Two things have become apparent from the Eastlake Titans’ two latest football games:
1) The Cathedral Catholic Dons and St. Augustine Saints are clearly the cream of the crop among this year’s San Diego Section Division III teams.
2) The Titans have some ground to make up in the Division I standings.
St. Augustine (5-0) handed Eastlake (4-2) its second consecutive loss (following a perfect 4-0 kick-start) on a 37-yard field goal by Seamus McMorrow with 25 seconds to play in last Friday’s non-league gridiron encounter.
Last Friday’s 21-20 loss was especially frustrating for the hosts considering they led 13-0 early in the game and owned a 20-12 advantage in the fourth quarter.
The San Diego Sportswriters Association’s weekly rankings have taken a surprising turn the past two weeks to reach the midpoint of the season. Coupled with defending Division II champion Oceanside’s 10-10 draw at Mission Hills last Friday and Eastlake’s two-game losing streak, the Poway Titans (4-0-1) now have assumed the No. 2 position in the weekly rankings while the San Pasqual Golden Eagles (5-0-1) have moved up to No. 6.
Cathedral Catholic (4-1) enters this week ranked third while St. Augustine is ranked fifth. All teams remain behind No. 1 Helix (4-1) — 49-7 victors over previously undefeated Mt. Miguel in last Friday’s battle for the Claymore Sword.
Eastlake is No. 7 entering this Friday’s Metro-Mesa League opener against visiting Chula Vista (3-2).
Poway and San Pasqual are now the section’s top two-ranked Division I teams, with Eastlake coming in third.
Poway and San Pasqual tied 17-all earlier this season. This obviously leaves the reigning Metro-Mesa champs in an uncomfortable position: In order to grab a home field berth in the Division I playoffs, it appears Eastlake will have to watch and hope that either North County Conference team slips up somewhere along the line.
EHS coach John McFadden must feel his team still has the potential to close out the season with a perfect mark, beginning with Friday’s Metro-Mesa League opener against visiting Chula Vista (3-2).
Jude Isbell (18 carries, 117 yards) scored the opening two touchdowns of the game on rushes of seven and 13 yards to stake Eastlake to a 13-0 lead. The Saints responded with 12 unanswered points — two field goals by McMorrow and a 20-yard scoring pass from Joe Kennedy to Nicholas Gonsalves. But a 69-yard touchdown run by Isiah Olave seemed to turn the momentum back in the hosts’ favor as the Titans took a 20-12 lead.
However, Kennedy, who completed 22 of 34 passing attempts for 268 yards, scored on a one-yard quarterback keeper to bring the Saints back within striking distance at 20-18, and that was all that McMorrow (who earlier booted kicks of 22 and 29 yards) could ask for. Gonsalves caught nine passes for 160 yards while Aaron Anderson led the visitors with 24 carries for 113 yards.
Still, Eastlake had a last-second chance to try to pull out the victory a la last year’s homecoming game fantastic finish against Steele Canyon that saw the Titans complete the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds.
Eastlake moved the ball to the Saints 32-yard line, and quarterback John Palet’s appropriately termed “Hail Mary” pass toward the end zone was batted around before falling incomplete as time expired.
The hosts finished with 327 rushing yards and 402 total offensive yards in the setback.
It is evident there aren’t too many teams in the section this year better than the Titans.
Tavarus Green gained 109 yards in the loss for EHS while Olave had 90 yards on 10 carries.
Palet was six-of-15 for 75 yards. Olave had one catch for 38 yards while Darran Hall had two catches for 18 yards and Isbell made one grab good for 14 yards.
Tyrone Stevens led the Titan defense with 12 tackles while Keifer Graham had 11 tackles, including 10 first hits. Blake Wilson, Gabe Casillas and Elijah Campbell each had one sack while Olave had an interception and also caused a fumble.
Isbell now has rushed for 629 yards on 102 carries while Green has rushed for 225 yards on 33 attempts and Olave has gained 224 yards on 27 carries. As a team, Eastlake has rushed for 1,667 yards in six games and is averaging 6.06 yards per carry and 278 yards per game.
Palet has completed 50 of 95 passing attempts for 725 yards and three touchdowns. Joseph Carpizo leads the team’s receivers 191 receiving yards on eight catches while Travis Gardner has made 13 catches for 173 yards and Hall has eight catches for 122 yards.
Isbell leads the Titans in scoring with five touchdowns while Olave has four and Carpizo has three scores.
Chula Vista is coming off last Friday’s spirited 35-7 non-league victory against visiting Brawley as quarterback Ricky Estevez passed for 179 yards and threw two touchdown passes to Ray Holden while Javante Reed rushed for 103 yards and two scores.
Holden caught six passes for 118 yards, including one for four yards and another for 31 yards, for touchdowns. Reed scored on runs of 14 and 39 yards.
Donovan Mendez had eight carries for 43 yards and scored on a two-yard run in the second quarter.
The Spartans erupted for 28 points in the second quarter en route to posting a 35-0 halftime lead. The Wildcats (3-2) averted the shutout loss with a fourth quarter touchdown.
Defensively, Hui Wolfgram had one fumble recovery while matching teammate Brandon Nealy’s team co-leading 10 tackles.
Metro Conference Playoff Ticker
Eastlake Titans 4-2
Otay Ranch Mustangs 4-2
Chula Vista Spartans 3-2
San Ysidro Cougars 2-3
Sweetwater Red Devils 1-4
Bonita Vista Barons 3-2-1
Hilltop Lancers 1-4
Mar Vista Mariners 4-1
Montgomery Aztecs 4-1
Olympian Eagles 2-3
Southwest Raiders 2-3
Mater Dei Catholic Crusaders 3-2
Castle Park Trojans 1-4
Chuia Vista Calvary Christian Academy 2-4
Kuyper Prep Admirals 4-0
Ocean View Christian Academy 4-1
Luthern Knights 0-3