It’s hard to believe the high school football season is halfway over — the regular season portion of it, anyway.
At this point in the season, the San Diego Section’s monster teams should have separated themselves from the pack, as well as those teams with legitimate playoff aspirations.
The usual suspects — Oceanside, La Costa Canyon, Cathedral Catholic, Helix, Mission Hills and Poway — once again appear to be the teams to beat in their respective enrollment divisions this season.
Then there’s a second tier of teams with aspirations of playing any of the above in divisional championship games. That group — and it’s a strong one — includes four teams from the Metro Conference along with the St. Augustine Saints, who also draw from the South County region.
Both the Otay Ranch Mustangs and Olympian Eagles currently sport unbeaten 5-0 records. St. Augustine is 4-1, with its only loss so far to Otay Ranch; the Eastlake Titans are 3-2 with losses to Helix and St. Augustine.
Chula Vista, which likely fits in there somewhere, is 4-1. The Spartans are coming off their first loss of the season last Friday, 26-21, at Brawley.
The Saints play in the same league with Cathedral Catholic.
Eastlake, Olympian, Otay Ranch and Chula Vista are all grouped together (along with the Bonita Vista Barons) in the Metro-Mesa League, which kicks off league play this Friday.
In what order that talented South County contingent will finish remains to be seen.
The next five weeks should be exciting as the schedule leads up to the playoffs.
Otay Ranch overcame a 10-0 deficit last Friday in turning back visiting Castle Park, 34-10, with 34 unanswered points.
Anthony Williams scored three touchdowns to lead the Mustangs’ comeback while D.D. Cunningham and Chris Martin each scored once and Andres Burgoin tacked on four extra-point conversions. QB Kyle Hawkins passed for 152 yards but was intercepted twice.
Martin, who had four catches for 120 yards, has to be considered a strong candidate for Metro-Mesa Offensive Player of the Year honors. That might hinge on whether the Mustangs come away with the league banner.
The Otay Ranch defense limited the Trojans to 46 passing yards and 33 rushing yards. The Mustangs host Bonita Vista, a strong passing team, this week to kick off league action.
Olympian, meanwhile, has put up some impressive numbers against some very respectable teams such as Point Loma (38-10 win), El Camino (40-20 win) and Lincoln (21-14 win).
The Eagles continue to soar after drubbing host Sweetwater, 56-14, last Friday. Olympian led 42-0 at halftime and 56-7 through three quarters.
Christopher Humphrey completed all seven passes he attempted for 200 yards and four touchdowns — two to standout Sergio Bailey (three catches, 78 yards) and one each to Isaiah Gibson and twin brother Christein Humphrey (three catches, 79 yards).
The Eagles racked up 278 rushing yards. Gibson led the way with 98 yards on just two carries, including an 81-yard bolt from the line of scrimmage.
Gibson led the visitors with three touchdowns. He also caught a 43-yard scoring pass, returned a kick-off 86 yards and had an interception on defense.
Olympian, last year’s Division III runner-up, next has a date at El Capitan in a key intra-divisional contest.
Clash of the Titans
Chula Vista and Eastlake will battle in a high stakes match-up, with both league and divisional fortunes on tap. The winner will go one up on the other in the league standings; both teams are also in Division I, with key seeding points on the line.
Both teams are coming off losses — in Chula Vista’s case, its first of the year.
Eastlake started off well against St. Augustine, with touchdowns by Aaron Baltazar (44-yard run) and Isaiah Strayhorn (14-yard run) staking the Titans to a 14-7 lead. But an inspired Saints team, playing for a deceased schoolmate and braced by a back-up quarterback stepping it up to the next level, exploded for five unanswered touchdowns to turn the game into a stunning rout.
Eastlake’s Sebasitan Ocampo (15-yard pass reception) and Strayhorn (66-yard run) closed out the game with fourth quarter TDs to make the final score somewhat respectable.
Sophomore Thomas Goodridge passed for 162 yards and four touchdowns to buoy the Saints. Freshman Elijah Preston paced St. Augustine with 119 rushing yards.
Chula Vista tasted defeat for the first time this season after coughing up a 21-14 lead in the desert heat as the host Wildcats scored twice in the fourth quarter.
Brawley amassed 387 rushing yards against just 36 passing yards. Bryce Alexander led the Wildcats with 111 yards on seven carries and two TDs.
Jevante Reed led the visiting Spartans with 114 yards on 22 carries. He scored twice. CV signal-caller Ricky Estevez passed for 101 yards and one score to Ray Holden.
For the season, Reed has rushed for 847 yards and has scored 11 touchdowns (10 rushing). He’s averaging 169.4 rushing yards per game and 8.3 yards per carry.
Duel in the desert
San Ysidro won its third game in five starts by defeating host Borrego Springs, 42-0, last Friday. Six SY players scored touchdowns: Trey Harris, Lonnie Hester, Esteban Espinoza, David Diaz, Gilbert Suarez and Michael Thomas. Diaz passed for one score (to Suarez) while Harris returned a punt and Rodolfo Gonzalez converted six PAT attempts. The Cougars rolled up 311 rushing yards.
Mar Vista (2-3) snapped a two-game losing streak by virtue of its 33-13 non-league victory at Santana last Friday. The Mariners went back to what they do best: running the ball behind the Beef Train as they flattened the Sultans with 497 rushing yards.
Landon Clark had nine rushes for 154 yards while Jimmie Hill gained 92 yards on 13 carries, Kenny Nieves had 10 carries for 82 yards and Keevin Moore rushed 10 times for 72 yards.
Mar Vista will next host Montgomery (1-4), which dropped a 35-31 heartbreaker to the surprising Calexico Bulldogs (5-0) last week.
The Aztecs lost despite racking up 311 rushing yards, including 146 by Charles Williams (two touchdowns) and 100 by Aust’n Morga.
Friday’s game at MVHS is a rematch of last year’s first round Division III playoff game, won 19-7 by the Mariners.
Eight teams at 5-0: Army-Navy Academy, Calexico, Grossmont, Hoover, Olympian, Otay Ranch, Patrick Henry, West Hills. Twelve teams at 4-1. Five teams at 3-1. Twenty-two teams at 3-2
PREP FOOTBALL SCOREBOARD
Thursday, Sept. 27
Ocean View Christian Academy 30, Milken (Los Angeles) 30
Friday, Sept. 28
Otay Ranch 34, Castle Park 10
Olympian 56, Sweetwater 14
Hilltop 35, Bonita Vista 28 (OT)
Mar Vista 33, Santana 13
San Ysidro 42, Borrego Springs 0
Chula Vista Calvary Christian Academy 44, Calvin Christian 7
St. Augustine 42, Eastlake 28
Brawley 26, Chula Vista 21
Calexico 35, Montgomery 31
La Jolla Country Day 45, Southwest 0
Friday, Oct. 5
Castle Park at Hilltop
Olympian at El Capitan, 7 p.m.
Montgomery at Mar Vista, 7 p.m.
San Ysidro at Mater Dei Catholic, 7 p.m.
Sweetwater at Southwest, 7 p.m.
Chula Vista Calvary Christian Academy at Holtville, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 28
St. Joseph Academy 86, Lutheran 32
Friday, Oct. 5
Eastlake at Chula Vista, 7 p.m.
Bonita Vista at Otay Ranch, 7 p.m.
PREP FOOTBALL RANKINGS
San Diego Section Rankings
SD Sportswriters/Sportscasters Poll
1. Oceanside (4-1)
2. La Costa Canyon (4-1)
3. Helix (3-1)
4. Cathedral Catholic (3-2)
5. Mission Hills (3-2)
6. Poway (3-2)
7. Olympian (5-0)
8. St. Augustine (4-1)
9. Otay Ranch (5-0)
10. Grossmont (5-0)
Others: 11. Eastlake (3-2), 12. West Hills (5-0), 13. Valley Center (3-2), 14. Chula Vista (4-1), 15. Torrey Pines (3-2), 16. Madison (4-1), 17. (tie) Hoover (5-0), San Pasqual (3-2)
On the bubble: Ramona (4-1), Escondido (3-2), Vista (2-3), Carlsbad (3-2), Westview (4-1), San Marcos (3-2), Brawley (4-1), Valhalla (3-2), Mira Mesa (1-4), Lincoln (3-2), Point Loma (3-2), Imperial (4-1), El Camino (3-2)
Prep football Playoff Ticker
Division I: Otay Ranch 5-0, Chula Vista 4-1, Eastlake 3-2
Division II: San Ysidro 3-2, Bonita Vista 2-3, Hilltop 1-4, Sweetwater 0-5
Division III: Olympian 5-0, Southwest 2-3, Castle Park 1-4, Montgomery 1-4
Division IV: Mater Dei Catholic 2-2, Mar Vista 2-3
Division V: Chula Vista Calvary Christian Academy 4-1
8-Man: Ocean View Christian Academy 2-2-1, Lutheran 1-4