East County Sports

Wolf Pack finally prevail over Norse

West Hills' Jake Maheu (46) fakes a handoff with quarterback Jordan Young. / photo by Don De Mars




By Gene Yale

Special to EastCountySports.com


SANTEE – The fans at West Hills were treated to an exciting, hard-fought football contest between two evenly-matched teams Friday evening (Oct. 6), when the Valhalla Norsemen came to do battle in Santee. For the hometown fans, it turned into a bluegrass festival at their two-tone blue field as the Wolf Pack edged their Rancho San Diego rivals, 24-21.

A Valhalla player goes up for the ball Friday night. / photo by Don De Mars

The home team won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. Junior kicker JACK BROWNING boomed the opening kickoff into the end zone, preventing speedy returner KIARE WORTHY from duplicating his 64-yard kickoff return against Otay Ranch last week.

After running back TY SCHIMKE advanced the ball to the Valhalla 26 yard line, on 3rd down, senior quarterback BRYAN MADRIZ threw a quick pass to Worthy at the 29 yard line, but an excellent tackle by now-defensive back Browning stopped the receiver in his tracks and Valhalla had to punt, giving West Hills good field position at the Wolf Pack 45.

Junior quarterback JORDIN YOUNG repeatedly probed the middle of the Valhalla defense, handing off to his talented running backs AUSTIN DILL and sophomore JAKE MAHEAU.

This strategy seemed to work as the Pack marched quickly to the Valhalla 30. Then Young showed some good moves to scamper to the Norsemen 19 yard line for an 11 yard gain.

Running Back AUSTIN PEAT then barreled to the 15. On 3rd and 2 from the 11, Young was unable to convert as he was smothered by linebacker DYLAN MARSH and defensive lineman JEMI KANDELYAN at the 10-yard line.

Faced with a 4 and 1 situation, West Hills head coach CASEY ASH rolled the dice; with a quick snap, Young surged forward for a one-yard gain to the 9, earning a 1st and goal.

On the next play, defensive players COLE HOWARD and JOHNNY KOREL lit up the runner, stuffing him for a 3-yard loss to the 12-yard line.

With a change of strategy, Young rolled left and connected with junior wide receiver HUNTER GAUTHIER for a touchdown, capping a 13 play drive that took more than six minutes off the clock. Senior placekicker CADE WEAVER’s kick was true; West Hills led 7-0, with 4:05 left in the first period.

The visitors started their next possession again at their 20-yard line, after another of Browning’s kicks landed in the end zone.

Valhalla tackles a West Hills carrier Friday night. / photo by Don De Mars

This time, Valhalla got its offense in gear.

Three nifty runs by Schimke and a timely pass from Madriz to wide receiver CONNOR BUCKLEY put the pigskin in West Hills territory, at the 48-yard line. Then sophomore fullback KEGAN BAKER broke a tackle and surged for a 6 yard gain to the 42.

On 3rd and 2 from the 40, Baker sprinted 19 yards to the Pack 21 yard line before senior cornerback NOAH QUIGLEY was able to bring him down.

Baker took off again on the next play, breaking tackles to the 13-yard line for an 8 yard gain, where defensive back BRYCEN WILLIAMS made a shoe-string tackle.

As the quarter ended, Valhalla was threatening with a 1st and 10 at the West Hills 11 yard line. The first play of the second quarter was all it took for the Norsemen to knot the score.

Madriz rolled left and threw a soft toss to Cole Howard, streaking to pay dirt for an 11 yard TD. Junior kicker ZACK PERNICANO’S kick was good, and the score was tied 7-7 with 11:53 left in the first half.

Thanks to a fired-up Valhalla defense, West Hills went backward on its next possession.

Following the kickoff, the Pack started at its 37-yard line. On first down, defensive linemen JACE MANNING and JESUS FELIX bluntly stopped the runner for no gain.

On the next play, DYLAN MARSH and JOSH McNISH-HEIDER stuffed the ball carrier for a 1-yard loss. And, on 3rd and 11 from the West Hills 36, defender TRISTAN ABBOD sacked the quarterback for a 4-yard loss, forcing a punt. Schimke returned the punt 13 yards to the Valhalla 43, giving his team good field position and an opportunity to take the lead.

This time, it was the Wolf Pack defense’s turn to get fired-up.

On first down, defensive lineman GIANNI GRIMM tackled the runner for no gain. On second down, senior defensive end JAKE HALLAHAN flattened the ball carrier for a 1-yard loss to the Norsemen 42.

Valhalla rushes against West Hills Friday night. / photo by Don De Mars

Facing a 3rd and 11, Madriz teamed up with senior wide receiver JESAI BENNETT for a 17 yard gain to the West Hills 41 yard line, where it took four defenders to bring him down, led by Dill and senior linebacker ZACH BELL.

On the next play, threw a quick swing pass to Worthy in the right flat for a 14 yard gain to the 27-yard line. On the following two plays, Valhalla’s offensive line — CASEY CASPER, AUSTIN SCRIBNER, BRANDON GARZA, ANDREW ATTO, and Abbod — opened some large holes for junior running back ELIJAHWAN PHILLIPS to run through, picking up another 13 yards to the 14-yard line.

An offside penalty advanced the line to the 9-yard line. Madriz and Bennett hooked up again for what looked like a sure TD reception, but a good tackle by senior linebacker JARED HUDSON stopped the gain at the 4-yard line.

Valhalla advanced to the 2-yard line, but a false start penalty yanked them back to the 7, where it was 3rd and goal. Madriz hit Cole Howard on a crossing route on a bee-line to the end zone, but a great tackle by Dill drove Howard out of bounds at the 1-yard line.

Coach CHARLES BUSSEY elected to go for broke, and it paid off when Baker burst into the end zone. Following Pernicano’s PAT, Valhalla led for the first time, 14-7, with 3:45 left until intermission.

Shortly before halftime, West Hills was able to get into Valhalla territory, but Marsh sacked the quarterback for an 8-yard loss, squelching the first-half comeback.

Just like their first possession of the game, the Wolfpack opened the second half with an 11-play touchdown drive, capped by a 4 yard TD run by Quigley, tying the game 14-14 at the 5:54 mark of the 3rd quarter. The Norsemen also duplicated their first drive of the game, going three-and-out.

Following the Valhalla punt, West Hills started another time-consuming march down the field. As the quarter ended, the Pack was once again knocking on the door with a 1st and goal from the Norsemen 6 yard line.

Once again, the visitors’ defense stiffened. Schimke ran down the quarterback on 1st down, sacking him for a 2-yard loss, to the 8-yard line.

Valhalla rushes with the ball Friday night. / photo by Don De Mars

On 2nd down, Young was flushed from the pocket, and, on a full sprint, threw a bullet to the receiver in the end zone, but an alert Korel was able to break up the intended TD toss.

On 3rd and goal, linebacker Marsh chased down the runner for a 5-yard loss to the 13-yard line. Weaver split the uprights with a 30-yard field goal at the 10:21 mark of the 4th quarter, giving the lead back to West Hills, 17-14.

So, what did Valhalla do? They marched right down the field, starting at their 38-yard line, where Madriz broke free for a 17-yard jaunt to the Wolf Pack 45, where he finally was snagged by defensive lineman AUSTIN DENISON.

A few plays later, Madriz threw a sideline pass to wide receiver MICHAEL BAZZI, who juked his way to the 25-yard line for an 8 yard gain.

After advancing to the 19-yard line, the Norseman drive stalled. A 36-yard field goal attempt was barely wide right, but a roughing the kicker penalty breathed new life into the Valhalla offense, with a 1st and goal from the 9-yard line.

Baker moved the ball to the 3 yard line in a couple of runs, and then was able to get into the end zone on the next play, even though he appeared to be tackled by defensive back DYLAN SMITH; As Smith was taking him to the ground, Baker managed to roll over the top of the defender and into the end zone, without touching the ground.

After the PAT, Valhalla once again assumed the lead, 21-17, but there was still 6:14 left to play.

Valhalla’s COLE HOWARD reaches the end zone Friday night. / photo by Don De Mars

The Pack started at their 26-yard line, and were able to get to the Valhalla 44, faced with a 3rd and 6 situation.

With just over 2 minutes left in the game, Manning and Marsh combined to sack the quarterback for a 7-yard loss, to the West Hills 49.

Coach Ash called time-out, with the game on the line, and a 4th and 13 mountain to climb

Seems like quarterback Young may be able to climb mountains, because he threw a laser downfield to a streaking Dill, who hauled in the pass for a 22 yard gain at the Valhalla 29 yard line — and — a 1st down. 7 plays later, it was 3rd and 3 at the Norsemen 11 yard line, and with 42 seconds left in the game.

Young pitched the ball to Weaver, for what looked like a sweep around the right side; Weaver pulled up and threw the ball to Young in the left flat, where he made it to the end zone for what looked like the game-winning touchdown — but — there were two flags thrown on the play, near where Young caught the pass.

Two referees called a holding penalty on West Hills, but, after a lengthy conference between the refs, the penalty was waved off; apparently, two other refs said it wasn’t holding.

The touchdown counted, Weaver’s PAT was good, and the lads from Santee went home with the victory, 24-21.

Evenly matched? Both teams totaled 230 yards offense.

It was a great game to watch, from start to finish; both coaches should be proud of the boys.

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