Everyone on the Helix football team was excited to see what the 2019 season would bring. After a disappointing loss in the CIF championship in 2018, they were ready to make another run at a title…and that’s exactly what they would do.
Going into this season, the Highlanders knew they had a tough road ahead of them. A packed schedule included some of the top teams in California. Schools like Cathedral Catholic, St. Augustine, and Oaks Christian would all be challenging to beat- not to mention, Utah’s Herriman Mustangs, a very competitive club themselves.
The team started off with an easy win against Cajon, but now they had to play four top teams in a row. Despite a record breaking run from Elelyon Noa, a few late mistakes gave them their first loss of the season against Herriman. However, they regrouped and pulled off back-to-back-to-back upsets against Cathedral, St. Augustine, and Oaks Christain. The team found their groove, and it seemed like no one could stop the Helix football team. But once the Homecoming game arrived, their season would make a drastic turn.
Already winning big against El Cap, they kept feeding the rock to Elelyon to chew some clock. But just before halftime, he came up limping. The team didn’t know it yet, but a gruesome ankle injury would keep him out for the rest of the year. Needing someone to step up, the coaches called on Sophomore Chris Washington. He delivered. Chris strung together a series of two-touchdown, 100 yard games, leading the Highlanders to three straight wins. One of those wins was against a rival Grossmont team, where a last second trick play would lead to a Highlander victory and eventually receive play of the year honors.
Helix was one win away from claiming the number one seed in the Open Division playoffs. Steele Canyon was the only school standing in their way. Despite losing big at halftime, the Highlanders were able to put together a second half comeback. A Delshawn-to-Jahari touchdown connection put the game away, secured the number one seed, and knocked the Cougars out of the Open Division.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Highlanders would meet up with a familiar foe, the St. Augustine Saints, the team that knocked them out in the championship the year before. It looked like the outcome was going to be the same this time around. However, even with a one-point lead and just a few minutes left in the game, St. Augustine continued to throw the football. That was a mistake. Desperately needing a stop, the defense delivered. Sammy Stewart jumped in front of a bad pass, and he ran it four yards the other way. That pick-six won the game, and Helix would be moving on.
Up next came a battle with the Carlsbad Lancers. The game was tied at zero going into the half, so both teams would need to make some adjustments if they wanted to win a CIF title. Carlsbad struck first, as a screen pass went seventy yards to the house. But the Highlanders took over from there. They scored twenty-one points in a matter of minutes, as a long touchdown run and two pick-sixes gave them a multi-score lead. They chewed some clock on their next few possessions to put the game away. Helix had accomplished what they were working for all season, a tenth CIF championship. Now they had a shot to win regionals.
In a matchup against Sierra Canyon, the team was overpowered. The Trailblazers made less mistakes, played better defense, and delivered when they needed it the most. They played much better football, and with a little help from the officials, went on to win the Southern California championship.
The Highlander season may not have ended on a high note, but there are some pretty great moments to look back on. Elelyon set the school’s all-time rushing record, a Miami Miracle-esque play against Grossmont won play of the year, we destroyed El Cap on Homecoming weekend, and Sammy’s pick-six sent us to the CIF finals. Eight players made the Grossmont Hills All League First Team, and Elelyon finished second in the Silver Pigskin voting. Coach Owens won Coach of the Year, John Carroll won Defensive Player of the Year, and Shawn Martinez won Offensive Player of the Year.
It truly was a great season for Highlander football. Good luck to all the seniors moving on to the next stage of their football careers. We’ll miss watching you play. But remember, once a Scottie, always a Scottie!