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Granite Hills returns to San Diego Section semifinals

11/09/2018, 10:50pm PST
By Jim Lindgren

High School Football El Capitan @ Granite Hills

Now that Granite Hills is returning to the San Diego Section Division II semifinals for the second straight season, Cris Ostreng can admit to a little doubt at the beginning of this campaign.

“Preseason, nobody expected us to do this … not even the team,” Ostreng said. “Now, we want to win it all. We’re going for the ring. First one in Granite Hills history.”

The Eagles have Ostreng and a rather stingy defense to thank.

A senior quarterback, Ostreng rushed for 164 yards and passed for 210 as top-seeded Granite Hills downed No. 8 Ramona, 27-14, in Friday’s quarterfinal at Granite Hills.

With the convincing win, Granite Hills (10-1) earned a semifinal date with Lincoln next Friday.

In a first-ever meeting between Granite Hills and Ramona (7-4), the Eagles put up 430 yards total offense and limited Ramona’s vaunted rusher, Sean McDonald, to just 61 yards on 18 carries. McDonald came in with 1,355 yards in seven games.

“Defense was lights out,” Eagles coach Kellan Cobbs said.

Eventual state-champ Steele Canyon edged Granite Hills, 28-27, in the semifinals last year before beating Ramona, 34-29, in the section title game.

“Give them credit,” Ramona coach Damon Baldwin said. “They made big plays. We didn’t.”

Ostreng rushed 18 times for his 164 yards and scored once on a 4-yard run. Ostreng was 13-of-25 passing for 210 yards and touchdown passes of 50 yards to James Johnson and 32 yards to Dylan Rutter. Johnson caught seven passes for 130 yards.

The Eagles soared to a 20-7 halftime lead, gaining 291 total yards to the Bulldogs’ 117.

Ostreng took the Eagles’ third play 70 yards to set up a 4-yard TD plunge by Anthony Neely for his first score of the season.

On the first play of Granite’s next drive, Johnson split the seam of the Ramona safeties, and Ostreng hit him in stride 15 yards downfield that Johnson turned into a 50-yard score and a 13-0 lead.

Ramona, which had only 26 yards in the first quarter, made it 13-7 on a 37-yard TD pass from Derek Diamond to Ace Jones at 8:21.

On the next play, Ostreng threw an interception that Ricky Colvin returned 30 yards, but the Bulldogs fumbled it right back to Granite Hills’ Jacob Nunez.

The Eagles then went on an insane 19-play, 88-yard drive that covered 8:05 to go up 20-7 when a scrambling Ostreng raced into the end zone from 4 yards.

Diamond finished 12-of-29 passing for 154 yards and two TDs to Jones.

Rutter’s TD reception put Granite up 27-7 early in the third quarter. Diamond found Jones again for a 32-yard TD to make it 27-14.

“We thought we had a really good game plan,” Cobbs said. “We did a real nice job in the first half.”

Lindgren is a freelance writer.

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