Jeff Smith 2 p.m., Dec. 18
Game of the Week
#4 St. Augustine (9-0, 4-0 Eastern) at #2 Cathedral Catholic (8-1, 4-0) Friday 7 p.m.
The Holy Bowl is typically one of the section’s main attractions, and this year the religious rivalry is even bigger. Cathedral Catholic and St. Augustine are two of the best teams in San Diego, and the winner on Friday night takes the Eastern League crown and the top seed in Division III. Both the Dons and Saints have allowed less than 10 points per game this season, and the similarities don’t stop there. Senior quarterbacks Garrett Bogart (Cathedral Catholic) and Joe Kennedy (St. Augustine) led each team’s offense that features heavy doses of senior running backs J.J. Stavola (571 yards, 10 TDs) and Aaron Anderson (1,065 yards, 9 TDs). Offensively, Cathedral Catholic likes to run the ball more than St. Augustine but both teams will mix running and passing throughout the game. This game promises to be one of the best of the regular season and a potential playoff preview. A standing room only crowd is expected at Manchester Stadium, and tickets are being sold only through each school.
Best of the Rest
#1 Helix (8-1, 4-0 Grossmont Hills) at #10 Steele Canyon (7-2, 4-0) Thursday 7 p.m.
Of the 31 games moved up in observance of Veterans Day, an East County showdown for the Grossmont Hills League championship highlights the Thursday slate. Since shifting its focus to East County opponents, Helix has earned area bragging rights in dominant fashion. The Highlanders have won their last five games by a combined score of 258-17, simply overwhelming opposition on both sides of the ball with talented seniors Jimmy Pruitt, Gary Thompson, Brandon Lewis and Darrion Hancock leading the way. The Highlanders have rolled through league play, but a trip to Spring Valley to face Steele Canyon will be their toughest Grossmont Hills test. The Cougars have rattled off five straight wins since a 2-2 start, keeping pace with Helix and positioning themselves nicely for the Division II playoffs. Helix has won four of the last five against Steele Canyon, including a 26-7 win in La Mesa last season.
#3 Poway (8-0-1, 3-0 Palomar) at Rancho Bernardo (5-4, 2-1) Thursday 7 p.m.
Poway is on pace to earn the top seed in Division I, but its last obstacle to the No. 1 spot and an outright Palomar League title comes against rival Rancho Bernardo. The Titans have beaten league foes by an average of 25 points with a balance of offense, defense and special teams. Rancho Bernardo has bounced back from a midseason swoon with two straight wins, and the Broncos are playing their best football of the season. Revenge will be on Poway’s minds, as the Titans have lost their last two meetings against Rancho Bernardo.
El Camino (4-5, 1-2) at #6 Oceanside (6-2-1, 2-1) Friday 7 p.m.
Though this North County rivalry might not appear that great on paper, that was also the case last year when El Camino upset Oceanside 24-14 in the final week of the regular season. Oceanside will be looking for payback, and a Pirates’ victory would likely secure a first round bye in the Division II playoffs. The last two meetings between the Pirates and Wildcats have been decided by single digits, and this one might be just as close.
Coronado (6-3, 3-2 Central) at San Diego (6-2, 3-1) Thursday 6:30 p.m.
Though Kearny wrapped up the Central League title last week, this matchup at Balboa Stadium has significant postseason implications for both San Diego and Coronado. The Cavers an outside chance at a top-four seed in Division I and the Islanders likely need a victory to host a first round playoff game in Division IV. Coronado has won three straight meetings against San Diego.
In the Red Zone
Serra (3-6, 0-4 Western) at Point Loma (6-2-1, 3-0-1) Thursday 2:30 p.m.
Pictured: St. Augustine head coach Richard Sanchez