SAN DIEGO — Helix Coach Jim Arnaiz and San Dieguito Coach Ed Burke are faced with similar teams this season: young, but talented.
Although tonight's 7:30 p.m. game at Helix is the first meeting between the two schools, Burke will be trying for his first win in three tries against Arnaiz. Helix defeated Torrey Pines twice while Burke was coach.
San Dieguito returned just two starters each on offense and defense this season, while Helix returned three on defense.
The youth and inexperience has shown in San Dieguito's offense and Helix's defense in two games this season.
San Dieguito's defense, however, appears as strong as last season's. Which should be no surprise considering the quality of the two returnees.
Linebacker Kelly Hockey was the Palomar League's defensive player of the year last season as a junior, and nose guard Tom Pellegrino was a first-team all-league selection as a sophomore.
The San Dieguito defense held Granite Hills to a field goal in its first game, and last week's 34-22 victory over Patrick Henry was deceiving. Patrick Henry's first touchdown was scored on an interception return and the other two were against the Mustangs' second-string defense in the fourth quarter.
In two victories, San Dieguito's defense has, for all intents and purposes, allowed five points--a field goal and a two-point conversion.
Helix (2-0) has had similar success with its offense.
Quarterback Tim Zeddies and Spike Mitchell have led a strong running attack. Zeddies has scored four touchdowns, and Mitchell, a junior, is averaging 103.5 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry.
Where the two teams are succeeding, they are conversely having troubles.
San Dieguito has had trouble moving the ball. It scored 10 points in its season opener and 34 last week against Patrick Henry. In that game, however, three of the touchdowns resulted from drives starting inside the opponent's 30-yard line.
"We've been plugging away, making mistakes offensively," Burke said. "With only two returners on offense, we've got nine guys who need to learn what to do in a hurry.
"Our key is going to be whether our offense can generate some drives," Burke said. "The inconsistency we've had, I don't think we can afford to have against Helix."
Arnaiz has built one of the strongest programs in the county, and usually the foundation is on defense. But this season, the Highlanders have had their problems.
With four starters sidelined with injuries, Helix allowed 21 points to Valhalla's passing attack. Valhalla had taken a 14-0 lead in the first quarter before Helix's offense was able to catch up.
"To be any real kind of contender, our defense has to come alive pretty soon," Arnaiz said. "Because our defense is young, I think we have to control the tempo of the game offensively."
BIG GAME FACTS
Who: No. 8 Helix vs. No. 9 San Dieguito.
Where: Helix High School.
When: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Helix 2-0; San Dieguito 2-0.
Players to watch: Helix: Tim Zeddies (5-11, 175), QB; Spike Mitchell (5-9, 205), RB; Mike Murphy (5-11, 210), LB. San Dieguito: Kelly Hockey (5-10, 195), LB; Tom Pellegrino (5-10, 185), NG; Brett Ward (5-11, 165), QB.