East County Sports

Norsemen want to finish final chapter




By Ramon Scott



EL CAJON – Only one loss separated the Valhalla Norsemen from the Grossmont Valley League title last season.

But considering the Norsemen fight for the league championship with No. 1 Helix, this returning group of Norsemen are likely a little more steamed about being upset at home by Mt. Carmel  in last year’s Division 2 semifinals.

Valhalla, which has never won a CIF title in football in 42 years of existence, was the top-seed in the division. This year, however, the Norsemen have been promoted to the very tough Div. 1.

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Valhalla coach CHARLES BUSSEY

The Norsemen have some big shoes to fill from graduation and have just eight returning starters, but coach CHARLES BUSSEY (31-27 career record at Valhalla) is confident that the program he has put in place, along with a veteran offensive front, should lead to another successful regular season following a 9-3 overall record last year.

Senior TY EASTLICK, a 6-foot, 210-pound second team All-East County OL selection from 2015, leads this year’s returning group of linemen. He is beginning his third year on the varsity and also plays on the defensive front at tackle.

“It’s a fresh take on our whole team,” Eastlick said. “We’re coached a little bit different, the plays are a little bit different. Everything is new, so hopefully it will pay off.

Joining Eastlick are seniors JAKE SINES (6-6, 260), JACOB SMITH and JONATHAN WASHAM, along with junior CASEY CASPER (6-0, 225).

To help stabilize a transitioning passing game, senior running back JEROME JOHNSON (6-0, 215) returns for his third year in the backfield. He also doubles as a linebacker. Arizona and Portland State have inquired about Johnson, according to Bussey.

After leading the team as a sophomore with 820 yards and 11 touchdowns, Johnson shared the ball carrying duties last season pretty much right-down-the-middle, finishing with 638 yards and 10 touchdowns, while also catching 11 passes, including one for a score. A 1,000-yard season in 2016 will not be out of the question for the all-Valley honorable mention selection from last year.

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Bussey is apparently considering between quarterbacks BRYAN MADRIZ and DENNIS DAHLIN, who played at Monte Vista last season.

Dahlin threw for 503 yards last season in the run-oriented Monarchs offense, while Madriz, a left-hander, threw for 700 yards and eight touchdowns while rushing for 250 yards on the junior varsity in 2016 and is also a talented kicker with a soccer background.

Valhalla lost in the semifinals of the South County Passing League over the summer.

Senior WR/DB BRANDON FULLER (6-1, 170) returns after catching 31 passes last season for 381 yards and three touchdowns, along with junior WR/DB CONNOR MOSER 6-0, 175), who hauled in 15 passes, including a touchdown.

Leading a defense that allowed just a notch more than 14 points-per-game last season is senior DL/TE JOSH MCNISH-HEIDER (6-2, 230), an honorable mention all-Valley choice last season. The three-year starter had 47 tackles, including 25 for loss, which ranked fourth in the East County, with four sacks last season.

Senior DB/WR ANTHONY PORTILLO (6-0, 180) returns, as well, following a season in which he had 39 tackles and two interceptions. He played in an international all-star game in Dallas back in Feb. and is attracting college recruiters, including Nevada and San Jose State, as well as several D2 and NAIA schools, according to Bussey.

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 11.40.25 PMReturning senior starter BRENT BURNETT (5-11, 215)  leads the linebacking corps, along with fellow senior JOSH HERNANDEZ.

“I think we’re going to have a great season,” Burnett said. We’ve got a lot of new players, but we’re all putting in and we’re going to pay off.”

Defensive newcomers include juniors DYLAN MARSH (LB) and JACE MANNING (DL), along with seniors MILES PANZARELLA (LB) and BRENDAN COX (DB).

Senior JACOB PAAPE is expected to handle both punting and kicking duties. He is also a WR on offense.

Other new wideouts are seniors KHYREE POOLE, DANNY MADARA and BOSTON THOMAS.

New two-way performers include senior lineman MIGUEL PEREZ and junior DB/RB TYLER SCHIMKE.

Valhalla’s non-league home schedule includes Granite Hills, Mount Miguel and Patrick Henry.


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