Thursday, March 11, 2021

Prep Football Games to Watch: Week Zero

Game of the Week
#5 St. Augustine Saints @ #1 Helix Highlanders

Opening week of a long awaited season will feature what could be an early game of the year contender. The Saints begin their all-road slate where their previous season ended, when they travel to La Mesa to take on the top ranked Highlanders in a much anticipated rematch from their thrilling 2019 Open Division playoff matchup, where Helix pulled off a 12-7 win.

Christian Washington had a breakout sophomore season for Helix in 2019, where he rushed for over 1,110 yards and 15 touchdowns after stepping up for an injured Elelyon Noa. He'll be getting key blocks in the run game from a senior-heavy offensive line led by Shawn Martinez, who earned Grossmont–Hills League Offensive Player of the Year as a junior lineman. Freshman Ryland Jessee is expected to get the starting nod at quarterback. He'll have a young but talented receiving group that features junior speedster Darias James, who can also be a serious threat in the return game. Sophomore athlete Jaylen Hall could have a breakout year as a rusher and receiver.

Jerry Riggins will lead a strong group of senior linebackers that includes Domonick Schoop and Julius Letuliagasenoa, while strong safety Andre Salcido makes his triumphant return from an injury that cut his 2019 season short. The addition of San Diego State signee Josh Simmons gives the Highlanders another impact lineman on both sides of the ball, but he prefers to play on the defensive side where he'll be lined up next to Martinez and Blaze Zito.

Senior quarterback Richard Colmenero III will lead the Saints offense after a solid debut with the team in 2019. One of his key targets will be sophomore DJ Overstreet, who is also a ball hawk in the defensive secondary. Colmenero should be well protected by an offensive line that is loaded with players listed among the top in the county. They return senior guards TangiTangi Pongia and Gino Campagna, as well as junior tackles Adan Luna and Misael Sandoval. The Saints also added Luke Bolin from San Marcos, who can get it done as a center and tackle. Junior Isaiah Pressley is expected to take over as the new primary running back. Malcolm Williams could share some carries with Pressley, but the middle linebacker position is where he does the most damage. Jake Bolin, brother of Luke, can add some fire power to the unit as an outside linebacker and edge rusher.

Perennial playmaker Gracen Halton will lead the Saints defensive line coming off an outstanding sophomore season. He'll get assistance from senior nose tackle Christian Gaeta.


Rivalry Game of the Week
Torrey Pines Falcons @ #4 Cathedral Catholic Dons

Another top season-opening contest will be the first gridiron battle for supremacy of Del Mar Heights Road since the 2018 Open Division Championship game, where the Dons rallied to a 28-17 victory.

Senior center Luke Simsiman will be snapping the ball to a new quarterback. The Falcons offense will also feature Boise State signee Matthew Lauter at tight end. On defense, Simsiman will hold down the front seven with senior outside linebacker Marco Notarainni. Reigning Avocado League interception leader Mo Vanderwielin will return to the secondary alongside junior cornerback Wyatt Gardner.

Pro-Style quarterback Charlie Mirer will be looking to receivers Colman Smith and Rex Haynes to get the Dons passing game going. Senior Christian Hall and junior Lucky Sutton will deliver one of the best one-two punch rushing attacks in the county. Senior defensive backs Malachi William and Dee’Shon Swafford will give opposing passing offenses a hard time, while Jaxson Moi anchors a loaded defensive line that also includes the high motor of senior edge rusher Justin Sabbatini.

Best of the Rest

La Costa Canyon Mavericks @ San Marcos Knights

Avocado League play begins with two of the top North County programs looking to put themselves in early contention for the title and amongst the best in the section. LCC holds a 6-2 lead in the series. Tre Bradford can make plays on both sides of the ball for the Knights. Mavericks quarterback Parks Odenweller can get loose in the open field, and so can senior running back Syrus Chaloux. They'll have big man Jude Steffen leading the way for the offensive line.

Granite Hills Eagles @ Valhalla Norsemen

Longtime El Cajon rivals get set for a Saturday contest where Valhalla will be looking to earn its first win over the Eagles since 2016. Senior quarterback Justus McComb will lead the Granite Hills offense, while Oregon State bound Joseph Holt will be the player to watch for on the defensive line. The Norsemen will be led by versatile senior lineman Allen Kalasho.

Steele Canyon Cougars @ El Capitan Vaqueros

Coming off a 9-2 season that ended in disappointing fashion, the rebuilding Cougars travel to Lakeside to take on an El Cap program looking to bounce back from their 1-9 outing. Steele Canyon leads the all-time series 7-3, while the Vaqueros will try to pull off their first win over the Cougars since 2014. As a junior, Elia Kirisimasi started the final three games for Steele Canyon and had a solid run. He will look to keep the momentum going along with sophomore Major Givens, who will take over as the primary running back. 

Mira Mesa Marauders @ Scripps Ranch Falcons

Coming off a 12-1 season, the defending City League champion Falcons will kickoff a new campaign at home against their arch rivals. Mira Mesa two-way athlete Elijah Waldon will lead a loaded group of young talent, while standouts Nicholas Gardinera and Ethan Nicholas hope to power Scripps Ranch towards another phenomenal run.

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