CARSON, Calif. --
There are speed teams, and there are power teams when it
comes to stereotyping how squads go about trying to win.
Then there is Helix (La Mesa), the ultimate hybrid.
The Highlanders showed the flair of a big-strike passing
offense Saturday at the Home Depot Center and at the same time controlled the
game in the trenches to take a 35-24 victory over No. 24 Del Oro (Loomis) in the Division II
title game, extending the southern domination in the title matchups. It was an
emphatic victory over a team that almost knocked off Open Division combatant
Westlake earlier this year, and coach Troy Starr went another step, calling it
the biggest win in the program’s history.
“It’s the best offensive and defensive lines I’ve ever coached,”
“It’s the guys up front. That’s
where it starts.”
Before crediting the big guys on the lines, the most recognizable
reasons for the victory were quarterback Brandon Lewis and running back Darrion Hancock. Lewis,
a senior, only needed to complete 11 of his 16 passes to total 254 airborne
yards to go with three touchdowns. Hancock handled the hard work in between the
tackles, racking up 108 rush yards and a touchdown on 26 tries.
The second quarter told the whole story, Golden Eagles
coach Casey Taylor said. His team held a 10-3 advantage less than 2 minutes
into the quarter, then went to the locker room down 28-10. Lewis found Gary Thompson for a 73-yard passing
score straight up the field to make it 14-10, Michael Adkins ran a touchdown in
from the shotgun from 3 yards out to make it 21-10 and then Kendal Keys caught a
slip screen pass and took it 32 yards for a touchdown less than 2 minutes
That second quarter, combined with Helix’s ability to
slow the lauded Del Oro run game, was the key.
“We knew they were explosive and we had to eliminate the
big plays. In the second quarter, that was kind of the game, I felt,” Taylor
said. “They’re so fast on ‘D’ that when we got a hole or had a seam they sucked
us up. We were getting 7 yards tonight whereas in the season we were getting 15
And that’s where the line play comes in. Del Oro averaged
235.6 rushing yards per game coming in but left Carson with just 93 on 28
tries. Credit guys like
, William Milo
, Lipo Napoleon
to name a few. Linebacker Ernest Shipley
tied for the team lead with nine
tackles, so did Kacy Smith
“They’re a team that runs it very well, they hit the
holes hard. So we had to contain our gaps and not work to the side. We did a great
job,” Thompson said. “We wanted to win our last game and we did.”
Del Oro’s running back tandem of Brandon Monroe and Nick O'Sullivan
munched up 57 and 25 yards, respectively. Monroe came in averaging 114.6 yards
and O’Sullivan 95.9 per game.
The Helix offensive line didn’t allow a sack and only three
tackles for loss. Led by guard Augie Lugo, the line shook off some early
confusion and then did exactly what it wanted to do: Protect the quarterback
and open holes for the running backs.
“We pride ourselves on giving Brandon a lot of time in
the pocket to look at his options and make things happen. I feel like we
succeeded,” said Lugo, an All-San Diego Section performer. “We just wanted to bring
tradition back to the Helix program.”
The second half lacked the explosiveness of the first.
Del Oro’s Russell Smith capped off a 13-play, 88-yard march with a 6-yard
touchdown run to make it 28-17 with 6:25 left in the third but Helix retorted
with Keys’ second touchdown reception of the night, a 7-yard out pattern from
Lewis on the final play of the third quarter.
“We came out in the second half and thought we could get
back in the game. All the credit goes to them. They’re big, fast and strong,”
Taylor said. “You hope to eliminate mistakes but we had a couple. I knew if we
let them get in the 30s we would have a hard time winning the game.”
Blake Covey blocked a punt for Del Oro in the final
minute of the game and Alex Bertrando recovered it for a 6-yard punt return
touchdown. Bertrando recovered the ensuing onside kick but Del Oro couldn’t get
one more score before the clock ran out.
The Golden Eagles’ Skyler Rand kicked a 36-yard field goal
to open the scoring and Hancock crashed in from 7 yards for make it 7-3 with
4:24 left in the first. Tanner Huber caught a 3-yard pass from Bobby Heatherington
to make it 10-7 with 10:11 left in the second.
Each team had an early-season loss in nonleague contests,
and both won out to make the title game. Now Helix reigns supreme after a
season-opening 21-14 defeat against Eastlake.
“That opened up our eyes and I was like ‘I don’t like
this taste in my mouth. It’s bad, it’s awful,” Thompson said. “We didn’t want
that any more. We came out hungry and angry and whatever team was in our way,
we handled our business.”
Helix 35, Del Oro 24
DO 3 7
7 7 - 24
H 7 21
7 0 -
D – Rand 36 field goal 9:41
H – Hancock 7 run (Vann Sabin kick)
D – Huber 3 pass from Heatherington (Rand kick) 10:11
H – Thompson 73 pass from Lewis (Sabin kick) 7:25
H – Adkins 3 run (Sabin kick) 2:54
H – Keys 32 pass from Lewis (Sabin kick) 1:11
D – Smith 6 run (Rand kick) 6:25
H – Keys 7 pass from Lewis (Sabin kick) :00
D – Bertrando 6 punt return (Rand kick) :35
PASSING: H – Lewis 11-16-254-3-0. D – Heatherington
RUSHING: H – Hancock 26-108, Adkins 5-12, Lewis 4-11, Team
1-(minus 1). D – Monroe 9-57, O’Sullivan 16-25, Russell Smith 3-11.
RECEIVING: H – Thompson 3-117, Cameron Lee 3-42, Keys 2-39,
Jimmy Pruitt 2-35, Hancock 1-21. D – Bertrando 6-55, Huber 2-41, Smith 4-25,
Monroe 2-23, Covey 2-20, Daniel Thomas 3-15.