The summer is about having fun, and that includes high school sports.
While preseason training camps do not officially open until August, there are still plenty of opportunities to get a jump on the upcoming season.
That includes football as well as other sports.
The eighth annual South County Passing Tournament took place July 11-12 at Southwestern College. Thirty-two teams participated, with a great deal of success by local squads.
Castle Park advanced to the winners bracket semifinals while Olympian advanced to the consolation bracket semifinals in their respective divisions.
For added measure, Bonita Vista made it as far as the winners bracket quarterfinals, losing to eventual champion St. Augustine, while Southwest, Otay Ranch and San Ysidro also advanced as far as the consolation quarterfinals.
So far, so good for all of the above named teams.
“It’s an opportunity for competition,” SWC head football coach Ed Carberry explained. “If you’re not a passing team, you can focus on defense. For the offensive guys, it’s about timing. When you get helmets and shoulder pads on, it’s an entirely different game. Here, at least, you can get an idea of who can and can’t catch the ball.”
The 32 teams competed in eight pools of four teams each on the first day of competition, with the second day of competition opening with 16 playoff games based on pool seeding.
The winners and losers then advanced in their own 16-team single-elimination brackets.
St. Augustine defeated Steele Canyon, 33-30, in a hotly contested match-up to claim the winners bracket championship while Mira Mesa defeated Kearny, 31-2, to win the consolation bracket title.
Castle Park dropped a semifinal decision to eventual runner-up Steele Canyon while Olympian dropped a semifinal match-up against Mira Mesa.
“The kids were having fun,” CPHS coach Hans Graham noted. “We have 15 starters coming back — the same bunch of kids from last year. They just figured some things out.”
The passing tournaments should not be confused with preseason scrimmages. Passing tournaments are played without pads or helmets and the intimate seven-on-seven format is designed for quarterbacks and receivers to fine-tune timing patterns, as well as defensive backs to do the same.
Still, Castle Park’s tournament run was impressive. The Trojans defeated a pair of behemoths along the way — Cathedral Catholic and Eastlake — as well as racking up playoff wins against Valhalla and University City.
Castle Park defeated Cathedral Catholic, 34-29, in pool play and eliminated Eastlake in the second round of the playoffs behind signal-caller Jordan Danielson.
Gary Cannon, meanwhile, led Olympian to a perfect 3-0 pool record with victories against Valhalla (16-15), Mira Mesa (34-29) and Southwest (21-12). The Eagles dropped a 34-33 decision to Palo Verde in their first playoff game, then defeated Crawford and Otay Ranch in the knock-out round to draw a rematch with the Marauders.
Olympian finished 5-2 in its seven tournament games.
Bonita Vista finished 2-1 in pool play with victories against Castle Park (15-12) and Palo Verde (49-26) and defeated Crawford, 24-7, in the opening playoff round to advance to the winners bracket. The Barons defeated Palo Verde again in their opening knockout game before drawing the top-seeded Saints in the quarterfinals.
Sophomore quarterback Anthony Posada led Bonita Vista to a 4-2 tournament record.
San Ysidro defeated Montgomery in the playoffs before matching up with eventual consolation champion Mira Mesa while Otay Ranch recorded a knock-out win over Lincoln before ending tournament play with the loss to Olympian.
Southwest defeated Sweetwater in the playoffs to cap a decent showing with a limited number of players.
Sweetwater, the 2013 Division IV champion, finished 2-3 in last weekend’s tournament, including playoffs.
The Red Devils were not able to showcase their vaunted double-wing run-oriented attack, but that wasn’t the point, according to coach Brian Hay.
“This was strictly for our defense,” the SuHi coach said. “Even if you get a little time for improvement, that’s important.”
St. Augustine finished 8-0 to grab top honors in the South County passing tournament for the second consecutive year. Last year, the Saints defeated arch rival Cathedral Catholic in the championship game.
St. Augustine defeated Mission Bay, 49-0, to win last year’s Division I section title.
The Saints appear to have reloaded in fine fashion under full-time varsity quarterback Tommy Goodridge. Sparkplug Elijah Preston is also back.
Preston rushed for 1,481 yards and scored 17 rushing touchdowns last season as a sophomore.
“Last year we had a lot of great seniors but lost 18 to graduation,” St. Augustine head coach Richard Sanchez explained. “I’m optimistic about this year. We’re going to take our lumps early with a very challenging schedule and hope to stay healthy and be there at the end.”
The Saints topped Mater Dei Catholic, Montgomery and Kearny in pool play and then defeated Otay Ranch, Cathedral Catholic, Bonita Vista, Torrey Pines and Steele Canyon in the playoffs.
St. Augustine enters the season ranked 15th nationally by National Sports Report. The Saints kick off the 2014 campaign with a high profile non-league game at Oceanside on Aug. 29 and then play at Madison and Loyola in successive weeks in other top-level contests.
Goodridge appeared in nine games last season behind varsity starter Joe Joe Hudson, who passed for 1,666 yards and 16 touchdowns. Goodridge passed for 188 yards and one score in limited duty in 2013.
“This year we’re handing the ball to Tommy just like we handed the ball last year to Joe Joe,” Sanchez noted.
Cougars on the prowl
Steele Canyon finished 3-8 last season, dropping a high scoring 56-35 quarterfinal-round decision to eventual division champion Mission Hills in the section’s inaugural Open Division playoffs.
The Cougars’ record was somewhat misleading, however, as the Men of Steele dropped six games by margins of three or fewer points, including a 14-13 contest to Grossmont Hills League superpower Helix.
Steele Canyon finished last weekend’s passing tournament with a 6-2 overall record, including pool victories against Palo Verde (46-34) and Bonita Vista (22-14) and ensuing playoff wins over Coronado, Horizon, Christian and Castle Park.
Cougars coach Scott Longerbone praised his team for its tournament showing, especially after taking a late lead in the championship game against St. Augustine before eventually bowing to the Saints in the final minute of play.
“It’s a great bunch of kids to come out in the summer and compete to play a great program like St. Augustine,” Longerbone explained. “But, in the fall, when you get helmets on, it changes everything.”
Dominic Anderson led the Cougars at the quarterback position last weekend.
Longerbone said he expects good things from his team this season.
“It’s a hard-working team, a tight-knit bunch,” the Steele Canyon coach said. “I’ve been looking forward to coaching this group for the past couple years. Up to this point, I have nothing but good things to say about this team.”
The Cougars kick off the 2014 season with a non-league game Aug. 29 at Chula Vista.
The Christian High School Patriots ended the 2013 prep football season with one of those proverbial once in a lifetime experiences, as the small enrollment East County school knocked off a team with five-times the student enrollment to capture the San Diego Section Division III championship title.
While head coach Matt Oliver isn’t predicting a championship repeat at this time, his upcoming 2014 team does look like it should represent itself very well on the gridiron.
The Pats won all their of their pool games at last weekend’s South County Passing Tournament in resounding fashion — defeating, in order, Division IV champion Sweetwater (42-7), Division I mainstay Otay Ranch (42-6) and Division V runner-up Crawford (52-13).
Christian returned to action the next day to defeat Chula Vista, 46-6, in the opening round of the playoffs and then eliminated Horizon Christian in the next round to improve to 5-0 in the tournament.
The Patriots’ run ended with a loss to Steele Canyon in the winners bracket quarterfinals; Steele Canyon went on to defeat Castle Park in the semifinals to draw a championship-round pairing against defending Division I champion St. Augustine.
“What we like about these summer passing tournaments is that it gives our kids a chance to compete, and any time you can compete, it’s a good thing,” Oliver noted. “It helps our passing game. It helps our defensive secondary to work on coverage. But it’s a whole different game 11-on-11 with pads.”
Christian will return to the Division III playoff tier this year to defend its CIF title; however, the placement of smaller schools in upper tier divisions has created controversy in terms of qualification for the state playoffs at a school’s normal student-enrollment level.
Christian has an enrollment of less than 400 students but faced San Marcos, a school with more than 2,000 students, in last year’s Division III finals, winning 19-7. Because the Patriots won the Division III section final, it was ruled they could not to drop down to the Small School Division for the state playoffs.
“We won it last year, so we can’t complain too much about being in it,” said Oliver, whose team kicks off the 2014 season Aug. 29 with a non-league game at San Luis Obispo-Mission Prep. “It was a tremendous year. Last year we had a great senior group. We have some skill kids coming back this year. It will be tougher to win it this year, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
The Patriots have most of their wide-outs returning to provide experienced targets for new quarterback David Jeremiah, who appeared to pass his first big test heading into the preseason.
Jeremiah joined the team as a freshman in 2012 and saw action in five varsity games last year as a sophomore with one touchdown pass.
Four teams have switched leagues to highlight changes in the Grossmont Conference football ranks for the upcoming season.
The Grossmont Valley League now includes El Cajon Valley, Monte Vista, Santana, Granite Hills and West Hills.
The Grossmont Hills League now includes Grossmont, Helix, Steele Canyon, Valhalla, El Capitan and Mt. Miguel.
Chula Vista High School will host an eight-team passing tournament on Saturday, July 19.
Eighth annual South County Passing Tournament
July 11-12 at Southwestern College
July 11: pool play, 32 teams, eight four0team pools
July 12: Top eight teams vs. bottom eight teams, 9 a.m. Middle teams play-off, 10 a.m. Play continues in winners brackerts and losers brackets the rest of the day
POOL ROUND STANDINGS
University City Centurions 3-0
San Ysidro Cougars 2-1
Lincoln Hornets 1-2
Cougars 10, Spartans 0
Centurions 29, Hornets 11
Centurions 21, Cougars 8
Hornets 30, Spartans 22
Cougars 25, Hornet 19
Centurions 36, Spartans 33
Mt. Miguel Matadors 3-0
Torrey Pines Falcons 2-1
Horizon Panthers 1-2
Eastlake Titans 0-3
Falcons 26, Titans 20
Matadors 38, Panthers 33
Matadors 47, Falcons 39
Panthers 35, Titans 26
Falcons 35, Panthers 14
Matadors 28, Titans 2
Bonita Vista Barons 2-1
Morse Tigers 2-1
Steele Canyon Cougars 2-1
Palo Verde Yellow Jackets 0-3
Cougars 46, Yellow Jackets 34
Barons 15, Tigers 12
Cougars 22, Barons 14
Tigers 40, Yellow Jackets 26
Tigers 28, Cougars 25
Barons 49, Yellow Jackets 26
Monte Vista Monarchs 3-0
Hilltop Lancers 2-1
Coronado Islanders 1-2
Rock Academy Warriors 0-3
Monarchs 23, Islanders 9
Lancers 39, Warriors 6
Lancers 35, Islanders 7
Monarchs 32, Warriors 2
Monarchs 28, Lancers 22
Islanders 19, Warriors 8
Olympian Eagles 3-0
Mira Mesa Marauders 2-1
Valhalla Norsemen 1-2
Southwest Raiders 0-3
Eagles 16, Norsemen 15
Marauders 21, Raiders 16
Norsemen 23, Raiders 13
Eagles 34, Marauders 29
Marauders 15, Norsemen 6
Eagles 21, Raiders 12
Murrieta Mesa Rams 1-0-2
Cathedral Catholic Dons 1-1-1
Chula Vista Spartans 1-1-1
Castle Park Trojans 1-2
Dons 33, Rams 33
Spartans 36, Trojans 31
Trojans 34, Dons 29
Spartans 33, Rams 33
Dons 53, Spartans 12
Rams 31, Trojans 23
St. Augustine Saints 3-0
Kearny Komets 2-1
Mater Dei Catholic Crusaders 1-2
Montgomery Aztecs 0-3
Saints 33, Crusaders 15
Komets 13, Aztecs 2
Komets 18, Crusaders 13
Saints 27, Aztecs 0
Crusaders 20, Aztecs 18
Saints 36, Komets 12
Christian Patriots 3-0
Sweetwater Red Devils 2-1
Crawford Colts 1-2
Otay Ranch Mustangs 0-3
Patriots 42, Red Devils 7
Colts 25, Mustangs 15
Red Devils 10, Colts 4
Patriots 42, Mustangs 6
Red Devils 8, Mustangs 4
Patriots 52, Colts 13
Saturday, July 12
9 a.m. games
Steele Canyon 29, Coronado 13
Morse 24, San Ysidro 2
Bonita Vista 24, Crawford 7
Castle Park 28, Valhalla 22
Mater Dei Catholic 16, Sweetwater 12
Cathedral Catholic 26, Lincoln 20
Murrieta Mesa 35, Mira Mesa 26 Horizon defeated Chula Vista (varsity)
10 a.m. games
Christian 46, Chula Vista (JV) 6
Mt. Miguel 44, Rock Academy 23
St. Augustine 40, Otay Ranch 14
University City 23, Southwest 4
Eastlake 21, Monte Vista 19
Palo Verde 34, Olympian 33
Torrey Pines 37, Montgomery 16
Hilltop 21, Kearny 14
11 a.m. games
Christian defeated Horizon
Steele Canyon defeated Hilltop
Castle Park defeated Eastlake
University City defeated Mater Dei Catholic
Bonita Vista defeated Palo Verde
St. Augustine defeated Cathedral Catholic
Torrey Pines defeated Morse
Mt. Miguel defeated Murrieta Mesa
Steele Canyon defeated Christian
Castle Park defeated University City
St. Augustine defeated Bonita Vista
Torrey Pines defeated Mt. Miguel
Steele Canyon defeated Castle Park
St. Augustine defeated Torrey Pines
St. Augustine 33, Steele Canyon 30
11 a.m. games
Kearny defeated Chula Vista (JV)
Coronado defeated Chula Vista (varsity)
Valhalla defeated Monte Vista
Southwest defeated Sweetwater
Olympian defeated Crawford
Otay Ranch defeated Lincoln
San Ysidro defeated Montgomery
Mira Mesa defeated Rock Academy
Kearny defeated Coronado
Valhalla defeated Southwest
Olympian defeated Otay Ranch
Mira Mesa defeated San Ysidro
Kearny defeated Valhalla
Mira Mesa defeated Olympian
Mira Mesa 31, Kearny 2