East County Sports

Norsemen back in business of winning

Valhalla's Jacob Campos runs with the ball on Friday. / Don De Mars




By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

RANCHO SAN DIEGO —- Fueled by a new head coach, a new attitude — even the turf is new — the Valhalla Norsemen placed a winless spring season behind them by outlasting visiting Hilltop, 14-8, in Friday’s (Aug. 20) season opener at Valhalla Stadium.

The Norsemen defense — led by the line of nose guard Vince Crivello and end Khalil Plummer — keyed the decision, keeping the Lancers out of the end zone all night. Included was a goal-line stop in the fourth quarter when the visitors took the ball over at the Norsemen 15 following a botched punt, yet came away with no points.

Trailing 8-7 on a safety and a pair of field goals by Hilltop kicker Salvador Vidrios, Valhalla regained the lead on a 45-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Tommy Logan to junior receiver A.J. Cornthwaite late in the third quarter.

However, a decision to simply kick the PAT instead of going for two left the Norsemen with a 6-point advantage.

Although going for two can made sense, new, but old, head coach Charles Bussey trusted his defense to continue making stops, especially since Hilltop had a solid kicker, so any fourth-down decision could result in a Hilltop kick for three points.

Interestingly, both occurred.

After Logan’s TD pass, Vidrios converted a field goal of 33 yards, but it was nullified by a penalty. The re-try from 38 then sailed just wide to the right.

Later, Hilltop had three additional scoring chances but was thwarted each time.

On the opening play of the fourth quarter, a fourth-down pass by the Lancers was intercepted at the goal line by sophomore Aidan Cornthwaite, A.J.’s younger brother. The play kept the Lancers at bay following a Valhalla punt of just 10 yards.

Midway through the period, Hilltop advanced to the Valhalla 9, but a rollout on fourth down resulted in a fumble in front of the Lancers bench and a turnover on downs.

Then in the final three minutes with Hilltop needing to go 80 yards for the game-winning score, Valhalla offset a defensive holding penalty with a pair of key plays.

Crivello made a solid, open-field tackle to prevent the Hilltop quarterback from rushing for a first down. Two plays later on fourth down, a pass over the middle was deflected and knocked away by sophomore Jaylen Cruz with 1:38 remaining.

Another nice stop by the Valhalla defense was a pass breakup by Hossan Adonna.

In the first half, a 20-yard TD rush by running back Justin Avant gave Valhalla the lead by the unique score of 7-5 at the intermission. But Hilltop assumed an 8-7 lead on the Lancers’ second field goal, coming early in the third period.

For Hilltop, Richard Vega recorded an interception, as well as, a fumble recovery by Marcus Moore early in the second half. The Valhalla ground game was balanced between Avant and Mohammed Al Yousuf to aid in snapping the school’s eight-game losing streak dating back to the 2019 season.

Hilltop (0-1)....   3  2  3  0  --  8
Valhalla (1-0)...   0  7  7  0  -- 14
H — FG Vidrios 39
V — Avant 20 run (Aboytes kick)
H — Safety, RB tackled in end zone
H  — FG Vidrios 33
V —  A.J. Cornthwaite 45 pass from Logan (Aboytes kick)


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