East County Sports

Highlanders re-run victory over Valhalla

HELIX's EVAN PERKINS returns an interception Friday night against Valhalla. / photo by Antonio McIntyre




East County Sports.com staff report


LA MESA (11-19-16) — Seems like it didn’t sit well with the Valhalla football team when Helix outscored them 40-13 two weeks ago in the final game of the regular season. The Norsemen came to play Friday evening (Nov. 18) when they trekked to La Mesa to play the Highlanders in the first round of the Open Division CIF playoffs.



EZEKIEL NOA, of Helix, moves in on Valhalla Friday night. / photo by Antonio McIntyre

The Norsemen started the action at their 25-yard line after KYRIE POOLE ran back the opening kickoff 23 yards.  Senior ANTHONY PORTILLO carried the ball the first two offensive plays, gaining 4 yards on first down, and on second down broke free momentarily before senior free safety SCOTT YOUNG made a nice tackle to save a big gain, holding Portillo to a 3-yard advance.


Valhalla junior quarterback BRYAN MADRIZ threw a quick out-pass to Poole on third down, who was able to stretch to the 35-yard line for a first down before he was tackled by junior safety JAYDEN TAUANUU, giving the Norsemen a first down.


Successive false start penalties put the Valhalla offense into a pit of their own digging, but a 9-yard pass-catch from Madriz to senior wide receiver JACOB PAAPE provided a spark.


On 3rd and 10, Madriz was flushed by a furious Helix pass rush and scampered 11 yards for another first down at the Valhalla 46-yard line.  Madriz was shaken up on the play, giving way to Norseman junior quarterback DENNIS DAHLIN.



Helix’s CARSON BAKER scrambles against Valhalla Friday night. / photo by Antonio McIntyre

On second down at the Valhalla 48-yard line, Dahlin threw a perfect spiral deep down the right sideline to senior wide receiver BRANDON FULLER who had a step on the defender, but cornerback Young closed quickly, timed his leap perfectly, swatted the ball away and saved a touchdown.


On third down, junior cornerback RASHAD SCOTT and junior linebacker TYREECE TARRANT-PATANE sacked the quarterback for a 7-yard loss, ending the Valhalla drive.


Following the Valhalla punt, the Highlanders began their initial possession at their 25- yard line.  Eerily similar to the previous game two weeks earlier, on first down, hard-charging senior running back ZEKE NOA burst through the middle of the line and sprinted 27 yards before he was brought down by junior defensive backs CONNOR MOSER and TY SCHIMKE at the Norsemen 48-yard line.


Led by junior quarterback CARSON BAKER, the Highlanders moved deep into Valhalla territory to the 25-yard line before disaster reared its ugly head.


A holding penalty on first down moved the ball back to the 35.  On the next play, junior defensive end JOSH McNISH-HEIDER put it in high gear and sacked Baker for a 6-yard loss to the Valhalla 41-yard line.  On the next play, Baker completed a pass to Zeke Noa, but he was smothered by senior linebacker BRENT BURNETT and senior defensive back Portillo for a 5-yard loss to the Valhalla 46-yard line, where Helix had regressed from first down at the Norsemen 25 to third down at the 46.  The ensuing play didn’t go well either, with McNish-Heider flushing the quarterback and Schimke knocking the pass away from the receiver, forcing a punt to the Valhalla 10-yard line.


Speaking of disaster, it hung around a few minutes to pay a visit to the Norsemen.



EVAN PERKINS runs with the ball against Valhalla. / photo by Antonio McIntyre

On first down, junior nose guard ARTURO TORRES tipped Madriz’ pass into the waiting arms of Helix’ Scott, who returned the pick to the Valhalla 6-yard line, giving Helix the opportunity to light up the scoreboard.


On first down, Burnett stuffed the ball carrier for a 1-yard loss, but on the next play Baker scored from 7 yards out. Following senior kicker MATTHIAS LAYTON’s successful PAT, the hosts led 7-0 with only 22 seconds left in the first quarter.


Midway through the second period, and after forcing yet another Helix punt, Valhalla took over at its 2-yard line. On third down, an errant pass was intercepted by senior cornerback EVAN PERKINS, giving the Highlanders great field position, once again deep in Norsemen territory at the 15-yard line.


Moving quickly to a first down at the Valhalla 5-yard line, it looked like the home team was going to add to its lead; however, two dropped passes and an offensive penalty put the Highlanders at the Valhalla 9-yard line.



Helix defenders team up for a tackle Friday night. / photo by Antonio McIntyre

On 4th down, heavy pressure by McNish-Heider and junior linebacker DYLAN MARSH forced Baker to throw quickly to the corner of the end zone, but the receiver was out of bounds when he caught it, the incomplete pass turning the ball over on downs.


Helix got one more chance to put points on the board late in the second half  but a crushing quarterback sack by Valhalla senior linebacker JEROME JOHNSON and McNish-Heider put a squelch to that drive, as the first half ended with the score still 7-0.


Valhalla’s Paape kicked off to start the second half, booming the kick to the rear of the end zone.  On second down from the Helix 20, Zeke Noa put it in high gear and galloped 61 yards to the Valhalla 19-yard line, where he was finally tackled by Moser and fellow defensive back BRENNAN COX.


On the next play, Noa’s younger brother, freshman ELELYON “Fatto” NOA broke free for a 16-yard romp to the Valhalla 3-yard line.


The Norsemen defense made it interesting, however, when on successive plays, Burnett and then senior nose guard MIGUEL PEREZ flattened the runner for no gain.  On third down, Baker, once again under pressure, eluded the tacklers and tossed the pigskin to senior tight end JAYLON ARNOLD in the end zone for a touchdown.  Layton’s kick was true and Helix increased its lead to 14-0, with 10:08 remaining in the third quarter.



Ezekiel Noa carries Friday night against Valhalla in La Mesa. / photo by Antonio McIntyre

Valhalla mounted an offensive drive late in the third period, getting into Helix’ side of the field, but an intense pass rush forced two errant passes, killing the momentum.


At the start of the last period of play, Helix once again was deep into Valhalla territory, at the 29-yard line, but senior defensive lineman TYLER EASTLICK sacked the quarterback for a 9-yard loss.  Two plays later Valhalla took over on downs at its 31-yard line.


That thrill didn’t last long.


On first down, defensive back Perkins made Helix’ third interception of the game and returned it to the Norsemen 21-yard line.  Unfortunately, a block in the back penalty after the pick and an unsportsmanlike penalty cost the home team a whopping 57 yards, moving the ball all the way back to the Highlanders’ 22-yard line.


Mid-way through the 4th quarter, Valhalla’s offense was determined to get back in the game.


Starting at their 31-yard line, Madriz pitched the ball to Johnson, now playing running back.  Johnson ran right, pulled up, and lofted a pass to a streaking Fuller who hauled it in at the Helix 45-yard line for a 24-yard gain.  A pass interference penalty gave Valhalla a first down at the Highlanders’ 24-yard line, and an offside penalty on the next play put the pigskin at the 19-yard line.



EZEKIEL NOA carries against Valhalla. / photo by Antonio McIntyre

Johnson bulled his way to the 11-yard line for an 8-yard gain, giving the Norsemen a chance to score and make it a contest down to the wire.


On 3rd and goal from the 9, Madriz threw a bullet to Fuller in the end zone, but an alert Scott stepped in front of the receiver and intercepted his second pass, with less than three minutes remaining in the game, sealing the victory for the defending Open Division champions.


Helix was flagged 13 times with 112 yards in penalties.  Zeke Noa led all rushers with 135 yards in 11 carries.  The freshman sensation and younger brother Elelyon Noa was limited to 57 yards in 11 attempts, well below his 128 yards per game average.


Valhalla ended its season at 8-3, its only losses to Helix (twice) and Grossmont, the number 2 and 4 seeds in the Open Division.

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