East County Sports

Stangs flip fortunes at Norse’s expense

Valhalla chases down Otay Ranch Friday night. / photo by Don De Mars




By Gene Yale

Special to EastCountySports.com


EL CAJON – The Otay Ranch football team was still smarting from a 14-13 loss to Steele Canyon a week earlier when they stepped off the bus Friday evening (Sept. 29) at Valhalla.

The host team was none too happy, either, after losing to Eastlake, Otay Ranch’s neighborhood rival.  It looked to be a pretty good matchup: two defense-oriented squads coming off of disappointing defeats.

However, it was the visitors who turned their spirits around with a 21-7 win.

Valhalla was unable to move the ball in its first possession, and, following the punt, the visiting Mustangs had good field position at their 42 yard line.

Valhalla and Otay Ranch grab and run Friday night in El Cajon. / photo by Don De Mars

On first down, a quick pass from junior quarterback Jonse “Puka” Stewart to senior tight end Darian Williams gained 9 yards to the Valhalla 49 yard-line.

On the next play, shifty senior running back Gus Espiritu turned the corner on a sweep left and jetted 41 yards to the Valhalla 8 yard line before senior defensive back BOBBY FIELDS drug him down.

The Norsemen defense tightened up on first down when senior defender TRISTAN ABBOD stopped the runner for a two yard gain.

On second down, sophomore KEGAN BAKER cut down senior running back Kelvin Bradley for no gain, but a Valhalla personal foul penalty put the ball on the 3 yard line.

Espiritu plowed into the end zone for a touchdown; senior kicker Kristian Salazar’s kick was true, giving Otay Ranch a 7-0 lead with 6:22 remaining in the first quarter.

Junior wide receiver KIARE WORTHY handled the ensuing kickoff at his 6 yard line, and quickly got his teammates motivated when he bobbed and weaved his way down the field to the Mustangs’ 30 yard line for a 64 yard kickoff return, giving the Valhalla offense a golden opportunity to knot the score.

A short pass from senior quarterback DENNIS DAHLIN to senior wide receiver JESAI BENNETT and a nifty 8 yard sprint by Dahlin put the Norsemen on the Otay Ranch 18 yard line with a first down.

After a delay penalty, wide receiver CONNOR BUCKLEY got open in the end zone, where Dahlin tossed a fade pass to his tall receiver who almost made a spectacular one-hand catch, but couldn’t pull it in.

Undeterred, Dahlin connected with DYLAN MARSH for a five yard gain, but an Otay Ranch personal foul on the play gave the home team a 1st and goal on the Mustangs’ 9 yard line.

On first down, senior running back TY SCHIMKE motored 5 yards to the 4 yard line.  Marsh was able to gain 1 yard, making it 3rd and goal from the 3 yard line.

Almost on cue, disaster struck.  A false start penalty cost the Norsemen 5 yards.

Valhalla junior Jesus Faraj (52) protects on a pass play Friday night. / photo by Don De Mars.

Then Dahlin was sacked by a furious Otay Ranch pass rush, resulting in 4th and goal from the 11 yard line.  This time, senior BRYAN MADRIZ worked his way wide-open in the left flat near the end zone.

Again subject to heavy pressure from the Mustangs’ defense, Dahlin’s pass was just out of reach.

Getting the ball back at their 11 yard line, the visitors were looking to duplicate their possession, but this time, the Valhalla “D” was ready for them.

On first down, defensive linemen JACE MANNING and JOSH McNISH-HEIDER crunched the ball carrier for a two yard loss.

On the next play, Schimke, now playing defensive back, broke up what looked like a sure reception downfield.  On 3rd down, Manning flushed the quarterback who had to throw the ball away.

Following the punt, Valhalla started at the Otay 43 yard line as the initial period ended.  On the first play of the second quarter, multi-talented Madriz, now playing quarterback, threw a dart to Bennett, who broke free and sprinted to the Mustangs’ 13 yard line for a 30 yard gain.

Once again the Rancho San Diego boys were in scoring position.  After three plays, Valhalla had picked up only 3 yards.  On 4th and 7 from the 10 yard line, quarterback Dahlin hooked up with Worthy for a reception to the 6 yard line, just short of the first down, giving the ball back to Otay Ranch near its goal line.

The South Bay team was able to put together a drive, moving from its 6 yard line to the Valhalla 24 yard line, where it was 3rd and 1.

Once again, Manning and McNish-Heider combined to squash the runner for no gain, bringing a 4th and 1 situation.

This time, Manning burst through the line like a (young) man possessed; before the quarterback could even react Manning drug him to the ground for an 8 yard loss, terminating the drive, and leaving it a 7-0 game at the intermission.

After the second half kickoff, Otay Ranch started at its 34 yard line.

Otay Ranch rushes against Valhalla Friday night. / photo by Don De Mars

Just like its opening possession of the first half, Otay marched quickly down the field, highlighted by a 35 yard pass to the Norsemen 3 yard line from Stewart to Williams.

On the next play, senior running back Sammy Paranada bulled into the end zone for a 3 yard TD run; the PAT was successful and the Mustangs increased their lead to 14-0 with 10:22 left in the third quarter.

As the 3rd quarter was winding down,  Valhalla got back in the game.

Starting at the visitors’ 43 yard line, an Otay personal foul penalty advanced the pigskin to the Otay 28.  On first down, Madriz lasered a shot to senior wide receiver MICHAEL BAZZI who squirmed his way to the 1 yard line.

After the stout Otay defensive line stuffed the runner for a 2 yard loss, Schimke cut left and dove into the end zone for a 3 yard TD run.  Junior kicker KYLE GRYGIEL’s kick was good, cutting the Otay Ranch lead to 14-7, as the third quarter ended.

Otay Ranch added another TD late in the 4th quarter when Stewart again found Williams along the sidelines with a deep pass that he carried to paydirt, putting the game out of reach 21-7 with only 3:17 left to play in the game.

Next week, Valhalla travels to Santee to face off with West Hills.


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