East County Sports

Falcons close gap, Norse up to task

Valhalla wide receiver Matthew Bazzi makes a reception Friday night.




By Gene Yale



EL CAJON – The boys from Scripps Ranch took the long, slow rush-hour bus ride to Valhalla Friday evening (August 25), looking to avenge their 30-0 shellacking by the Norsemen in the opening game last season.


By the end of the first half, the game was in reach, with the visitors trailing 16-8, thanks to the home team’s gift of nine penalties that cost Valhalla 90 yards—14 more yards than the Falcons generated in the first two quarters of play.


Valhalla’s defense set the stage early.


Valhalla’s JASAI BENNETT is wrapped up by Scripps Ranch Friday night.

Following senior BRYAN MADRIZ’ booming kickoff to the end zone, senior linebacker DYLAN MARSH and sophomore sensation ETHAN FERKICH stuffed the ball carrier for a one-yard loss on first down.


On second down, JACE MANNING blew past the Falcons’ O-line and hurried the quarterback into hurling an incompletion.  Next, Manning and Ferkich lowered the boom on the running back, forcing Scripps Ranch to punt from their 18 yard-line.


The Norsemen started their first possession with excellent field position at their 46 yard-line.  After successive completions from senior quarterback DENNIS DAHLIN TO wide receiver JASAI BENNETT and to Madriz, Valhalla needed only ½ yard for a first down, in the Falcons’ territory, but the first of those nine first-half penalties resulted in having to punt the ball away.


Scripps Ranch started its next possession deep in its own side of the field, at the 19 yard line.  The Norsemen defense rose to the occasion.


On first down, COLE HOWARD stopped the runner in his tracks for a short gain.  Then, Marsh and senior defensive end JOSH McNISH-HEIDER harassed the quarterback into making a quick throw for a short completion, but defensive back BOBBY FIELDS and Howard brought the receiver down on the 23 yard-line, forcing a 3rd and 7 passing situation.


Valhalla QB DENNIS DAHLIN drops back Friday night.

McNish-Heider took advantage of that and sacked the quarterback for a 7 yard loss at the 16 yard-line.  An errant snap to the center sailed out of the end-zone on 4th down, giving the Norsemen a safety for a baseball-like score of 2-0, with 6:54 remaining in the initial period.


Later in the first quarter, Dahlin threw a 30 yard spiral to wide receiver MATTHEW BAZZI, who hauled it in at the Scripps 10 yard line, side-stepped the defender and cruised into the end zone for a touchdown.


Madriz’ kick was true, and the Norsemen upped their lead to 9-0, at the 3:05 mark of the first period.


Valhalla struck again early in the second stanza when Dahlin threw a backward pass to Madriz who spotted senior wide receiver COLE LEWIS streaking wide-open downfield, for a 32 yard pass-catch TD.


Once again, Madriz’ kick was good (4-4 PAT) and the Rancho San Diego lads led 16-0, with 11:20remaining until intermission.


The Norsemen had an opportunity to put the game away later in the second quarter when they had a 1st and 10 at the Falcons’ 23 yard-line.


Under a heavy rush, Dahlin escaped an almost certain quarterback sack, broke free from at least three defenders and sprinted down the left sideline to the Scripps Ranch 4 yard-line.  Alas, a personal foul penalty against the Norsemen harpooned that fine run, setting the ball on the 29 yard-line, which resulted eventually in turning the ball over on downs at the 25 yard-line.


With their backs against the wall and trailing 16-0, the Falcons put together a 12 play drive, aided by three key Valhalla defensive penalties, ending with a 7 yard pass for a touchdown, followed by a 2 point conversion.  With 4:49 left in the first half, Valhalla’s lead was trimmed to 16-8.


While halftime at high school football games usually is filled with music from the band, it’s likely that Valhalla coach CHARLES BUSSEY wasn’t serenading his penalty-plagued troops at halftime.


Whatever the conversation in the locker-room, the home team settled in during the second half.  The opening play by Valhalla resulted in a 41 yard romp by TY SCHIMKE to the Falcons’ 18 yard line.


Unable to penetrate further than the Scripps Ranch 13 yard-line, the Norsemen settled for a 30 yard Madriz field goal, increasing the lead to 19-8 with 10:04 left in the third quarter.  There had been some concern at Valhalla when kicker JACOB PAAPE graduated, but Madriz’ strong leg has put those fears to rest.


On the Falcons’ next series, sophomore linebacker KEGAN BAKER buried the runner with a crushing tackle-for-loss on 3rd and 2, forcing yet another punt.


Still in the third period, Scripps was able to capitalize on a muffed punt that it recovered at the Valhalla 24 yard-line.  Three plays later, the Falcons scored on a 13 yard TD pass.  The 2 point conversion attempted pass was defensed by Ferkich, but the visitors had narrowed the lead to 19-14, with almost 5 minutes left in the quarter.


Undeterred, Valhalla didn’t rest on its laurels.  On second down from the Norsemen 43 yard line, Dahlin perfectly executed a screen pass to Schimke, who kicked in the afterburners and raced unmolested down the right sideline for a 57 yard TD, making it 26-14 with 4 minutes still to play in the third quarter.


Valhalla put the hammer down and put the game away after the ensuing kickoff.  Starting at their own 20 after Madriz boomed the kickoff into the end zone, disaster struck the Falcons.


On first down, Baker tackled the runner for a 1 yard loss.  On the next play, Ferkich sacked the quarterback for a 9 yard loss.  On third down, facing a furious rush, the quarterback fumbled the ball, but managed to recover it, forcing yet another punt.  This time, Schimke scooped up the punt at the Scripps 37 and ran it to the house for another touchdown, giving the Norsemen a 33-14 lead, with just under 3 minutes to play in the third quarter.


Scripps managed to score a meaningless TD late in the 4th quarter, to make the final score 33-20.


For Valhalla, Dahlin was 12-24-2 for 175 yards and 2 TDs; Madriz was 3-6-0 for 65 yards and a touchdown, plus 4 extra points and a field goal.  Schimke contributed 157 total yards and 2 TDs.

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