East County Sports

Norsemen defense among county’s best

Valhalla senior quarterback BRYAN MADRIZ / photo by Don De Mars




By Ramon Scott



EL CAJON – The Valhalla Norsemen could still claim the title as the under-the-radar team in the East County, but ask any opposing coaching staff and they’ll tell you, matching up with this current rise of Orange Nation is no easy task.

The Norsemen may have been dinged up pretty hard by the graduation of several all-league defenders, but coach CHARLES BUSSEY (7th year, 39-30 overall) never starts a season without a healthy dose of returnees and re-enforcements these days.

The Valhalla program stands so strong these days that the team qualified for the Open Division playoffs last season as one of the eight top teams according to the section’s playoff formula.

Just like last year, a season-ending date with the Helix Highlanders could decide another Grossmont Hills League championship.

The Highlanders not only prevented the Norse from the league patch last season, but knocked them out of the postseason a week later.

Valhalla’s only other loss last season was at fellow Hills League foe Grossmont. The Norsemen get both the Foothillers and Highlanders at home on key late dates 2017.

First-team All-East County senior defensive end JOSHUA MCNISH-HEIDER (6-foot-2, 250) is one of the leading returning defensive stars in the area following his nine sacks and ridiculous 25 tackles for loss last season.

“I’m looking for ward to the competition with a lot of these guys that have big offers,” McNish-Heider said. “I just want to go out and do great stuff against them.”


Joining him on the defensive front is senior JACE MANNING (6-1, 210), who was a menace over the first half of the season before an injury sidelined him. He finished the season with eight sacks and was still recognized as an All-East County performer.

There’s still plenty of defense returning to go around with the likes of senior linebacker DYLAN MARSH, who had 61 tackles last season, including 43 solo, and six sacks

“We’re looking forward to winning as many games as possible and leading this team to a championship,” Marsh said.

Also, the Valhalla defense allowed just over 12 points per game last season.

Senior TY SCHIMKE is a likely two-way player with his work in the defensive backfield last season (45 tackles, two interceptions) and some spare time as a running back which endured him as the leading returning ground gainer.

Watch for new defender in the secondary BOBBY FIELDS, who transfers in from Mt. Carmel.

The biggest void to graduation comes on the offensive front, but three-year varsity anchor CASEY CASPER is there to hold the fort.

Valhalla likely has the deepest ranks at the most important position with quarterbacking veterans BRYAN MADRIZ and DENNIS DAHLIN.

The senior duo combined for over 1,750 yards last season and 15 touchdowns.

“We did lose a lot of seniors from last year, but I think we have a better heart,” Madriz said. “I feel like we can get a lot more accomplished.”

Who they will throw to is the question as senior COLE LEWIS, who caught a touchdown from Dahlin in a scrimmage Thursday night, had just four receptions last season and is the leading returner among the wideouts.

A likely target is 6-foot-3, 170-pound transfer JASAI BENNETT-USHER, who comes in from Steele Canyon.

McNish-Heider will also be a sure candidate from his tight end spot on offense this season.

Valhalla coach CHARLES BUSSEY holds the Jamacha Helmet.

The Norsemen have non-league home games against Scripps Ranch and Otay Ranch at home and a road contest at Eastlake.

Valhalla has Grossmont Conference tilts at Granite Hills and at Mount Miguel in weeks two and three, respectively.

Otay and Eastlake replace Mar Vista and Patrick Henry. Games which Valhalla outscored its opponent by a combined 102-0.

Valhalla allowed just two touchdowns over the first six games of 2016.

The battle for the Jamacha Helmet will take place at Steele Canyon this season. Valhalla has won the trophy for three-straight years.





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