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Articles by Phillip Brents

Though no East County high school football team won a San Diego Section championship this year, several East County players were a part of Cathedral Catholic’s Open Division championship celebration Nov. 17 at Southwestern College’s DeVore Stadium.

Playing in front of more than 8,000 fans, the second-seeded Dons overcame an early 14-0 deficit against the top-seeded Torrey Pines Falcons to post a 28-17 victory to collect their 12th section championship in their history and second Open Division title in the last three years.

The Helix Highlanders will represent East County in Saturday’s San Diego Section Division I championship game after defeating the host Eastlake Titans, 42-26, last Friday in the division semifinals.

The third-seeded Highlanders (8-4) will be making their fifth consecutive trip to the CIF finals. They will meet the fourth-seeded St. Augustine Saints (9-3) in this year’s championship game. Kick-off is 7 p.m. at Southwestern College.

Saturday’s CIF final is a rematch of a Sept. 14 non-league game in which Helix defeated St. Augustine 35-14.

Longtime La Mesa resident Willie O’Ree, who played seven seasons for the original San Diego Gulls in the Western Hockey League, has gained hockey immortality after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The gala induction ceremonies took place on Monday, Nov. 12, at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

The honor is a truly deserving one for the pioneering O’Ree, 83, who earned distinction as the first black man to play in the National Hockey League.

Grossmont College’s men’s and women’s water polo teams represented themselves well at this year’s Pacific Coast Athletic Conference championship tournament held Nov. 2-3 at Southwestern College’s new aquatics complex.

Five teams competed in each gender field.

Top-seeded Grossmont College defeated second-seeded Palomar College, 21-7, in the men’s final while third-seeded Grossmont defeated fourth-seeded Southwestern, 12-2, to finish third in the women’s field.

If you have felt a slight chill in the night air lately, that can only mean one thing: it is time for the ice hockey season to face off.

The San Diego State University ice hockey team, braced by three East County players in the lineup, will host the University of San Diego Toreros on Friday, Oct. 12, at the Joan Kroc Salvation Army Center in the team’s home opener. Face off is 8 p.m.

It is an intriguing matchup between local college programs that are both competing this season at the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II level.

The El Capitan Vaquero Stampede officially faced off the 2018 high school cross country season Aug. 25 at Lakeside’s Lindo Lake.

Top East County female runners included Valhalla sophomore Peri Kraft (first in the Division II girls frosh/soph race with a time of 9:43), Christian sophomore Alaina Zamorano (first the Division III frosh/soph race in 9:38), El Capitan junior Carolinh Calvert (second in the Division II girls junior/senior race in 9:37) and Christian sophomore Leah Kunde (fourth in the Division III frosh/soph race in 10:14).

The 2018 high school cross country season has stepped off, and East County runners are, well, off and running.

Last Friday’s 24th annual Mustang Invitational at Chula Vista’s Rohr Park attracted 31 teams. Among the leaders on the course were Christian sophomores Alaina Zamorano and Leah Kunde, Valhalla sophomore Peri Kraft and Helix junior Jaden Forester.

Zamorano won the Silver Division girls varsity race with a time of 13:36.98 while Kunde won the Silver Division girls junior varsity race with a time of 10:58.69.

The San Diego State University football team wrapped up its second week of practice with the team’s annual FanFest intra-squad scrimmage Aug. 18 at SDCCU Stadium. Those in attendance had a chance to watch both present and future Aztec standouts as the team squared off in an offense versus defense format.

The SDSU defense showed it could be something to contend with this season after holding the offense to a scoreless tie.

Following the scrimmage, fans in attendance had a chance to meet selected Aztec players during an on-field autograph session.

Steele Canyon defeated Santa Fe Christian, 14-7, to win last year’s San Diego Section Division III boys water polo championship. It was the perfect ending to the season for the Cougars, who were making their first championship game appearance in school history.

The 2018 season looks to be more challenging as Steele Canyon moves up to the Division II competition level, but head coach Dan Way said it is business as usual for his team.

“Our goal is to be Division II champions,” Way said. “We’ve returned everyone from the starting lineup.”

Southwestern College’s Devore Stadium was the site of Steele Canyon High School quarterback Thomas Fishburne’s two biggest wins as a senior last season.

The Cougars upset the top-seeded Ramona Bulldogs, 33-29, to win the San Diego Section Division II championship last Dec. 2.

Two weeks later, Steele Canyon capped its eight-game winning streak with a dramatic 44-42 come-from-behind victory against Northern California regional champion Half Moon Bay to claim the California Division 3-A state bowl championship.