Friday, November 10, 2023

Prep Football: Lincoln and Helix Collide in Open Division Semifinal

The stage is set for an epic Open Division Semifinal clash between two of San Diego's top high school football teams. Vic Player Stadium will play host as the No. 1 seed Lincoln Hornets (10-0) and the No. 4 Helix Highlanders (9-1) battle for a spot in the Open Division Championship game at Snapdragon Stadium.

This will be the third all-time meeting between these teams, with Helix taking both previous matchups. The last game took place during the 2021 Division I Final, where the Highlanders came away with a 28-21 victory.

Lincoln comes into this matchup on a 22-game win streak, powered by a dynamic no-huddle spread offense led by standout junior dual-threat quarterback Akili Smith Jr. With an abundance of receiving options and depth in the ground attack, the Hornets are averaging over 40 points per game this season.

Smith, an Oregon commit, has thrown for nearly 2000 yards and 23 touchdowns, while the ground attack is paced by the productive trio of Aden Jackson, Donald Reed III, and CJ Williams. Key passing targets for Smith include junior Dreyden Garner, senior Mahki Gray, and senior Ayden Billups.

Lincoln's defense has also been stifling, giving up less than nine points on average. With 355 tackles and 20.5 sacks as a unit, they can pose a significant challenge for Helix's offense.

Anchored by senior linebacker Jerome Roberts, the Hornets have been a force to be reckoned with. The Defensive Player of the Year candidate has 130 tackles, an interception, a fumble return for a touchdown, and two blocked punts this season.

Helix provides a formidable test, with their only loss coming to fellow Open Division team Granite Hills in double overtime. Senior quarterback Ryland Jessee guides a balanced offense, with senior running back Kevin Allen III rushing for 1295 yards and 22 touchdowns. Wide receivers Jackson Daniels and Brandon Arrington are Jessee's top targets.

On defense, Helix has proven adept at stifling opponents, led by top tackler Jirah Savaiinaea, and pass rusher Anthony Gash, who has six sacks in 2023. Their pressure and ability to create turnovers could disrupt Lincoln's explosiveness. Daniel Larsina is also a factor at the nose tackle position.

With a spot in the finals on the line, this playoff showdown is sure to come down to key matchups. Can Helix contain Smith and Lincoln's high-powered attack? Will Lincoln's stout defense slow down Allen and his effective ground game? The Hornets seek to be the first back-to-back Open Division champs, while Helix eyes their first title since 2019.

The winner will meet Granite Hills for the ultimate prize in San Diego prep football. This semifinal clash is poised to be another instant classic!

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