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Metro-Mesa League openers offer intriguing football matchups Phillip Brents | Fri, Oct 06 2017 03:26 PM

It figures to be a hard-fought battle for this year’s Metro-Mesa League championship title. The Eastlake Titans (5-1), Olympian Eagles (3-3) and Otay Ranch Mustangs (3-3) appear to be the three front-runners at the midpoint of the season.

But the Mater Dei Catholic Crusaders (2-3) and Bonita Vista Barons (0-6) are both waiting in the wings to produce the upset of the season.

As always, the slate is wiped clean for the start of league play.

The Metro-Mesa League banner chase should be a doozy this year. One might ask out loud: Is there a clear favorite this year?

Certainly, the teams that win on Friday will be undefeated in league play — at least for one week.

Eastlake (0-0, 5-1) at  Otay Ranch (0-0, 3-3)
The Titans enter Friday’s league opener ranked 10th among San Diego Section teams for the second consecutive week. It wasn’t too difficult to size up the team’s winning formula in last week’s 35-0 non-league victory against visiting Chula Vista.

Eastlake limited Chula Vista to just 48 total offensive yards, including just 26 rushing yards, while generating 286 total yards in offense, including 192 rushing yards.

Yet the game remained close — 7-0 at halftime — thanks to a stalwart defense effort by the Spartans, who saw their three-game winning streak snapped in the loss to the Titans. Ubaldo Nolasco and Victor Agraz combined for four sacks for the visitors.

“Chula Vista played tough against us and we knew they would,” EHS head coach Dean Tropp said. “Coach (Howard) Bannister is doing a great job over there.  We had a few guys injured on the offensive line and guys stepped up.  We made adjustments at halftime and we played well and put points on the scoreboard.”  

Roman Coe led Eastlake with 109 rushing yards on 15 carries. He scored three of the team’s five rushing touchdowns, including one on a 31-yard burst. Ryshon Moody (seven carries, 59 yards) and Micah Pietila-Wiggs (three carries, one yard) also reached the end zone on the ground.

Moody and Daniel Amon combined for 94 passing yards. Pietila-Wiggs had two catches for 49 yards, including one that measured 41 yards.

On the season, Coe leads the Titans with 406 rushing yards, followed by Parker Merrifield with 373 yards and McCoy with 228 yards. Amon has thrown for 592 yards. Jalyn Jackson (10 catches, 267 yards) and Pietila-Wiggs (14 catches, 207 yards) are the team’s top receivers.

Pietila-Wiggs tops Eastlake in scoring with eight touchdowns — five rushing and three receiving.

Now, for the Titan defense. Christian Coronado and Richard Corpus each recorded sacks while A.J. Hernandez had one interception. Rayshawn Parks-Price had one fumble recovery while Jackson and Robby Hughes each caused fumbles.
Pietila-Wiggs had four punts for a 39.3-yard average, including one for 60 years. He deposited two punts inside the CV 20-yard line.

Josh McCurty leads the EHS defense with 89 tackles on the season. He had 14 in the win over the Spartans.

Other defensive leaders include Corpus with six sacks and Pietila-Wiggs with four interceptions.

Key stat: Eastlake has scored 73 points in its last two games and 105 points in its last three games.

Otay Ranch snapped a two-game losing streak with last Friday’s 21-7 non-league victory at Valhalla. The Mustangs presented a balanced attack with 190 rushing yards and 165 passing yards.

Otay Ranch head coach Lance Christensen said the win over Valhalla was important to give his team momentum heading into its league opener.

“Eastlake is a very good football team, so we anticipate a very challenging and competitive game,” he said.

Gus Espiritu (15 carries, 105 yards) and Sammy Paranada (six carries, 33 yards) each scored on touchdown runs. Juka Stewart completed 13 of 21 passes with one touchdown and one interception. Darian Williams had two catches for 72 yards, including one TD.

Espiritu broke off a 47-yard run while Williams had a 37-yard catch.

On the season, Espiritu leads Otay Ranch with 458 rushing yards, followed by Alfredo Garcia with 415 yards and Paranada with 227 yards. Paranada has scored six rushing touchdowns.

Stewart has thrown for 388 yards with five touchdowns against one interception. Top receivers for the Mustangs include Zeek Cruz (12 catches, 222 yards), Williams (eight catches, 146 yards) and Josh Lira (six catches, 138 yards). Cruz leads the bunch with three TDs.

Bonita Vista (0-0, 0-6) at Olympian (0-0, 3-3)
Both teams are coming off lopsided losses to traditional San Diego Section powerhouse teams. In non-league games last Friday, third-ranked Helix shut out Bonita Vista, 65-0, while Cathedral Catholic turned a close game at halftime into an eventual 28-3 victory over Olympian.

Bonita Vista enters Friday’s league opener mired in a six-game losing streak while Olympian has dropped its last two games.

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Olympian turned in a stellar defensive effort in holding a 3-0 halftime lead over the powerful Dons last week.
However, Cathedral Catholic — unranked among section teams for the first time in a long while — turned up the defensive pressure and began generating points in the second half.

The Eagles started off the season 3-1 but successive losses to Point Loma (38-28 on Sept. 22) and Cathedral Catholic have leveled the team’s record.

Olympian head coach Paul Van Nostrand emphasized his team must get off to a winning start in league play.

“We have three losses to quality opponents but that doesn’t mean we are satisfied,” he said.

Erik Duarte booted a 36-yard field goal to give the Eagles their early edge over the Dons.

Ryan Kilpatrick scored on a 14-yard run and then used a 67-yard breakaway run to set up an 18-yard score as Kilpatrick staked the visitors to a 14-3 lead. Caleb Price then passed 32 yards to Colin Myers to set up a one-yard score. Peyton Rezanka blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown to round out scoring in the game. Kilpatrick finished the game with 151 rushing yards.

Olympian generated 141 passing yards but managed just 44 rushing yards against the Cathedral Catholic defense. Dante Pressley and Rock Gonzalez each had sacks for the Eagles while Mikkel Tyler had a fumble recovery.

On the season, senior Nico Mendoza has passed for 1,130 yards with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. Leading receivers include senior Isaiah Williams (39 catches, 478 yards) with six touchdowns and Tyler (11 catches, 144 yards) with three touchdowns.

Six Eagles have scored rushing touchdowns, led by Treyvion Davies (55 carries, 299 yards) with four, R.T. Brown (31 carries, 242 yards) with three and David Tirey (43 carries, 338 yards) with two.

Tirey is averaging 113.3 all-purpose yards per game while Brown is averaging 106.0 all-purpose yards per game. Mendoza is averaging 188.3 passing yards per game.

Olympian has recorded 14 sacks in six games, led by Gonzalez with nine. Tyler has two interceptions and two fumble recoveries to his credit on the defensive ledger.

Bonita Vista suffered its most lopsided loss of the season last Friday. Helix used four interceptions, including two pick six returns, to gain a sizable early advantage in the non-league contest. The Highlanders also made a fumble recovery in the game.

The Barons, who may own one of the section’s most challenging schedules, have been outscored 291-34 in six games. Three losses have come against teams entrenched in the top 10 weekly rankings.



Hilltop piles up points, holds off Escondido 26-23
The Hilltop Lancers evened their record at 3-3 following a somewhat harrowing 26-23 non-league win at Escondido last Friday. It was the second consecutive victory for the Lancers after fighting through a three-game losing streak.

Escondido fell to 2-4 on the season. Both teams now have fewer games remaining on their respective schedules than they have played. Each future game will now weigh heavily on the postseason prospects for each squad as both teams are vying for berths in the upcoming Division III playoffs.

Southwest El Centro leads the division with a 5-0 record while San Pasqual, Mar Vista and Rancho Buena Vista are all 4-2.

“We came out of the gate great but we have to do a much better job of finishing,” Hilltop head coach Andrew Westling said. “Almost losing a game like that falls directly on the head coach. Thankfully, we get to learn from it after a win.”

Hilltop shot out to a 13-0 halftime lead and would go on to build a 26-7 advantage by the end of the third quarter.
However, the host Cougars began a fourth quarter rally that would see them score 16 points on a pair of touchdowns and two-point conversions to just fall short.

Jeremiah Rivera put the Lancers on the scoreboard first with a two-yard touchdown run. Daniel McPherren then scored on a six-yard run following an 18-yard pitch to teammate Dylan McCoy to boost Hilltop to a 13-0 lead.
McPherren then scored on a four-yard run to make the score 19-0.

The hosts scored on a short pass from quarterback Robbie Ramos Jr. to Quinton Gaudet to trim the Lancer lead to 19-7.

A fumble recovery by David Corona helped set up Hilltop’s fourth touchdown in the game scored on a meandering run by Rivera.

Ramos Jr. got his team going in the final stages of the contest. He threw a 23-yard touchdown to Wesley Huizar and an 80-yard bomb to Victor Seneres to make it a three-point game. An interception by Shawn Moskowitz helped set up Huizar’s touchdown.

Hilltop returns to play Oct. 13 by hosting the Granite Hills Eagles in its homecoming game at Southwestern College.

Raiders top Bulldogs for second consecutive win

Southwest claimed its second win in a row by defeating the visiting Calexico Bulldogs, 27-21, in a non-league game last Friday. The Raiders (2-4) scored four rushing touchdowns, highlighted by three rushing scores from senior Leonard Hoar.

Hoar rushed 24 times for 173 yards. Senior teammate Joshua Sanchez rushed 14 times for 116 yards and scored one touchdown.

As a team, the Raiders rushed for 336 yards. Southwest also received an additional 68 passing yards from senior quarterback David Espinoza to finish the game with 404 yards in total offense.

The scoring in the game went back-and-forth until Hoar’s 13-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter put the hosts on top to stay.

Hoar opened scoring in the game by rushing for a 13-yard touchdown. Sanchez scored on a two-yard run to give Southwest a 14-13 lead.

Calexico quarterback Jorge Villalobos tied the game, 21-21, on a 25-yard run in the fourth quarter. He finished the game by rushing for one touchdown and throwing for two scores.

The Raiders came up with some timely defense to drop the Bulldogs to 1-4 on the season. Senior Joe Young had one interception while sophomore Jovan Young caused three fumbles.

Sanchez leads Southwest in scoring this season with six touchdowns. He is averaging 156.7 all-purpose yards per game (98.8 rushing yards per game). Hoar is averaging 94.5 rushing yards per game.

The Raiders enter a bye week before engaging in their annual Battle for the Bell rivalry game at Mar Vista on Oct. 13.

Montgomery dominates Calipatria for 48-6 win

Six different players scored touchdowns for Montgomery in last Friday’s 48-6 non-league win over visiting Calipatria.
The Aztecs (3-3) scored seven touchdowns overall in snapping a two-game losing streak. Rahien Williams led the hosts with two touchdowns — one on a 44-yard reverse and another on a 50-yard interception return.

The Aztecs led 7-0 after the first quarter but tacked on 20 points in the second quarter to lead 27-0 at halftime. Montgomery, which dominated every phase of the game, extended its lead to 34-0 through three quarters.

The Aztecs scored four rushing touchdowns — one each by David Vargas (10 carries, 126 yards), Hunter Joseph (12 carries, 68 yards), Williams (two carries, 45 yards) and Daniel Betain-Torres (three carries, 38 yards). Vargas scored on a 69-yard run while Torres scored on a 30-yard run.

The Montgomery defense was very active with four sacks — three by JoJo Simmons and one by Joshua Diddon —an interception by Williams and two blocked punts. Simmons and Devin Patterson both scored on fumble returns to highlight the defense’s contribution to the team victory.

Montgomery resumes play with a non-league game Oct. 13 at Francis Parker, which recorded its first win of the season last Friday,  17-14, at San Ysidro (3-3).


Mariners score timely 34-28 win over Sultans, move up Division III section football standings
Mar Vista saw a 26-14 lead nearly evaporate before holding on to post a key 34-28 non-legue victory against the visiting Santana Sultans last Friday.

“It was a big win for us for playoff seeding since it was a Division III opponent,” said MVHS head coach Tyler Arciaga, whose team improved to 4-2 on the season. “Our kids played hard and we had some big plays made by guys who are typically backups. 

“We had two kick-off recoveries, one each by senior defensive back John Michael Ceballos and junior lineman Damon Thomas. Also, our punt team (punters Jake Borst and Cesar Macias) did a nice job pinning them inside their 20-yard line three different times.”

Junior Sebastian Burke (266 all-purpose yards) keyed the Mariners offensively with three touchdowns (two rushing, one passing) while Marcelino Maclang and Marcus Ramirez each scored one rushing touchdown.

Senior quarterback Jacob Beck passed for 207 yards and a touchdown. Arciaga, a former signal-caller at UNLV, said he remains impressed by Beck’s progress. “His command of the offense and ability to put the ball where it needs to be only continues to improve,” the MVHS coach said. 

Mar Vista returns to the gridiron Oct. 13 against visiting Southwest in the schools’ annual Battle for the Bell rivalry game. “The bye week comes at a great time so we can heal up for the bell game and go into league play,” the MVHS coach said.


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In other games last Friday:


Oceanside 35, Mater Dei Catholic 17

Crusader quarterback Cameron Smith threw a pair of touchdown passes — a 47-yard scoring pass to Nick Lopez and an 11-yard scoring pass to Rayshawn Holscher — but the offensive display wasn’t enough as host Mater Dei Catholic (2-3) absorbed the non-league loss.

The Pirates (2-3) broke out to an early 14-0 lead on a pair of big plays — a 43-yard touchdown run on the team’s first offensive play of the game by Mikah Linnan and an ensuing 34-yard run by Armand Fesili.

Oceanside led 14-3 at halftime but put opened up some space with a 28-10 lead through three quarters. 

The Crusaders next play at Castle Park (0-6) on Friday. 

The Trojans are coming off a 39-0 shutout loss at San Pasqual last Friday.


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