East County Sports

Norsemen end stalemate with explosive second half

By Gene Yale
© East County Sports.com
EL CAJON (10-17-15) — It was rock ‘em, sock ‘em football Friday evening (Oct. 16) when El Capitan — and the rain — tried to spoil Valhalla’s homecoming.  The rain let up a few minutes before the game started, but not the Vaqueros.  EC at VAL Score

Senior quarterback PHILLIP NASEH (201 yards passing) marched the Norsemen quickly down the field to El Capitan’s 26-yard line on the home team’s initial possession, aided by a 30-yard bomb to senior wide receiver CONNOR CHAMBERLAIN and a couple of darts to junior wide receiver BRANDON FULLER.

The El Capitan defense then went to work.  On 2nd and 5 from the Vaquero 26, junior linebacker DYLAN HELMHOLTZ put a fierce rush on Naseh, who soft-tossed to an open running back, but the wet pigskin slipped through his hands for an incompletion.

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On 3rd down, junior linebacker OSCAR VALENZUELA nearly sacked the quarterback, forcing a hurried throw that fell incomplete.

Valhalla went for it on 4th down; this time Naseh’s throw was on the mark and the receiver was open, but once again, the ball slipped through the receiver’s hands, turning the ball over on downs.

Just as the Vaquero’s defense rose to the occasion, so did the Norsemen.  Starting from their 27, the Vaqueros didn’t fare well.

On first down, senior linebackers LOGAN BAKER and TREY SCHIMKE smothered the ball carrier for a 1-yard loss.

On second down, junior quarterback PHOENIX CATES completed a short pass, but the receiver was rudely introduced to senior linebacker CADE BAKER and his no-relation counterpart Logan Baker, losing ground again.

On 3rd and 12, sophomore defensive end JOSH McNISH-HEIDER swatted the quarterback’s arm and the ball, causing the first of many three-and-out offensive series for the visitors.

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Following the punt, Valhalla started with good field position at El Cap’s 45 yard line.  On first down, Naseh took up where he left off the previous possession —with a 34 yard pass/catch/run with Chamberlain to the Vaqueros’ 11-yard line.  And, once again, the Vaqueros’ defense stiffened; the Norsemen had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Chamberlain, giving Valhalla the early lead, 3-0, with 7:25 remaining in the first quarter.

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Both defenses were tough the rest of the first half with neither team able to score.  Valhalla’s Law Firm Defense was dominant, as it has been so far this season.

El Capitan managed only one first down in the first half — and that was on a fake punt from the Vaqueros’ 28-yard line for a 39-yard gain to the Norsemen 37 in the second stanza; back-to-back quarterback sacks, first by Bender, and then by the combination of senior linebacker LUCAS WALZ and his counterpart Cade Baker.

The halftime fireworks continued into the second half for the Norsemen, when offensive coordinator COLLIN EARDLEY called his own trick play—a lateral from Naseh to Fuller in the right flat, who quickly threw a spiral downfield to Bender, now playing tight end, who was wide open and cruised into the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown.  Chamberlain’s PAT (2-2) was true, and Valhalla increased its lead to 10-0 at the 5:49 mark of the third quarter.

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Late in the third quarter, Naseh hooked up with wide receiver JORDAN ELLIS for a 33-yard gain to the El Cap 16-yard line.

Three plays later, after a Valhalla penalty, fullback BRENT BURNETT and offensive lineman TYLER EASTLICK paved the way for junior running back JEROME JOHNSON to plow his way 11 yards to the 4-yard line, where he scored on the next play, following lineman RYAN BURKE into the endzone, padding the lead to 17-0, with 2:24 left in the third period.

Mid-way through the 4th quarter, El Cap was desperately trying to get something going on offense, having been limited to one first down in each half.  On 3rdand 9 from his 17-yard line, Cates dropped back to pass when Bender, back at defensive end, batted the ball up in the air, jumped up, intercepted it and made a beeline for the end zone, trying to score his second TD of the game, but the ball popped loose; Walz fell on it at the 1- yard line, setting up Valhalla for another score.  Johnson waltzed into the end zone on first down, making it 24-0, with 4:44 left to play.

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Late in the game, and with victory assured, Naseh showed why he’s popular with his teammates.

After a holding penalty left Valhalla with a 3rd and 17 at the El Cap 40, Naseh went back to pass; nearly sacked, he broke free, ran to the line of scrimmage, clawed his way through three would-be tacklers and sprinted 10 more yards before he was finally brought down.

Helmholtz, Valenzuela and sophomore linebacker CHRIS McDONOUGH combined for two sacks for the Vaqueros, but the story once again was Valhalla’s Law Firm defense:  8 quarterback sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions and 4 turnovers.

For the fourth time this season, the Law Firm defense held the opposition’s running game to negative yardage (minus 15 yards in 33 attempts), and held the opposition’s total offense to less than 100 yards, also for the fourth time this season.  To date, the Norsemen have 33 sacks in 7 games.

For a FULL GAME REPLAY from Valhalla’s OrangeNationTV click here


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