Previewing the Top 50 high school football teams in California: No. 9 Helix Highlanders (La Mesa)

SBLive California is previewing the Top 50 high school football teams in the state ahead of the 2020-2021 season. Even with the season on hold, we will continue to highlight the best teams, players and coaches in California. Here’s an inside look at the Helix Highlanders of the CIF San Diego Section, the No. 9 team in our countdown.

MORE: PRESEASON TOP 50 PREVIEWS

HELIX TEAM PAGE 2021 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

HELIX HEAD COACH

Robbie Owens, 5th season (42-12)

2019 AT A GLANCE

  • 11-2 overall record
  • 5-0 in Grossmont-Hills League (1st)
  • Defeated Carlsbad 28-21 in San Diego Section Open Division Championship
  • Lost to Sierra Canyon 38-20 in CIF 1-AA SoCal Championship

ALL-SAN DIEGO SECTION DEPARTURES

  • Tyler Buchner – QB (Notre Dame early enrollee)
  • Elelyon Noa – RB
  • Anthony Lombardo – DL
  • John Carroll – LB
  • Delshawn Traylor – QB/DB
  • Keionte Scott – DB
  • Jeremiah Fletcher – LB

2021 SCHEDULE

  • Jan. 8 at Oceanside – 7PM – Non League
  • Jan. 22 at Cathedral Catholic – 7PM – Non League
  • Jan. 29 vs. St. Augustine – 7PM – Non League
  • Feb. 5 vs. Corona Centennial – 7PM – Non League
  • Feb. 19 vs. Mission Viejo – 7PM – Non League
  • Feb. 26 vs. Steele Canyon – 7PM – League
  • Mar. 5 vs. Grossmont – 7PM – League
  • Mar. 12 at Granite Hills – 7PM – League

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Josh Simmons (Senior-OL/DL) (6-6, 280)

Offer sheet: 27 offers including Auburn, Penn State, and Oklahoma

Jaiden Brown (Senior-DB) (San Diego State signee) (5-11, 160)

2019 stats: two interceptions

https://twitter.com/j8iden1k/status/1288965710299840512

Christian Washington (Junior-RB) (5-10, 190)

2019 stats: 1,110 rushing yards, 15 touchdowns

Clay Petry (Senior-WR) (Penn commit) (6-2, 200)

2019 stats: 68 catches, 1,204 receiving yards, 14 touchdowns

Receiver Clay Petry transferred from Bishop’s to Helix in the offseason.

Shawn Martinez (Senior-OL/DL) (Southwest Minnesota State commit) (6-3, 290)

IMPACT TRANSFERS

  • Josh Simmons – 2021 OL/DL (Madison)
  • Clay Petry – 2021 WR (Bishop’s)
  • Adrian Davis – 2022 DL/LB (St. Augustine)
  • Jaylen Hall – 2023 ATH (Granite Hills)

HOW COVID-19 HAS AFFECTED HELIX FOOTBALL

COVID-19 has affected every high school football team differently. Senior two-way lineman Shawn Martinez shares how COVID-19 has impacted Helix football over the past several months:

“For us it’s a little bit harder because we try to do everything to the book,” said Martinez. “As soon as we were put back into the purple tier, all of our workouts were put back outside, nothing inside the weight room … for linemen we need to be in the weight room like three times out of the week so that was especially hard. Then back in August and September when we were doing workouts over Zoom that was also hard because we never got to use the weight room.”

BEST-CASE SCENARIO FOR HELIX

The Highlanders looked to be one of the state’s top teams when Notre Dame signee and reigning CIF San Diego Section Offensive Player of the Year Tyler Buchner transferred in for his senior season. The delay of the season combined with Buchner’s decision to enroll early means Helix will have to look elsewhere for their signal caller.

Despite the loss, Helix still looks poised to be the top team in San Diego and the front runner for the Open Division Championship.

MOST REALISTIC SCENARIO

Helix challenged themselves when setting up their schedule with top teams from the Southern Section as well as San Diego Section powers in Oceanside and Cathedral Catholic.

The Highlanders will be as strong up front on both sides of the ball as anyone in the county with Shawn Martinez, Josh Simmons, and Noah Viloria leading the way. Despite the loss of Buchner, Helix should still have a dominant offense with running back Christian Washington returning after a breakout sophomore season and the addition of receiver Clay Petry.

QUOTABLE

“If we get the full season like we’re supposed to, my expectation for us is to win CIF again and then get to state playoffs and play for that. Our expectations for Helix every year is to win league and win CIF.”

“We’ve had three to five guys transfer in and they’re all looking pretty well. Everyone’s getting accustomed to our playbook and meshing well with us, we just need more team bonding things but that’s kind of hard right now because of COVID.”

“I think the biggest thing is (Head Coach Robbie Owens) tries to run everything just like a college does, so all of our practices and everything we do is based on how colleges do it … so everything we do is scheduled and exactly when he planned it, on time and we better be there. And if we’re not then we get in trouble.”

– Shawn Martinez (senior lineman)

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