EC Preps

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: HIGHLANDERS ARE OPEN DIVISION CHAMPIONS

2017 SAN DIEGO CIF OPEN DIVISION CHAMPION HELIX HIGHLANDERS / PHOTO @SDFNLMagazine

EAST COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS

CIF OPEN DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP

By Adam Paul

CHULA VISTA (12-2-17)

Everyone who was anyone knew that the two best teams in San Diego were about to faceoff. This had been expected since the summer time when each team lost in a 7-on-7 tournament just before they would have faced each other.

Except this time it wasn’t for a summer tournament championship. This time it was for all the marbles of an Open Division Championship in front of a crown estimated to be about 10,000 if not more. The lines were so long at Chet DeVore Stadium at Southwestern College that the start time of the game was postponed to accommodate people trying to get in.

Once everyone was in the stadium and situated in their seats everyone knew they were in for a treat. The crowd on each side was loud and proud. It was a super electric atmosphere. Each student section was doing their thing as Helix’s student section known as “The DawgHouse” chanted their chants and the Mission Hills student section known as “The Growl Crowd” did their chants as well.

The contest between the two best defenses in San Diego and teams could have been seen as an equivalent of when Hulk Hogan took on the Eighth Wonder of The World Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III which was dubbed as “The irresistible force meeting the immovable object.”

That is how big this game was considered in San Diego. It had that magnitude.

Once the game got started the two teams didn’t disappoint as it seemed that every score between the two were lead changes. Also both teams made the plays necessary that it seemed that they all had an impact.

Both teams ran their offense with Helix using the ground game while Mission Hills tried to use the air game.

However the man who would have the biggest impact on the outcome was really one of the smallest. For Helix, Elelyon Noa would have his day as he ran for 164 yards and three scores on 29 carries. Noa impacted the outcome in the fourth as he was able to run out the clock in the final four minutes by securing multiple first downs.

In the beginning it was Mission Hills who struck first as they would march down before they would have to settle for a field goal. It would be Ezekeal Mata with the 19-yarder to make it 3-0 Grizzlies.

Helix would answer as they marched down on an eight-play, 69-yard drive which ended with Noa’s first TD run of 3-yards out at 6:52. However the extra point was no good so it was 6-3.

Mission Hills responded with a long drive of their own. They wound up with a 13-play, 73-yard drive that allowed them to retake the lead 10-6 on a 2-yard score by Sam Dixon.

Interestingly enough neither team converted a first down until 3:18 left in the first quarter. One of the big highlights came for the Highlanders in the first quarter as Carson Baker was able to find Isaiah Wooden 32-yard spectacular over the shoulder catch to lead 12-10.

Mission Hills would receive the second half kickoff and they took advantage of that as Jack Tuttle was 4-of-6 for 63 yards capped by a 7-yard scoring strike to Chris Olave to retake the lead 16-12.

Helix would answer with another long drive capped by another Noa short score to make it 19-16 with about 2:39 left in the third quarter. Mission Hills would once again knot the score 19-19 on a Mata 26-yard field goal after driving 71-yards.

This didn’t deter the Highlanders as Baker would find Michael Shawcroft on a play action pass for 35-yards over the middle which would set up a 3-yard score by Noa.

Helix would go onto hold the lead until the clock ran out to claim their ninth section title out of 12 appearances in the title game.

Both teams were either Nos 1 or 2 the entire season. Helix was the No. 1 team in the beginning but a 23-6 loss to Lancaster Paraclete in the Honor Bowl flip flopped the two teams. Thus the reason why they were the No 2-seed. In the state the Highlanders were ranked No. 13 and will definitely move up after the victory. With the victory the Highlanders are now moving on to the state playoffs which they claimed in 2011.

Mission Hills on the other hand was ranked No. 10 in the state and it isn’t known if they will make the State Playoffs as well.

 

SCORE: Helix 26, Mission Hills 19

RECORDS: Helix (12-1), Mission Hills (12-1)

Carson Baker on the night for Helix threw for 110 yards on 8 of 12 passing. On the other side, Jack Tuttle was 23 of 43 passing for 295 yards. The best receiver in San Diego according to many, Chris Olave for Mission Hills caught 12 balls for 150 yards.

Defensively for Helix, Isaac Taylor-Stuart tallied 10 tackles to lead, he was followed by Tauanuu, Giles and Raymond Sanchez who each had 7 apiece.

Helix has now won 2 Open Division Titles which is the most since the Open Division was created. Also this was their fourth straight Open Division title tilt.

The other big thing that Helix accomplished and finished was a perfect weekend for East County Football.

Helix, Steele Canyon and Monte Vista the previous evening all defeated teams that came into the championship game undefeated which made El Centro Southwest as the last undefeated team standing. So with that accomplishment the East County was a perfect 3-0 on the weekend.

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