Highlanders, Eagles flying high

Granite Hills’ Colin Riley (3) pushes aside an Eastlake defender for extra yardage in last Friday’s 38-9 non-league victory.

There’s been a reshuffling of teams at the top of the San Diego Section football rankings after some dramatic finishes over the past two weeks, Helix Charter’s tenuous 14-13 nonleague loss to No. 1 Cathedral Catholic last Friday included. The loss was the first of the season for the Highlanders (3- 1) while the Dons evened their record at 2-2 in a potential early season preview of November’s Open Division playoffs. If so, don’t count out the Scotties from making the section’s elite Final Four playoffs. Entering this week’s spate of games, Cathedral Catholic is ranked No. 1 among the section’s 84 11-man football teams, followed by No. 2 Lincoln (3- 1), No. 3 Madison (4-0), No. 4 Carlsbad (2-1) and No. 5 Helix. Poway (4-0) holds down the No. 6 spot, followed by No. 7 Mater Dei Catholic (0-4), No. 8 Mira Mesa (2-1), No. 9 Ramona (2-2) and No. 10 Granite Hills (3-1). Granite Hills is ranked third among the section’s Division II teams, trailing No. 1 Mira Mesa (2-1) and No. 2 Ramona (2-2) The Eagles took flight up the section standings after scoring their third consecutive win on the season, 38-9, at Eastlake last Friday amid inclement weather. Granite Hills kicked off the 2022 pigskin campaign with a 31-19 non-league loss at Poway on Aug. 19 before righting their ship with commanding victories against Valhalla (59-6 on Aug. 26) and Oceanside (28-0 on Sept. 2) and now Eastlake. By the numbers Helix’s loss to the Dons assures that no East County team will finish undefeated this season. Both the Highlanders and Granite Hills are 3-1 and co-own the region’s top regular season record thus far. El Capitan, Christian, Mt. Miguel and West Hills are all 2-2 while Monte Vista, El Cajon Valley and Steele Canyon are 1-3. Santana, Valhalla and Grossmont are all still searching for their first wins of the season. Soaring Eagles Granite Hills remained undefeated for the third week in a row while keeping host Eastlake without a win for the fourth consecutive week. The Eagles took a 14-0 lead on touchdowns by sophomore Isaiah Jackson (one-yard run) and senior captain Easton Peterson (55-yard fumble return) barely five minutes into the game and pulled away from there. Senior Royce Harper recovered a bad snap on an Eastlake punt attempt to set up the visitors’ opening touchdown; a fumble on the Titans’ second punt attempt bounced into the arms of Peterson, who raced the rest of the way behind a convoy of blockers. Granite Hills led, 21-2, at halftime. Granite Hills relied on reserve signal-caller Parlan Sanders with fellow senior starter Nico Tomasello ruled out of the game. Sanders completed 12 of 15 passing attempts for 144 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Sanders connected with senior Colin Riley on a 17-yard scoring pass to account for the Eagles’ third touchdown. Riley caught three passes for 56 yards while senior Davion Green had three catches for 52 yards. Sophomore Maxwell Turner (10 carries, 95 yards) scored Granite Hills’ fourth touchdown in the game on a 22-yard run. Junior Robert Petrich booted a 47-yard field goal in the third quarter to extend the Eagle’ lead to 31-2. Eastlake (0-4) scored its lone touchdown of the game on a one-yard run by junior Luke Schwenke to make the score 31-9. But Sanders (four carries, 29 yards) closed out scoring in the fourth quarter with a 19-yard touchdown run. The Titans had gotten on the scoreboard on the wet night in the second quarter when a Granite Hills punt attempt rolled out of the end zone for a two-point safety. The Eagles have outscored their last three opponents 126- 15. “The defense is really playing well,” Granite Hills head coach Kellen Cobbs underscored. “Any time you score on defense or special teams, you’re going to have a good chance of winning the game and we have been able to do that the past three games. Our offensive line has done a great job for our running backs and all three of the backs – Zak Darling, Pablo Jackson and Max Turner – are playing well.” The Eagles racked up 361 total yards in their latest victory, including 218 rushing yards. Darling rushed six times for 47 yards while Jackson had nine carries for 34 yards. Sanders led the visitors with 177 total yards. Senior Derek Ibarra keyed Granite Hills with 10 tackles. Ibarra was one of four Eagles to register a sack, joining senior Brayden Becker, junior Moshi Tileia and sophomore Cuba Polak. Senior Joaquin Thomas Jr. was credited with two interceptions for 87 yards. Granite Hills hosts Central Union (2-1) in a key Division II clash this Friday. The Spartans are ranked right behind the Eagles at No. 4 in the division.

Highlanders, Eagles flying high

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