The San Diego Section has four chances to win at least one of the six state championships this week. Last year the Section was 2-3, with victories by Cathedral in Division I-AA and Madison in D-3.
Most of this week’s games appear tossups, but no team has a challenge like that facing the Helix Highlanders, who will be a decidedly visiting team at Hornet Stadium on the Sacramento State campus.
Helix’ opponent is the Sac-Joaquin Section’s 15-0 Folsom, painfully remembered as the team that clobbered Oceanside, 68-7, in Pirates coach John Carroll’s final game in 2014.
Sacramento is the hub of the Sac-Joaquin Section and Folsom, for which Johnny Cash brought some notoriety when he wrote “Folsom Prison Blues” in 1957, is its heartbeat, about 17 miles and 20 minutes from Hornet Stadium.
The Bulldogs were 16-0 in 2014, 14-1 in 2015, and 12-2 in 2016.
The Highlanders had success against another tough team from that area, defeating Loomis Del Oro, 35-24, for the Division II championship in 2011, but that game was played at the Carson Stub Hub in Southern California.
Cathedral topped Stockton St. Mary’s of the Sac-Joaquin Section, 38-31, for the 1-AA championship in 2016. That game also could have been considered a home engagement for St. Mary’s, which is located about 45 miles from Hornet Stadium.
As a prognosticator, I’ve been a shade above average, nothing to brag about. I’m 13-9 in the last three weeks, falling from 8-3 in Week 12 to 2-3 and 3-3. Here’s another shot trying to pick the winners:
The moons seemed to be aligned for Folsom, realistically the home team at this “neutral” facility. The Bulldogs have scored 721 points and average 48 points a game. No team has come closer than Carmichael Jesuit, which bowed, 27-14, in the Sac-Joaquin playoffs.
Helix’ outstanding defenders Isaac Stuart-Taylor and Rashad Scott will be tested by Folsom wide outs Elijah Badger and Joe Ngata. Joe and his brother Daniyel combined for five touchdowns last week in the Bulldogs’ 54-35 win over 12-2 Fresno Central.
Helix, 13-1 after an opening loss to Paraclete, was tough and resourceful last week, hiking 165 miles through the Los Angeles and Ventura County fire areas, overcoming an early deficit, and walking away from Cal-Hi Sports’ No. 8 team, Westlake Village Oaks Christian, 28-13.
Scott’s 27-yard touchdown interception return put the Highlanders ahead for good, 14-13.
The win elevated Helix from 13th to seventh in Cal-Hi’s top 50. Folsom now stands fifth.
The Pick: Folsom 28, Helix 21, @Sacramento State.
Rancho San Diego and areas around Mt. San Miguel are agog. The Cougars’ game with Half Moon Bay has been moved from Steele Canyon (11-4) to Southwestern College in response to an anticipated crowd that would swamp Steele facilities.
Steele, under Coach Scott Longerbone, has come all the way from being a No. 7 seed in the San Diego Section playoffs to knock off unbeaten Ramona in the San Diego finale and top Orange El Modena last week. Those wins came after blowout losses to Helix and Grossmont in the middle of the season.
Half Moon Bay (14-0), from the Central Coast Section, overlooks the Pacific and sits 57 miles South of San Francisco on Highway 1. The also-named Cougars (14-0) represent one of the oldest schools in the area, opening in 1909, and are members of the Peninsula Bay League.
The Central Coast is not regarded as one of the upper-echelon sections in California football, although the West Catholic League of San Mateo Serra, San Jose Village Christian, Mountain View St. Francis, and San Jose Bellarmine have solid, state-wide reputations.
The Half Moon Cougars received a 46.0 scorefrom Cal Preps.com, while the Steele Cougars’ score is 42.8.
The Pick: Steele Canyon 24, Half Moon Bay 20, @Southwestern College.
The Pick: Milpitas 31, @El Centro Southwest 35.
The Pick: San Francisco Galileo 30, @Calexico Vincent Memorial 45.
Folsom’s Cal-Preps.com score is 73.6 to Helix’ 67.5……Helix’ Cal Preps.com score dipped from 68.4 after Paraclete was shocked by Harbor City Narbonne, 50-14…San Diego teams came close to sweeping all six Southern California playoff games last week…Monte Vista was edged by Anaheim Katella, 36-35, after leading, 35-7, and El Camino was upset by Los Angeles Crenshaw, 13-10…Cathedral lost to Loomis Del Oro of the Sierra Foothill League, 22-12, in the season opener…Del Oro, 8-6 overall, was on the short end of a 54-10 score against Folsom…the Folsom state prison is 3.3 miles from the high school campus, opened in 1880, and was the first California lockup to have electricity…Milpitas (12-2) won its Northern championship, 52-38, over Moraga Campolindo, the team that overcame a three-touchdown deficit in the final seven minutes to top El Capitan, 35-28, in the state final in 2014…Milpitas has a 38.7 Cal Preps.com score to 14-0 El Centro Southwest’s 38.2…San Francisco Galileo (10-2) is the alma mater of O.J. Simpson…the Imperial Valley is hosting two championship games within five miles…El Centro Southwest is at home and Calexico Vincent Memorial (12-2) is playing at Calexico High….