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Articles by Phillip Brents

Give them a cheer!

The inaugural San Diego Spirit Championships took place Jan. 20 at Montgomery High School. A total of 32 schools participated in the history-making event. 

East County was represented by seven high schools: Helix, Valhalla, Grossmont, Santana, Steele Canyon, El Capitan and Granite Hills.

History speaks for itself. On Jan. 18, 1958, Willie O’Ree — a 22-year-old forward from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada — became the first black man to play in the National Hockey League when he suited up for the Boston Bruins in a game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Montreal Forum.

The game of hockey has certainly changed over the 60 years since O’Ree made his history-making debut. O’Ree — dubbed the “Jackie Robinson of hockey” — has helped forward that change.

The San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl game on Dec. 28 marked not only the 40th anniversary of the event but also marked the game’s first match-up of teams ranked nationally in the top 20 since 2008.

Michigan State University (No. 16) and Washington State University (No. 18) provided the marquee matchup at SDCCU Stadium. 

But it largely proved to be anti-climactic as Michigan State trounced the Cougars 42-17 in front of 47,092 fans.

Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs played near perfect football during the first half of their NFL wild card playoff game against the visiting Tennessee Titans on Saturday, Jan. 6.

Smith, a Helix High School alumnus in his 13th season in the NFL, completed 19 of 23 passing attempts for 231 yards and two touchdowns as the AFC West champion Chiefs built a commanding 21-3 halftime lead.

The 18th consecutive season for CIF-sanctioned inline hockey in the San Diego Section faced off Nov. 27. It is the second consecutive year that Patrick Henry High School has a team participating in the CIF-Metro Conference. 

Seventeen teams are active this season throughout San Diego County. The Patriots remain the lone East County-based team.

Patriot Nation 

The high school football season finally came to an end this weekend with state bowl championship games.

Title contests were played throughout the state in 13 sub-divisions.

Of the six San Diego Section divisional champions that qualified for the regional playoffs, four played for state bowl championships.

By Phillip Brents

For The East County Californian

The Steele Canyon High School girls cross-country team is returning to familiar territory this weekend at the California state championship meet in Fresno. But the Cougars will be treading new territory as the reigning Division II San Diego Section champions.

The San Diego State University men’s ice hockey team is off to an undefeated start; the Aztecs are led by a familiar face — one from East County.

Sophomore Isaac Miller is a second-year forward for SDSU. The 2016 Helix High School graduate scored the game-winning goal in last Saturday’s 5-4 win over the University of Southern California at the Poway Ice Arena to extend the Aztecs’ season record to 10-0-1.

Alex Smith has been criticized throughout his 13-year NFL career for his lack of zing with the football. Four weeks into the current season, Smith and his Kansas City Chiefs are the league’s lone unbeaten team.

Smith led a dramatic comeback effort to allow the Chiefs (4-0) to nip the visiting Washington Redskins, 29-20, in a nationally telecast Monday Night Football matchup on ESPN.

The youth hockey season faced off locally in late August; now it’s time for the pros to take the ice.

Kroc Center Ice, which is part of the overall San Diego Salvation Army Kroc Center complex in the Rolando area bordering La Mesa, offers a wide variety of programs, including a popular day camp, wellness center, recreation pool, education center, gymnasium, ice arena and on-site church.