Note: Westlake Village Oaks Christian closed school today because of smoke and ash from the nearby wildfires. Helix is scheduled to play there Friday night, Dec. 7.
The field at Southwestern faces south to North but the football moved east.
Helix, Steele Canyon, and Monte Vista, from the two Grossmont leagues in the foothills of San Diego County, won championships and El Centro Southwest and Calexico Vincent Memorial from the Far East in Imperial Valley also took home hardware.
El Camino, from the oft-ballyhooed Avocado League, provided a break in the trend.
All five division winners will move on to the Southern California championship “bowl series” games this week, prelude to the state championships Dec. 15-16. Five qualifiers from Open through D-1A will play at Hornet Stadium on the Sacramento State campus.
The winner between Helix and Westlake Village Oaks Christian will go to Sacto for a game on Dec. 15. Other division winners will compete Dec. 16 at sites to be determined.
The five other San Diego Section champions have been slotted in D-3A through D-6AA.
Placed in the highest alignment behind the Open Division, which will be settled by Santa Ana Mater Dei and Concord De La Salle on Dec. 16, Helix (12-1) is presented with another daunting challenge on the road, 165 miles away, unless evacuations and continual fire danger force a change of venue.
The Highlanders led favored Mission Viejo, 28-25, with two minutes remaining and had the ball, but a fumble recovered by the Diablos in Helix territory led to a 32-28 Mission Viejo victory in 2015. The Orange County team went on to defeat San Jose Bellarmine, 24-0, and wrap a 16-0 season.
Oaks Christian is 12-2 and winner of its last nine after an uneven start in which the Lions lost their opener to West Hills Chaminade, 47-10, and a game 5, 38-20 decision to Murrieta Valley. They’ve outscored their opponents by an average score of 36-11 since and are No. 8 in Cal-Hi Sports’ Top 50.
Helix, which jumped from 20th to Cal-HI’s 13th this week, has solid quarterbacking in Carson Baker and can pound the ball with sophomore running back Elelyon Noa. The Scots will face the exponential need to protect the ball and play their game in what would be a hostile setting, much like 2015.
Their Cal-Hi rankings fairly close, both teams are closer in the analytics department. Oaks has a computer score of 66.5, according to Cal Preps.com, Helix 65.5.
A nagging, opening game loss of 23-6 to Lancaster Paraclete, which lost to Oaks Christian, 30-21, seems to have cost Helix more in the ratings.
The Pick: Helix 34, @Oaks Christian 28.
Winner meets Northern champion Fresno Central or Folsom.
Steele Canyon (10-4), the seventh seed in the San Diego Section Open Division, won its last six after blowout losses of 41-7 to helix and 51-14 to Grossmont, and knocked off top seed Ramona, 33-29, in the finals. Orange El Modena (12-2) played in a softer North Hills League of Orange County. Steele has a 41.4 Cal-Preps score, El Modena 40.
The Pick: Steele Canyon 24, @El Modena 20.
Winner meets Northern champion Sutter or Half Moon Bay.
El Camino (8-5) overcame the loss of suspended coach Jerry Ralph, who had put the Wildcats in position for a run this season, and rallied behind Mike Hobbs, the former El Centro Central mentor, with strong play through the playoffs. Crenshaw, a member of the weak Los Angeles Coliseum League, was beaten by Harbor City Narbonne, 48-7, in the L.A. City finals.
The Pick: @El Camino, 35, Crenshaw 21.
Winner meets Northern champion Placer or Salinas.
El Centro Southwest (13-0) won its first championship since joining the San Diego Section in 2000 and was one of the three unbeaten finalists to survive last weekend at Southwestern (Ramona and San Diego, the two others, each went down).
San Joaquin Memorial (11-2) lost to Fresno Edison and Fresno Bullard, who finished a combined 13-12, in league play but got hot with four playoff wins and will have to overcome an expected seven-hour trip of 430 miles down U.S. 99, through Los Angeles, east to Palm Springs and South to the Imperial County.
The Pick: San Joaquin Memorial 30, @El Centro Southwest 27.
Winner meets Northern champion Milpitas or Moraga Campolindo.
Monte Vista (8-5) and coming hard, will play at an interesting venue, Anaheim’s Western High, better known as the alma-mater of Tiger Woods. Coach Ron Hamamoto, with 218 career victories, will send big running back Jahmon McClendon against Anaheim Katella (12-1).
The Pick: Katella 41, Monte Vista 28.
Winner meets Northern champion Oakland McClymonds or East Nicolaus.
Huntington Park (11-3) won the Los Angeles City Section after finishing third in the Eastern League. Calexico Vincent Memorial (11-2) will be at home at nearby Calexico High.
The Pick: Huntington Park, 27, Calexico Vincent Memorial 20.
Winner meets Northern champion San Francisco Gallileo or Rio Vista.
The dream season of San Diego High ended with a 71-48 loss in D-IV to Monte Vista, whose Jahmon McClendon, a tall, upright runner in the mold of pro football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson, wore down the Cavers with 8 touchdowns…San Diego, which led, 22-21 in the second quarter, finished with a 12-1 record and tied the 1916 Hilltoppers team for most wins…Helix’ 26-19 victory over Mission Hills attracted a standing-room crowd of 9,304 to Southwestern College, not an easy place to get to on a Friday orSaturday night, but the best locale in the area, by far…Helix thus earned the No. 1 ranking in the final Union-Tribune poll….
|9.||El Centro Southwest||13-0||47||NR|
Points awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.
NR: Not Ranked.
Others receiving votes: La Costa Canyon (7-4, 39 points), St. Augustine (7-4, 23), Monte Vista (8-5, 10), The Bishop’s (9-1, 8), Oceanside (6-7, 4), Grossmont (7-4, 3).
Voters (28 sportswriters, sportscasters, officials): John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Terry Monahan, Don Norcross, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff, Jim Lindren, Union-Tribune correspondents; Paul Rudy, Brandon Stone, Rick Willis, KUSI Chl. 51; Adam Paul, East County Preps.com; Ramon Scott, East County Sports.com; Bodie DeSilva, San Diego Preps.com; Ted Mendenhall, Taylor Quellman, The Mighty 1090; Steve Brand, San Diego Hall of Champions; Troy Hirsch, Fox 5 San Diego; Rick Smith, partletonsports.com; Jerry Schniepp, John LaBeta, Carlton Hoggard, CIF San Diego; Raymond Brown, sdfootball.net; Montell Allen, MBASports-SDFNL Magazine; Bob Petinak, 1360AM; John Kentera, Prep Talent Evaluator; Steve (Biff) Dolan, Mountain Country 107.9FM; Jim Arnaiz, Mike Dolan, John Carroll, CIF Football Tournament Directors.