Eastlake defense lowers boom on Saints
Losing a football game is one thing. Seeing your All-San Diego Section running back go down is an entirely different matter.
With his team behind by 21 points late in the first half, St. Augustine junior Elijah Preston gained eight yards rushing hard up the middle but did not get up. He was helped off the field, unable to put weight on his right ankle, and didn’t return.
“They told me it’s a sprain, it didn’t swell up much — I’m fine,” said Preston, walking with the aid of crutches.
Preston was a 1,000-yard rusher both his freshman and sophomore seasons and was sitting at 815 this season when he was injured.
Not that No. 10-ranked Eastlake (3-2) needed any help as the Titans dominated the first half en route to a 23-0 victory over No. 7 St. Augustine (2-3) Friday night at San Diego Mesa College.
The game was billed as a showdown between two of the most explosive running backs in the county, Eastlake’s Isaiah Strayhorn and Preston, each of whom averaged better than 150 yards a game.
Strayhorn certainly upheld his end of the bargain as he broke loose for a 50-yard TD scamper to open the scoring and added a touchdown run from 3 yards out to help give the Titans a three-TD lead at the break. He finished with 17 carries for 138 yards.
Meanwhile, Preston was having trouble gaining yards against the tough Titans defense, led by senior linebacker Ronnie Sallee, amassing only 47 on 15 carries.
In fact, the entire Saints offense could not get untracked, and Sallee ended up helping the Eastlake cause with a blocked punt that went out of the end zone for a safety.
“Sallee is one of the best linebackers in the county,” said Titans coach Lee Price. “He’s All-CIF, or I don’t know an All-CIF linebacker. I thought the defense (which forced three turnovers) was incredible.”
By game’s end, the Titans had held St. Augustine to 92 yards on the ground and just 99 yards passing.