East County Sports

Norsemen fend off Foothillers to solidify seeding

By Gene Yale

© East County Sports.com

EL CAJON (11-7-15) — What happens when an explosive offense meets an exploding defense?


Fireworks—that’s what. . . And fireworks it was Friday evening (Nov. 6) at Valhalla when Grossmont’s high-flying passing and rushing attack squared off against Valhalla’s stingy Law Firm defense, with the Norsemen prevailing, 32-21.  G at VAL Score


Both teams needed the victory to obtain the best playoff seeding in their respective divisions.  Prior to the contest, Grossmont had the opportunity to get as high as the number four seed in the Open Division, and Valhalla was holding down the first seed in Division II.


Both teams came out swinging at the bell. On Valhalla’s opening possession, an accurate third down pass from senior quarterback PHILLIP NASEH connected with the receiver for an apparent first down near midfield when junior defensive back RILEY HAVIRD jarred the ball loose, forcing the first of ten Norsemen punts.


The Foothillers put it into high gear immediately.  After a first down pickup at their 26-yard line, senior wide receiver KYLE PINEDA took off on a fly sweep for a 31-yard gain to the Valhalla 43-yard line.


Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 2.19.41 AMTwo plays later, junior quarterback HUNTER GAINES hooked up with senior wide receiver KHALEED DAVIS for a 14-yard gain to the Valhalla 28-yard line, but a jarring tackle by senior defensive back JORDAN ELLIS popped the ball loose where it was smothered by senior linebacker CADE BAKER, the first of seven turnovers forced by the home team.


Halfway through the initial period, Valhalla put together a sustained 15-play drive that successfully ended when senior running back RAHSHAUN SHARPE followed the block of senior offensive lineman RYAN BURKE 5 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.  An errant snap doomed the PAT, but the Norsemen grabbed the early lead, 6-0, with 1:05 left in the first quarter.


Grossmont’s next offensive series didn’t go well.  Valhalla’s Ellis cut in front of the ‘Hiller receiver at Grossmont’s 39-yard line, intercepted the pass, and sprinted 39 yards to paydirt as the first quarter came to a close; the PAT was wide right, and the Norsemen led 12-0.


The Foothillers didn’t exactly roll over and play dead when faced with this adversity.  Instead, quarterback HUNTER GAINES marched his charges down the field, duplicating Valhalla’s 15-play drive earlier.Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 2.19.22 AM


When junior wide receiver DOMONIQUE GUEVARA snagged his first of three touchdown passes, this one from 2 yards out, and after senior placekicker BRITTNAY HUFF split the uprights, it was 12-7, with 7:38 remaining until intermission.  The rest of the second quarter was spent trading interceptions.


Grossmont’s Havird and JOSH McFAUL each had picks, as did Valhalla’s DANTE CARNESSALE and ANTHONY PORTILLO.


The second half did not start well for the ‘Hillers.  After senior defensive end DANIEL BENDER pressured the quarterback into throwing away the ball on first down, senior linebacker TREY SCHIMKE intercepted on the next play and raced down the sideline 22 yards for another Norsemen TD.


Once again, Valhalla was unable to convert the 2 point conversion attempt, but did increase its lead to 18-7 just 14 seconds into the third quarter.


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Don De Mars Photography

Late in the third stanza, Grossmont got down to business – in a big way. On 3rd and 13 from his 12-yard line,  Gaines threw a perfect spiral to Guevara as the speedster glided into open territory for an 88-yard touchdown.  The visitors’ 2-point conversion failed, making it 18-13 at the 1:38 mark of the third quarter.


A few minutes later, Gaines and Guevara repeated that trick, this time for a 75 yard TD.  On the 2-point conversion attempt, Gaines found sophomore wide receiver JAILEN BAILEY in the end zone and Grossmont gained both the momentum and the lead, 21-18, with 8:52 left in the game.


The momentum didn’t last.  Two minutes later, Naseh threw a perfect spiral to Ellis, now playing wide receiver, who took it in stride 33 yards to the end zone.  This time, CONOR CHAMBERLAIN’s PAT kick was good; Valhalla regained the lead 25-21 at the 6:10 mark.

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Remember that exploding defense?  It did just that – on Grossmont’s next offensive series.  On first down at the ‘Hillers’ 30-yard line, Bender blew past the blockers, chased Gaines out of the pocket, wrapped him up 16 yards behind the line of scrimmage, allowing Cade Baker to knock the ball loose and recover it for Valhalla at the Grossmont 14-yard line.


After junior running back JEROME JOHNSON rumbled 13 yards to the 1 yard line, Naseh ran it in for the TD, and, after Chamberlain converted the PAT, Valhalla (8-2) put the game out of reach, 32-21.

For Grossmont (7-3), Gaines, senior quarterback JARED REDFIELD and senior quarterback MICHAEL LOCKHART combined were 23-58-5 passing for 318 yards and 3 TDs, with 163 of those yards and two TDs on the two long bombs from Gaines to Guevara.

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Valhalla limited Grossmont runners to 27 yards on 22 carries.  The Law Firm defense – and it’s a big firm – Baker, Bender, Yohe, McNish-Heider,  Schimke, Burnett, Walz, Ellis, Carnessale, Meier, Portillo, LOGAN BAKER and Cade Baker (you can’t have too many Bakers), along with many associates – in addition to its 5 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles,  and 2 fumble recoveries, managed to sack the quarterbacks 4 times and had 11 tackles for loss.


The boys from both teams came to play – and what a battle it was.

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