The Star-News


Helix Highlanders to vie for football state championship bowl title

Fri, Dec 16 2011 11:09 AM Posted By: Phillip Brents

The San Diego Section’s elite pigskin teams continue to have a presence in California’s State Football Championship Bowl games when the Helix Highlanders tackle Del Oro in Saturday’s Division II title game.

Kick-off is 4 p.m. at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

Helix defeated the Oceanside Pirates, 44-6, to capture the Division II section title Dec. 5 at Qualcomm Stadium. The Scotties bring a 12-1 record into Saturday’s state championship bowl game as well as a 12-game winning streak.

The Highlanders, the Southern California representative, dropped their opening game of the season to the visiting Eastlake Titans and have not lost since. If anything, coach Troy Starr’s team has only gained momentum.

Starr said his team’s goal was to “win its final game of the season.” That would make them state champions.

San Diego Section teams have fared extremely well in the HDC games thus far. Oceanside has won two state bowl games while Cathedral Catholic and the Bishop’s School each have won one state championship.

Del Oro, the Northern California representative, is 13-1.

Patriots Day
Last Friday’s San Diego Section Division V championship game at Mesa College proved to be the most exciting of the section’s five divisional title games this season as the second-seeded Christian Patriots upset the top-seeded Santa Fe Christian Eagles, 32-29, on a 37-yard field goal by Mason Powell with 29 seconds to play.

SFC (11-2) had previously defeated the East County school, 48-34, in Coastal League play and had appeared untouchable in the playoffs. The Eagles defeated defending small schools state bowl champion Bishop’s, 49-6, in the semifinals and routed eighth-seeded Tri-City Christian, 66-21, in the quarterfinals.

But Christian (10-3) played its best when it mattered most. The Patriots eliminated third-seeded Francis Parker, 63-42, in the semifinals after smashing seventh-seeded Horizon Christian, 40-20, in the quarterfinals.

The section title was the eighth for the Patriots in school history.

Colorado-bound quarterback Shane Dillon keyed Christian with 316 passing yards and two touchdowns while also scoring on a one-yard run. 

Jason Gaines (nine catches, 110 yards) scored on a 10-yard pass in the first quarter and Phillip George hauled in an 82-yard effort to put the Patriots ahead, 29-21, in the fourth quarter.

Trent Sauls scored on a 17-yard run in the third quarter. The Patriots’ first points of the game came on a two-point safety in the first quarter.

SFC’s Drew Shields missed wide on a 41-yard field goal as time expired in a last ditch effort to pull out a championship victory.

Dillon set up Powell’s kick with a clutch third-down, 48-yard pass to freshman Seth Collins.

Eastlake’s Gabe Harrington passed for 285 yards with three touchdowns (but was picked twice) for Francis Parker in the semifinal loss while Jesse Brookins, another South Bay standout for the Lancers, rushed 20 times for 108 yards and scored two touchdowns.

Harrington finished the season with 2,191 passing yards and 22 touchdowns while Brookins rushed for 1,659 yards and scored 14 total TDs (13 rushing).

Sideline chatter
This year’s Division II playoff field was absolutely stacked. Thus, when the Hilltop Lancers dropped regular season ballgames to Bonita Vista (14-3 on Oct. 7) and Mar Vista (13-6 on Nov. 4), it proved to be the kiss of death for the two-time South Bay League runners-up.

Bonita Vista (3-6-1) received the No. 11 seed in the playoffs while Scripps Ranch (3-7) earned the final 12th seed.

Hilltop finished 5-5. However, the Lancers’ strength of schedule wasn’t good enough to propel them into the post-season. Season opening losses to University City (42-34 on Sept. 2) and Patrick Henry (10-7 on Sept. 9) proved absolutely disastrous.

Credit Hilltop with not throwing in the towel, as the Lancers battled back to win five of their final seven games, and four of their final five.

Hilltop closed out regular season play with a 35-14 SBL victory at San Ysidro on Nov. 10 as five different players scored touchdowns.

Dustin Downs rushed 15 times for 101 yards and scored on a 21-yard run while Paul Greene caught a 10-yard scoring pass from quarterback Hernandez and also threw a 13-yard touchdown to Sergio Martinez.

Hernandez passed for 108 yards and one touchdown and rushed 13 times for 66 yards, scoring on a one-yard run.

Meanwhile, Ben Bernabe recorded an electrifying 100-yard interception return for a touchdown.


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