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Grossmont 3-A Preview : Wide-Open Offense Could Be the Key to a Wide-Open Race

Mt. Miguel controlled the Grossmont Conference 3-A League the past two years, going 20-4 overall and 8-0 in the division. That will change this season.

The Matadors had 31 seniors on last year’s team, which lost to Morse, 12-7, in the section semifinals. They will have five sophomores this season, including four on a defense that last year led the county by allowing just 4.9 points per game.

There is little question that Mt. Miguel will not be as formidable, which should open up the league. And that’s the way league coaches see the title race: wide open.

There is no clear-cut favorite. Defense will again be the league’s strength. The team that wins the title will be the one that can add to that the most effective offense.

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El Capitan

Last season’s record: 6-5, 3-0 in 2-A League.

Finish: First.

Coach: Joe Rockhold.

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Top returners: Mike Murray (6-2, 211, Sr., LB), Erin Murray (6-2, 218, Sr., LB), Dan Freeman (6-2, 175, Sr., QB), Travis Reed (6-2, 230, Sr., DL).

Top newcomer: None.

Outlook: El Capitan moves to 3-A after winning the 2-A title for the second time in three years last season. The team should have a solid defense, with all seniors starting. Rockhold has 22 lettermen returning and could challenge for a playoff spot. A lot depends on how the Vaqueros adapt to playing teams bigger and quicker than the ones they saw in 2-A. Freeman is a three-year starter at quarterback, and the Murray twins anchor a solid defense.

Granite Hills

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Last season’s record: 5-6, 2-2 in league.

Finish: Third.

Coach: Jim Mann.

Top returners: Brian Giles (5-10, 190, Sr., RB), Eddie Ayala (6-2, 230, Sr., OL), Robbie Christian (5-9, 165, Sr., CB), Pete Stacey (6-3, 200, Sr., LB).

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Top newcomer: Jeff Waymire (6-1, 185, Sr., WR)

Outlook: Nearly every coach agrees Granite Hills has the best overall talent. But a lot will depend on how the team responds Mann, the new coach and former athletic director at El Capitan. Paul Wargo, who resigned after last season, has stayed on as secondary coach to help smooth the transition. A key will be whether Granite Hills can open up its offense with a good passing game. Mike Mikolajewski returns at quarterback.

Helix

Last season’s record: 8-3-1, 3-1 in league

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Finish: Second.

Coach: Jim Arnaiz.

Top returners: Spike Mitchell (5-9, 200, Sr., RB), David Taylor (5-10, 187, Sr., SS), Bruce Marshall (6-2, 235, Sr., NG).

Top newcomers: Robbie Ippolito (6-1, 175, Jr., QB), Frank Nunez (5-10, 165, Jr., FB).

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Outlook: Helix will once again have a strong defense and challenge for the league title and a post-season appearance. Helix has made the playoffs 9 of the past 10 years and won section titles in 1982 and 1978. The biggest question will be offense, with Ippolito and Nunez coming up from the junior varsity. And with Ippolito out with mononucleosis, Tory Winrow, a third baseman on the 1988 section champion baseball team, will start the season at quarterback.

Mt. Miguel

Last season’s record: 11-1, 4-0 in league.

Finish: First.

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Coach: Gary Cooper.

Top returners: Eugene Ethridge (5-10, 175, Sr., TB), Doug Kemp (6-2, 215, Sr., OL), Charlie Moss (5-8, 202, Sr., DL).

Top newcomer: Steve Lindley (6-0, 185, Jr., QB)

Outlook: At least there’s Ethridge. Mt. Miguel lost its overpowering defense, quarterback and top running back to graduation. But Ethridge might be the league’s best pure back with his speed. He missed the first part of last season because of academic ineligibility, but showed great promise later. Mt. Miguel lost a lot to graduation, but with no team appearing ready to dominate the league, the Matadors still could be in the hunt for a playoff spot.

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Monte Vista

Last season’s record: 2-7-1, 1-3 in league.

Finish: Fourth.

Coach: Larry Shepard.

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Top returners: Jon Renert (6-1 195, Sr. LB), Brian Paul (5-11, 185, Sr., LB), Frank Milsap (5-9, 170, Sr., LB), Tyler Adamson (6-1, 185, Sr., LB).

Top newcomer: None.

Outlook: Monte Vista is trying to regroup after going 7-12-1 the past two seasons. Before that, the Monarchs were 35-15-2. It won’t be another easy year as Shepard tries to improve an offense that averaged 10 points last season. “We’re trying to create some balance in our game,” Shepard said. Monte Vista will try to control the game behind fullback Derrick DeLucas (6-1, 218).


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