON DEMARS PHOTOGRAPHY

However being down two scores didn’t deter the Eagles as Jacob Siegfried and Tyler Gonzalez who would rumble his way down to the 9-yard line of the Cougars which set up a 9 yard score by Siegfried to make it 14-7. The Cougars would get the ball back and unfortunately turn it over as Ethan Bishop picked off Fishburne at the Eagles 34-yard line. Now back in business after the turnover it was a steady formula of the run game for the Eagles that would get them down to the 19-yard line of Steele Canyon. A few plays later the Cougars were able to stop the Eagles who would attempt a 37-yard field goal which was good but a personal foul penalty was called for jumping over the defender which breathed new life for Granite Hills. So with new life the Eagles now had the ball at the 5-yard line and on the very next play Siegfried called his own number and found his way into the end zone which tied it at 14-14.

Now back in business the Eagles kicked off and actually what looked like an onsides attempt which they were actually able to recover at the 42-yardline of the Cougars. With a little over a minute before the intermission the Eagles now had the ball back. A couple of plays into the possession the Cougars were called for a pass interference penalty which put the ball at the 25-yardline of Steele Canyon. A couple plays later Siegfried found Gonzalez who was able to get down to the 12-yardline for an 18 yard gain. The Eagles looked like they would take a lead into the break but a few plays later Siegfried would try and run it in from the 5-yardline but as he was about to score the ball was knocked out and Darren Walton came up with the recovery to end the half.

Steele Canyon after stopping the Eagles just before the half would receive the second half kickoff and again it would be the run game. The running of McKinney and Kenneth Watson along with Fishburne would do the trick. The Cougars would work their way down to the 32-yardline of the Eagles when Fishburne found Steele for 30-yards down to the 2-yardline. On the very next play Fishburne scored to make it 21-14.

The Eagles behind Siegfried would tie the game up again on the very next possession with 7:46 left in the third quarter. However the tie didn’t last as Steele on their next possession once again retook the lead 28-21 on a 13-play drive that would eventually see Fishburne score again.

Heading into the fourth quarter trailing by a touchdown the Eagles knew they needed to do something. Another pass interference call moved the ball out to their own 33-yardline. Siegfried a couple of plays later scrambled to the 42-yardline for a 9 yard gain. However the Cougars defense sniffed out the next run attempt by Siegfried which turned the ball over on downs. Steele was able to move to the 20-yardline where they would attempt a 37-yard field goal but the attempt was blocked and returned to the 43-yardline of Granite.

The crowd for the Eagles was really loud and with only about eight and a half left in the game the Eagles knew they were running out of chances. On the third play of the possession Siegfried again called his own number and scampered for 20-yards to the 27 of the Cougars. Gonzalez would add to that as he ran for 7 yards to the 20. Another Siegfried run for 13 yards put the ball at the 7-yard line. A couple of plays later Siegfried would score to make it 28-27 with about 4:30 left in the game. The Eagles decided to go for the two point conversion which would give them a one point lead but unfortunately the run attempt was sniffed out by Mikel Oliver and the Eagles trailed by one.

Now with 4:17 left the Cougars had the ball at their own 49-yardline after the kickoff return. They would attempt to run the clock down and get first downs behind the running of Watson and McKinney. The run game was effective as the Cougars found themselves at the 30-yardline of Granite Hills where it would be 4th and one. Watson took the handoff but he was stuffed at the line of scrimmage by the Eagles defenders and thus the ball went back to Granite Hills with 1:51 remaining.

Everyone in the stands was nervous as they knew this was it. Both of the teams had previously played to a 43-41 contest that saw the Eagles win on a pass from Siegfried to William Burton for the score with three seconds remaining.

Would déjà vu happen again for the Eagles? Siegfried found Gonzalez for 26-yards and into Cougars territory out at the 42-yard line. Siegfried and company would get the ball down to the Cougars 36-yard line where it would be fourth and four. The Eagles had to get the first down to keep things alive and the Cougars knew they needed the stop. Siegfried took the snap and called his own number but big Darren Walton would find his way and tackle Siegfried for the game winning tackle. Steele Canyon would kneel and take victory formation.

SCORE: #7 Steele Canyon 28, #6 Granite Hills 27

RECORDS: Steele Canyon (9-4), Granite Hills (10-3)

PIVOTAL PLAYS: Granite Hills fumbling the ball as they were about to score just before halftime. The Cougars stuffing the two point conversion of what would have been the go ahead points in the fourth quarter.

NOTES: Cougars quarterback Thomas Fishburne passed for 178 yards and a touchdown and scored 3 more times on the ground. Jacob Siegfried for Granite Hills ran for 145 yards and 4 scores.

Steele Canyon with the win will face #1 Ramona (12-0) in the Division II championship at Southwestern College on December 2nd.  The loss snapped the Eagles 8-game winning streak and the Cougars now have won 5 in a row.

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