East County Sports

Norsemen easily turn away old rival Eagles

Valhalla wraps up Granite Hills' Tyler Gonzalez Friday night / photo by Don De Mars Photography




© East County Sports.com staff report


EL CAJON (9-3-16) — Pads were popping and tempers were flaring Friday evening (Sept. 2) when Valhalla hosted cross-town rival Granite Hills.  Both teams had strong defensive performances the previous week, but the Norsemen had too much horsepower (perhaps it was Norsepower) for the Eagles, drubbing the visitors 37-7.

Following the opening kickoff, Valhalla started at its 22-yard line, but it didn’t stay in that neighborhood very long.

Junior quarterback BRYAN MADRIZ found senior wide receiver BRANDON FULLER open for a 16-yard gain to the Norsemen 42-yard line.

On the next play, senior slot back BOSTYN THOMAS popped free for a 17-yard run to the Eagles’ 41.  On second down, Madriz threw a dart to senior wide receiver/kicker JACOB PAAPE for 16 more yards to the 27-yard line.

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Valhalla’s Josh McNish-Heider tackles a Granite Hills ball carrier Friday night.

Before the reeling Eagles’ defense could recover, Madriz rolled to his right on the next play and lofted a spiral to a streaking Thomas, who took the pass in full stride into the end zone for the first score of the game.  The PAT was wide right, but Valhalla led 6-0 less than 3 minutes into the game.

After Paape boomed the ensuing kickoff (5-of-6 for touchbacks) into the end zone, junior quarterback JAKE SIEGFRIED tried to get the Granite offense in gear, starting at their 20- yard line.

Things didn’t go well.

Siegfried was flushed from the pocket on first down by senior linebacker JOSH HERNANDEZ into the waiting arms of senior defensive back ANTHONY PORTILLO for no gain.  On second down, junior defensive lineman JOSH McNISH-HEIDER flattened the ball carrier for a 3-yard loss.

Undeterred, Siegfried threw a strike downfield to senior wide receiver GUSTAVO GUTIERREZ for what looked like a first down, but at the last second, the ball was knocked away by Valhalla’s senior defensive back BRENNAN COX, forcing a punt.

Trying to extend its lead early, Valhalla began its next offensive series at its 47-yard line.

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Valhalla’s JACOB PAAPE goes up for a reception Friday night.

On first down, hard charging JEROME JOHNSON followed his blockers (JACOB SMITH, TYLER EASTLICK, CASEY CASPER, JON WASHAM and JAKE SINES) up the middle for a 7-yard gain.

The home team quickly advanced to the Eagles’ 37-yard line, but the drive fizzled when junior defensive lineman TYLER GONZALEZ sacked the quarterback for a 5-yard loss, forcing a punt, which was downed at the Granite 8 yard line.

Bad field position and back-to-back sacks by Valhalla’s McNish-Heider and junior linebacker JACE MANNING, followed by an incomplete pass under heavy pressure by Hernandez, was a recipe for disaster.

Senior kicker BRYCE STRICKLAND lined up to punt the football, but a bad snap took away that opportunity; Strickland made a valiant effort to find a receiver for a desperation pass, but it fell incomplete—and Valhalla took over at the Eagles’ 9 yard line.

From there, it was all Johnson; three quick running plays culminated in a touchdown.  This time, Paape’s (3-4) aim was clear and the Norsemen led 13-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Granite Hills got some momentum going in the second period when senior defensive back BRENDEN QUILL picked off an errant pass at the Eagles’ 31-yard line and returned it 17 yards to the 48-yard line, giving his offense good field position for the first time in the game.

This time, Siegfried worked the ground game by scampering 14 yards to the Valhalla 33-yard line.

Two plays later, senior running back KOLLIN MENZIES burst through the middle for a 15-yard gain to the Valhalla 14, and six plays later Siegfried bulled into the end zone from 1-yard out.  Strickland supplied the PAT, cutting Valhalla’s lead to 13-7, with 3:45 remaining until intermission.

Valhalla put the last three minutes of the first half to good use.

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Starting at the 20-yard line after the kickoff, on second down, Madriz heaved a bomb to Paape deep on the left sideline for a 36-yard pickup to the Eagles’ 41.

After a false start moved them back to the 46, Madriz and senior DJ MADARA connected on back-to-back passes to the 30-yard line.

Then it was Johnson time:  the burly back plowed for 17 yards to the visitors’ 13-yard line, then to the 6, and then the 2, and finally into the end zone for his second rushing TD of the evening, only 52 seconds before halftime, upping the lead to 20-7.

Neither team could generate much offense in the third quarter until Granite Hills started a drive at its 5-yard line late in the period.  A 22-yard jaunt by Menzies got the troops out to the 32-yard line and some breathing room.  A Norsemen personal foul penalty and a nifty 14-yard run by Siegfried enabled the lads from east El Cajon to get to Valhalla’s 18-yard line, but the quest to close the scoring gap fizzled when Valhalla’s Portillo intercepted a pass at the 10-yard line and returned it 35 yards to the Norsemen 45-yard line as the period wound down.

As the fourth quarter opened, Madriz sprinted 11 yards to the Eagles’ 34, sprung by a downfield block by wide receiver Fuller where he was driven out of bounds – and then some.  The resultant personal foul penalty placed the pigskin at the 19-yard line.

On the next play, Madriz thanked Fuller for the great block by lofting a fade pass to him on the right side line, enabling the speedy receiver to dance into the end zone, giving the Norsemen a commanding lead, 27-7, only 18 seconds into the last period.

Of course, the night before, the San Diego Chargers thought they had a commanding lead early in the 4th quarter against San Francisco, but they were wrong.

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Valhalla’s JEROME JOHNSON carries against Granite Hills Friday night.

That gave the Eagles some hope that they could snatch victory from defeat.  Starting at their 20-yard line, those hopes were quickly dashed.

Manning and senior linebacker BRENT BURNETT smothered the ball carrier for a 4-yard loss on first down.  On the next play, junior linebacker DYLAN MARSH, who had a safety the previous week when he tackled the ball carrier in the end zone at Scripps Ranch, sacked the quarterback for another 4- yard loss.

Valhalla scored again on its next possession when Paape converted a 26-yard field goal, and scored again late after Johnson picked off an errant pass and returned it 42 yards near midfield.

After junior slot back TYLER SCHIMKE ripped off a 25-yard run to the Granite 33 yard line, a double-personal foul penalty moved the ball even further, to the Eagles’ 9 yard line, as those tempers flared.  Senior slot back KHYREE POOLE scored on a 9 yard reverse.  This time, AHMAD YUSOF kicked the PAT to end the scoring, 37-7.

Six Eagles contributed to 110 yards rushing. Menzies led the attack with 40 yards on 11 carries. Siegfried rushed for 27 yards on eight carries and accounted for Granite Hills’ only touchdown. Siegfried also completed 8 of 21 passes for 74 yards but suffered two interceptions in the process.

The Norsemen offense generated 368 yards.  Madriz was very efficient (14-20-1, 178 yards, 2 TDs), as was Johnson, on the ground (17 carries, 83 yards, 2 TDs), and the Valhalla defense was equally efficient, limiting the Eagles to 175 total yards.

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