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Titanic Upset: Poway Beats Helix 21-7, Advances to CIF Championship Game

Highlander QB is sacked nine times; Titans overturn predictions in defeating state Div. II champs.

After it was over—and Poway players gathered near midfield to hear coach Damian Gonzalez say, “Hey, we gotta keep this thing going”—linebacker coach Bill Williams urged the Titans to chant away their frustrations.

“U-T,” yelled Williams.  “Wrong!” replied the players in cadence. “U-T wrong! U-T wrong!”

The U-T San Diego forecast: Helix 17, Poway 14.

The actual score: Poway 21, Helix 7.

Scoring three touchdowns in the first half but none in the second, Poway used a pressure defense, sacking QB Josh Harris nine times, to upset Helix Charter High School on Friday night and advance to the CIF Division II championship game against Oceanside, which slipped by Valhalla 31-28.

Nehemiah Gross, who made an interception* for the Titans along with Derek Babiash, told U-T San Diego: “This was a huge win for us. We’ve been looking forward to this game since last year because a lot of people see us as two of the best teams in the county.”

Poway senior linebacker Max Michaels was quoted as saying: “We wanted to dominate on defense and I think we did. When you hold a team like Helix down—like we did in the first half—that’s saying something.”

Poway was the CIF Division I champion a year ago, and thus beat the defending Division II CIF and state bowl champion. Troy Starr’s Highlanders ended the season at 10-1 after Cathedral Catholic forfeited an early season victory over Helix.

*Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly cited two interceptions for Nehemiah Gross.

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