The bitter rivalry: Grossmont and Palomar

There will be no love lost on Saturday in the South County Bowl when the Grossmont Griffins and Palomar Comets go head to head. This match up renews a bitter rivalry between the two schools. Despite the fact that they haven't played one another since 1994 this game has the feel of a nasty year-to-year contest between division rivals.

The last game ended when the referees literally walked off of the field with over five minutes left in the game due to a lack of control.  There were two or three bench clearing brawls and the officials continually called offsetting penalties resulting in no penalty for either side.  The Griffins head coach, Dave Jordan, remembers the game well.  He doesn't anticipate anything quite that ugly happening this time around.  However, he acknowledges the bad blood between the two sides and is looking forward to stopping Palomar's streak against San Diego schools.   The Comets have not lost to a San Diego County school since 1988.

The Griffins come into this game with a 9-1 record ranked number 4 in Southern California and 7th in the nation by the JC Grid-Wire.  Their only loss came against Southern California's number 1 ranked Chaffey in triple overtime 43-35.  Palomar also comes in at 9-1 and are ranked number 3 in Southern California and 10th in the nation by the JC Grid-Wire.  The Comets only loss came against Mt. SAC 31-23.  The Comets are the Mission Conference champions.

Here are the matchups:

When Grossmont has the ball:

The offense is set up by way of the pass.  Quarterback Tanner Engstrand (6-1 180 SO), a first team All-Foothill Conference selection, will put pressure on the defense by taking chances downfield as well as running the football.  He was a 59.8% passer in the regular season throwing for 2492 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.  Engstrand was his team's fourth leading rusher with 150 yards on 51 carries and 5 TD's.  The Griffins do not rely on anyone more then their quarterback to get the offense moving.  The ball gets spread out very evenly to the backs and receivers making it difficult to isolate anyone to stop.  Tops in yardage for Grossmont were RB Michael Yancy with 532 yards rushing (5.3 ypc) and 2 TD's and Dontay Crowder 398 yards (8.3 ypc)and 5 TD's.  Receiving were Keith Robinson 415 yards (11.2) 2 TD's and Jeremy Bush 389 yards (15.0) 5 TD's.

Palomar on defense:

The Comets made their living with an opportunistic defense this season.  With 30 interceptions on the year they tied a Mission Conference record set in 1977 by Saddleback College.  Led by safeties Willie Tagoai (6 int's) and Shane Lancaster (5), and cornerback Brandon Bell (7) the Comets will try to create short fields for their offense.

When Palomar has the ball:

It's no secret that Palomar wants to run the ball.  They came within 24 yards of having two 1000-yard rushers this season.  Alex Thompson finished with 1023 yards (5.1) and 10 TD's while Chris Williams had 976 yards (5.9)and three TD's.   They use that running game to set up the pass where they also have the dangerous Eddie Sullivan.  He finished with 53-832 yards (15.7)and 10 TDs. 

Grossmont on defense:

The Griffins are stout against the run.  Led by LB John Castillo, they held the opposition to only 86 yards per game and a 2.4 yards per carry average.  However try to throw on them and they can create turnovers.  Maurice London, a freshman DB, picked of 7 passes this season and his counterpart Chanti Bloomer, also a freshman, intercepted 3 of his own including one returned for a touchdown.

Special teams:

Palomar's punter, Matt Kovacevich, averaged 40.1 yards per punt with a long of 65 yards.

Place kicker Ryan Lux was 23-28 on PAT's and 11-15 FG's with a long of 50 yards.

Grossomont's punter, John Warren, averaged 38.3 yards per punt with a long of 57 yards.

Place kicker Todd Watkins was 46-49 on PAT's and 10-11 FG's with a long of 54 yards.


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