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SAN DIEGO PREP FOOTBALL : TONIGHT’S GAMES

Helix vs. Morse

The records--Helix, 9-1 overall and 3-1 in the 3A Grossmont League. Morse, 7-3 and 5-0 in the City Eastern League.

The site--Mesa College.

The season--Helix finished second to Granite Hills in league and No. 4 in The Times’ Top 10. Morse finished first in league and No. 8 in the rankings.

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Last year--Neither team qualified for the playoffs. Helix was 8-2, but its 6-2 league mark was fourth. Morse was 3-7 and third in league.

Common opponents--Patrick Henry (Helix 21, Patrick Henry 0; Morse 27, Henry 15).

Helix outlook--A balanced offense led by quarterback Dan Hammerschmidt enabled Helix to finish fourth in offense in the county, averaging 29.7 points. Hammerschmidt completed 67 of 141 passes for 1,235 yards and 12 touchdowns. Junior running backs Kerry Barr, Eric Arcio and Sidney Baxter line up in a three-back set. Defensively, Helix allowed 8.9 points a game, which was sixth in the county.

Morse outlook--Quarterback Manny Cass, five running backs and a big offensive line form the nucleus of the Tiger wishbone. The backs are Steve Palmer, Anthony Prather, Wesley Fuller, George Jackson and Sidney Ethridge. “Cass is probably the best throwing quarterback we’ve had since Keith McGee,” Coach John Shacklett said. The team is predominantly made up of sophomores and juniors who will be in their first playoff game.

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Key to the game--In its only loss (31-25 to Granite Hills), Helix had trouble stopping the wishbone. Helix Coach Jim Arnaiz: “No doubt, the trench war is where the game will be decided. The key to stopping Morse is stopping its inside game.” Shacklett said containing Hammerschmidt is the key for Morse.

Chula Vista vs. Granite Hills

The records--Chula Vista, 8-2 and 3-1 in the Metro-Mesa League. Granite Hills, 10-0 and 4-0 in the 3A Grossmont League.

The site--Valley Stadium.

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The season--Chula Vista finished second in league, one game behind Sweetwater. Granite Hills won the league title by one game.

Last year--Chula Vista beat Lincoln, 13-12, and beat Kearny, 42-14, before losing to El Camino, 24-17, in the 2-A Championship game. Granite Hills did not make the playoffs.

Common opponents--Santana (Chula Vista 44, Santana 0; Granite Hills 49, Santana 0).

Chula Vista outlook--The Spartan defense had three shutouts. It allowed more than 10 points only once, that coming in a 20-0 loss to Sweetwater. Leaders of the defense are tackle Bobby Bleisch and linebacker J.J. Mercado. Fullback Sione Fehoko was the county’s No. 4 rusher (1,142 yards, 13 touchdowns).

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Granite Hills outlook--The Eagles have a powerful running game with Robert Padillo and Tom Vardell. Padillo was the county’s fifth leading rusher with 1,011 yards; Vardell was sixth with 1,000 yards. The Eagles proved they had comeback ability in the first game of the season by rallying from a 21-10 deficit in a 24-21 win over Poway. Linebacker Mike Garrow is the team’s top defensive player.

Key to the game--Whether Granite Hills’ strong running game can overpower Chula Vista’s tough defense.

Castle Park vs. El Camino

The records--Castle Park, 4-6 and 3-0 in the Metro-South Bay League. El Camino, 6-3-1 and 5-0-1 in the Avocado League.

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The site--Oceanside High School.

The season--Castle Park won the league championship by a game over Mar Vista. El Camino won its third consecutive league title by a game over San Marcos.

Last year--Castle Park did not make the playoffs. El Camino beat Southwest, 28-0, and Clairemont, 42-0, before beating Chula Vista, 24-17, to win the 2-A title.

Common opponents--None.

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Castle Park outlook--Castle Park had its most impressive victory in a game against Southwest (14-7) that paved the way for the Trojans’ league title. Southwest was coming off an 8-7 upset of Chula Vista, but Dick Oliver’s team controlled the line of scrimmage and won a game that was more lopsided than the final score indicated. “That’s the key against El Camino,” Oliver said. Good blocking would also help 5-foot 11-inch running back Steve Gross, who has had success running inside this season.

El Camino outlook--The defending 2-A champions lost three of their first four games--to Vista, 28-7, Fallbrook, 10-9, and Orange Glen, 16-7--but bounced back to win another league title. Quarterback Shane Hawkins has averaged 4.8 yards per carry and passed for 881 yards and 12 touchdowns. Joe Emerick led the Wildcats with 602 rushing yards and Jack Taele gained 574 yards on 74 carries. Wide receivers Mike Knudsen and Rodney Cotton missed El Camino’s three losses because of injuries but have come back to combine for 10 touchdown passes.

Key to the game--El Camino may have to battle complacency, since it will play a 4-6 team. “That shouldn’t be a problem,” Meyer said. “All of our kids know that a win-loss record doesn’t mean anything once Friday night’s game gets started.”

University vs. Crawford

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The records--University, 5-5 overall and 3-2 in the City Western League. Crawford, 7-1-1 overall and 5-0 in the City Central League.

The site--Patrick Henry High School.

The season--University finished second in league, a game behind University City. Crawford won its second consecutive league title and is the No. 1 seed in the 2-A playoffs.

Last year--University did not make the playoffs. Crawford lost to Clairemont, 20-0, in the first round of the 2-A playoffs.

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Common opponents--University City (University City 21, University 7; Crawford 7, University City 0). San Diego (San Diego 18, University 14; Crawford 37, San Diego 0). Hoover (University 20, Hoover 14; Crawford 33, Hoover 7). Point Loma (Point Loma 38, University 20; Crawford 14, Point Loma 14). St. Augustine (University 34, St. Augustine 6; Crawford 35, St. Augustine 0).

University outlook--University likes to run the ball. James Wilson is the Dons’ leading rusher with 869 yards and two touchdowns on 117 carries. Martin Correia has gained 623 yards in 109 attempts and also scored twice. Quarterback Matt Smith, the Dons’ best defensive player as a strong safety, has completed 69 of 166 passes for 890 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Crawford outlook--The Colts have won five straight, including three shutouts, and were challenged only once in league play--a 23-15 win over Lincoln that decided the league championship. Crawford has the county’s No. 4 defense, allowing 7.4 points per game. Quarterback Tommy Fejarang averaged 18 yards per completion and hit 28 of 70 attempts for 506 yards and nine touchdowns in league play. Running back Kevin Williams gained 539 yards and had eight touchdowns on 63 carries.

Key to the game--University needs to play a ball-control offense and keep the ball away from Crawford. Otherwise, the Colts’ quick and explosive offense, which averaged 24.5 points per game, could turn it into a rout.

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