Helix Stops Del Oro Title Bid, 35-24

By: Staff Report
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All season long, the Del Oro High football team had been coming up with big hits, big runs, big passes and big plays which enabled the Golden Eagles to reach new heights as one of the premier prep programs in the Sacramento area. And, with a second consecutive CJF Sac-Joaquin championship in hand, the Black and Gold reached a first-ever plateau this season by being selected to play in a CIF State Bowl championship game. Although the final result of last Saturday’s 35-24, setback to a talented Helix of La Mesa team wasn’t the ending that Del Oro fans and followers may have wanted, the tough loss in the game at the Home Depot Center in Carson did nothing to tarnish the 2011 accomplishments of the Golden Eagles. Showcasing their speed and athleticism in a seven-minute flurry of the second quarter, the Highlanders from the San Diego Section put together a string of three quick touchdowns in the second period that left Del Oro to play catch-up the rest of the game. “We didn’t quit,” said Del Oro coach Casey Taylor. “We knew their speed was going to give us trouble. We got down, but I’m proud how we battled back.” The Eagles trailed 28-10, but fought back. Russell Smith’s 7-yard touchdown run on their first drive of the third quarter sliced the lead to 11. Del Oro appeared to have even more momentum after Brandon Monroe’s interception on Helix’s ensuing drive. But the turnover was wiped out by a late defensive holding penalty on the Eagles. The Highlanders took advantage of the free first down, scoring their final TD on the last play of the third quarter. “It comes down to who made more mistakes. We had more mistakes,” said Taylor, who declined to comment on the key holding penalty. “Our boys played hard, never gave up.” The Eagles provided some excitement in the final minute of the game. Blake Covey blocked a Helix punt and Alex Bertrando scooped it up and took it in for a touchdown. Covey pounced on an onside kick moments later and the Golden Eagles had a glimmer of hope, down 11 points in the final minute. But time ran out and Del Oro’s remarkable season came to a close. The Eagles finished with a 13-2 record. “It was a once in a lifetime experience to be here with my friends,” said senior Nick O’Sullivan, who was bottled up much of the night by the Highlanders’ outstanding defensive line. “Helix is a good team. They’re very physical. They displayed good sportsmanship.” Helix (13-1) also displayed its explosive offense in the first half. Quarterback Brandon Lewis completed 10 of 14 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns. Speedster Brandon Lewis broke free for a 74-yard touchdown on a pass from Lewis to give the Highlanders a 14-10 lead. A 3-yard TD by Michael Adkins made it 21-10, Lewis then hit Kendal Keys for a 41-yard TD before halftime. Keys had a 6-yard TD catch on a pass from Lewis in the third. Tanner Huber caught a touchdown pass from Bobby Heatherington early in the second quarter. Junior Skyler Rand booted a 26-yard field goal after Del Oro recovered an onside kick on the opening kickoff. “We wanted it. We practiced hard. We just came up short,” said Heatherington, who lost just the second game of his high school career as the starting quarterback. “But it’s been a great experience being here.” The Del Oro players were cheered on by Westlake players and supporters throughout the game. Westlake defeated the Eagles in overtime at the Battle at the Capital in Loomis back in September. The Warriors lost 35-0 to De La Salle in Saturday’s CIF Open Division State Bowl Championship. ~ Staff report