Baker, Worthy give Norse life in loss

Kegan Baker has a hole opened for him on Friday against University City / Don De Mars - ECPREPS

2018 EAST COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL

UNIVERSITY CITY 41, VALHALLA 14

 

By Gene Yale

Special to EastCountySports.com

 

UNIVERSITY CITY – Valhalla head coach MIKE KASTAN is a patient man.

He also is very loyal. He has served at least four different head football coaches at Valhalla since the turn of the century.

That patience and that loyalty paid off this year when former coach Charles Bussey stepped down after several successful seasons.  His patience will also pay off for the program as he develops and molds players to fit his system.

After watching his freshmen-loaded JV team rise to the occasion by knocking off University City’s JV squad 14-6 on the road, Coach Kastan knew his varsity charges were facing a tough, seasoned opponent led by junior quarterback Gunnar Gray (6’3”) and senior wide receiver Casey Granfors (6’4”).

Valhalla chases down the University City player on Friday night. / Don De Mars – ECPREPS

Tough indeed.

On UCHS’s first play from scrimmage, Gray took advantage of Granfors’ height by lofting a deep pass over the smaller defender’s outstretched arms, allowing the receiver to waltz to the end zone and a quick 7-0 lead.  Gray threw two more TD passes and had a 20-0 lead before Valhalla could get on the scoreboard.

Norsemen senior running back KIARE WORTHY fielded the ensuing kickoff at the Valhalla 4 yard line, burst through a wall of would-be tacklers at about the 30, juked another defender out of his socks, and scooted to paydirt for a 96-yard touchdown.

Junior BENITO GONZALES split the uprights, the El Cajon lads appeared to have gained some momentum, cutting the Centurions’ lead to 20-6 with 4:58 left until intermission.

Unfortunately for the visitors, Gray tossed two more TD passes late in the second stanza, cruising into halftime with a 34-7 advantage.

Valhalla sophomore quarterback LUKE PILLSBURY throws on Friday night. / Don De Mars – ECPREPS

Valhalla got on the board first in the second half when junior running back KEGAN BAKER bulled his way into the end zone from 5 yards out, making it 34-14, but Gray threw a 70 yard TD bomb as soon as UCHS got the ball back, ending the scoring at 41-14.

The Norsemen stymied the Centurions’ running game, limiting the home team to 13 rushing yards in the first half, and 38 yards in the second half.  Senior linebacker ZACK LARSON had five tackles for loss, including a highlight-reel flattening for all to see (and hear).

Coach Kastan’s patience and loyalty already appears to be paying off, even if not yet on the scoreboard.

Late in the game, with no chance to win the game, young Baker was fighting for yards, with three or four Centurions trying to drag him down.  From out of nowhere, senior offensive lineman J.T. WASHAM burst into the rugby-like scrum and singlehandedly pushed the pile forward another five yards, enough for a Valhalla first down — and enough to give his teammate Kegan Baker a 100-yard rushing game.

That’s teamwork, patience, and loyalty… And, folks, that’s what high school football is all about.

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