El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Colin Grylls

The open layout of Monte Vista’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday night amplified nostalgia-fueled laughter and the chandeliers were just dim enough to hide everyone’s tears.

Held at the El Cajon Elks Lodge, the ceremony had a reunion-like atmosphere. Generations of Monarchs reminisced over dinner as a slideshow cycled through photos of the inductees. A table propped against the wall to the right of the screen displayed their old jerseys, medals and trophies.

Helix’s four-game winning streak is not much of a surprise — the Highlanders (5-3, 3-0 Grossmont Hills) have been one of San Diego’s premier high school football programs for years.

The surprise was Helix’s 2-3 start to the season.

Head coach Robbie Owens said the rough patch was a learning experience for the Highlanders, who were ranked No. 1 in the Union-Tribune’s preseason poll.

West Hills’s student section, looking across the field at Santana’s packed visitors stands, laid claim to their distinctive blue turf before the two teams even lined up for the kickoff.

“This is our house! This is our house!”

The Sultans’ makeshift student section spoke up in return.
“We can’t hear you! We can’t hear you!”

Cristopher Ostreng could have taken all the credit.

The senior quarterback led Granite Hills (6-0, 1-0 Grossmont Hills) with 222 passing yards and 33 rushing yards against Steele Canyon (4-2, 0-1 Grossmont Hills). He passed for two touchdowns and scored two more on the ground, including the go-ahead 5-yard touchdown run with 48 seconds left. He even punched in the the two-point conversion that put the Eagles ahead 30-27.

But Ostreng had someone else on his mind.

One Friday night every year, the sidelines at Santana football games get packed as tight as the stands for the Mini Sultans Cheer Clinic.

This year, 89 kids ages three to 13 joined the cheerleaders for a week of practice that culminated in a halftime show during Santana’s game against Mar Vista.

Kelsie Kester, 13, said she has performed in plays before, but looking up at the packed stands at halftime was something else.

“I was nervous at first, but once you got into the feeling of cheering and having team spirit it was pretty fun,” Kester said.

Santana’s athletic trainers have had a busy season.

Already starting wide receiver Sean Iverson at quarterback, the Sultans lost a couple more players in their 27-13 loss against Mar Vista.

“We’ve got some guys dinged up,” head coach Tim Estes said. “We had a dislocated shoulder and a concussion tonight, and we’re hoping the dislocated shoulder will be OK.”

Foothills Christian fully embraces the pageantry of high school football.

Before its game against Hesperia Christian at Junior Seau Sports Complex last Friday, the Knights greeted the 8u Grossmont Warriors on the field. Each pee-wee player sprinted alongside a high schooler, touching a shiny steel helmet before lining up for the national anthem.

Nothing seemed unusual until Foothills Christian (3-1) and Hesperia Christian (3-0) each sent eight players onto the field for the kickoff.

One way or another, the matchup between the top two teams in Division III was going to end when Christian trotted out its offense to go for two in double overtime against No. 2 Monte Vista.

Patriots senior running back Javier Jimenez took a toss and ran around the right side of the line, diving into the endzone to seal the 22-21 win.

“I knew I had to get in there, there was no other way,” Jimenez said. “I wasn’t gonna stay short but I got in there, forced my way in there.”

Mount Miguel is not a favorite to win the Grossmont Valley League this year, but quarterback Jacob Laverdiere’s flash of brilliance shows they might be in consideration by the time he graduates in 2021.

Laverdiere torched Valhalla for 368 yards and four touchdowns in the Matadors’ 25-13 road win on Friday, Aug. 31.

“It’s a learning process for me,” Laverdiere said. “I’m so young I can learn so much.”

There was no fight, no pushing and no shoving after Christian senior punt returner Matt Armijo dove on a dropped punt and swallowed a late hit against El Capitan last Friday.

Instead of responding with closed fist, senior running back Alexander Gonzalez used his open hands to take a swing pass from senior quarterback Owen Easley 61 yards as time expired in the quarter, setting the Patriots up with first-and-goal on the Vaqueros’ 10-yard line.