El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Phillip Brents

The San Diego Section football playoffs have been scheduled at Southwestern College’s renovated DeVore Stadium this year, and East County teams have taken the spotlight.

The six-game championship series kicked off Nov. 28 with the fifth-seeded La Jolla Country Day Torreys defeating the second-seeded Vincent Memorial Scots, 42-0, to capture the Division V championship.

The final five title games are scheduled this weekend, with three featuring an East County team vying for a division championship.

Despite Sunday’s 23-20 victory over the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium, Helix High School alumnus Alex Smith and his Kansas City Chiefs teammates are still trying to find their rhythm in the 2014-15 NFL season.

Smith, the former Highlander star and highly decorated University of Utah quarterback, led Kansas City to an amazing 9-0 start last season and an even more stunning 38-10 lead in the AFC wildcard playoff game against the powerful Indianapolis Colts and their star quarterback Andrew Luck.

San Diego County’s four community college football teams were in action—against one another in conference play—for the first and only time this season last Saturday, Oct. 4.

The Grossmont College Griffins and Palomar Comets are members of the National Southern Conference while the San Diego Mesa Olympians and the Southwestern College Jaguars are members of the American Mountain Conference.

The Pacific Coast Athletic Conference men’s water polo championship race is set up for a fantastic finish after three teams—the Grossmont College Griffins, San Diego Mesa College Olympians and Palomar College Comets — each tied for the lead in the five-team circuit through the first half of conference play.

The Griffins, Olympians and Comets each sported 3-1 conference records at the mid-point of the season.

The Santana High School boys volleyball team turned in a history-making achievement by capturing the school’s first San Diego Section championship in the sport by defeating the Bonita Vista Barons in last May’s Division III finals at Canyon Crest Academy.

Fast-forward six months later and the school’s girls volleyball team is searching not only to land a berth in the Division III playoff field but excel. 

Monte Vista High School junior Tyler Lopez has made quite an impression so far in the early stages of the 2014 cross country season, and the season is far from over.

Lopez, who qualified for last year’s elite state championship meet as a sophomore, stepped off the current campaign by capturing the top time in the boys sophomore race at the Wolf Pack Invitational Aug. 29 at West Hills High School. He timed 10 minutes, 47 seconds on the 2.1-mile course to win by a handy 11-second margin.

The 2014 high school cross-country season has stepped off in fine fashion for both the Valhalla and Steele Canyon high school teams. Steele Canyon captured the team championship in the Blue Division girls’ varsity race at this year’s Mustang Invitational, held Sept. 12 at Rohr Park in Chula Vista, while the Cougars recorded a runner-up finish in the Blue Division boys’ varsity race.

Brian Harvey was an icon at Grossmont College as head coach of the men’s water polo team. Harvey led the Griffins to 20 conference titles during his 25-year tenure and collected more than 600 wins.

Harvey retired last year after guiding Grossmont to its third consecutive Pacific Athletic Conference championship. The Griffins appear in good hands, however, under the reins of new head coach Ty Lackey, a former Grossmont player and assistant coach.

It's one thing to be the big man on campus in high school but quite another thing to excel on the college gridiron.

San Diego State University head football coach Rocky Long cautions young prep recruits from finding immediate success in the collegiate ranks. He said the jump from high school, or even the community college level, is a major one that many players are just not prepared to make initially.

It's thus been a gradual progression rather than instant immersion for many talented players.

Overall, this is Kent Houston’s 3oth year coaching boys water polo at Valhalla High School. During that time, he’s seen both dominance and drop-off by teams from the Grossmont Conference. The sport in East County now appears back on the rise.