El Cajon Ford East County Game of the Week: Valhalla Norsemen 21, Steele Canyon Cougars 14
By Stephanie Kelly
When the El Cajon Ford East County Game of the Week features a rivalry match up, you can just throw the records out the window. The 2-6 Steele Canyon Cougars traveled to Valhalla to face the 7-1 Norsemen in the annual Battle for the Jamacha Helmet in our week 10 match up.
The Cougars challenged the Norsemen from the beginning, forcing Valhalla to use a large portion of the first quarter to grind out a score on the opening drive. Valhalla finally found the end zone on a 3 yard touchdown run by Jerome Johnson to go ahead 7-0.
Steele Canyon responded on their opening drive, which trickled over into the second quarter. Quarterback Thomas Fishburne and Brenden Willis had a nice completion and Isaiah Thompson closed things out with a 6 yard touchdown run to tie things at 7.
The Cougar D continued to press the Valhalla offense in the second quarter, keeping the Norsemen out of the end zone for the remainder of the half. Steele took a 14-7 lead into the locker room after Fishburne and Thompson hooked up on a three yard touchdown pass.
The Norsemen defense did their part in the second half. Steele punted on the opening drive and Valhalla quickly capitalized. QB Dennis Dahlin had a solid connection to Jacob Paape to give the Norsemen first down on the 18. Johnson then rumbled his way to the three yard line, and on the next play Dahlin and Johnson appeared to bobble a handoff that conveniently squirted up into Dahlin’s arms and he glided untouched to the end zone. Dahlin said he saw the ball come up and all he thought was “don’t freaking drop it this close to the end zone!”
Steele Canyon marched back down the field on offense, with Fishburne and Jordan Anderson connecting on a pass to give the Cougars first and goal on the 6. They got to 4th and goal on the one, and the Valhalla defense was able to stand their ground and get the turnover on downs.
In the 4th the Valhalla offense finally found their stride. Dahlin led a commanding drive that was capped with a Dahlin to Paape 14 yard touchdown pass.
The Cougars got the ball back for one last try with under a minute to play, but Jerome Johnson delivered a huge sack that helped seal up the victory for Valhalla. The Norsemen won by a final of 21-14, and held on to the Jamacha Helmet in “3 Peat” fashion.
PREVIEW: The El Cajon Ford East County Game of the Week heads to Valhalla on Friday for the first time this season. The Norsemen (7-1, 2-1) are hosting cross town rival Steele Canyon (2-6, 0-3) in the Battle for the Jamacha Helmet.
Two weeks ago Valhalla dropped their first game of the season to undefeated Grossmont by a score of 48-13. The Norsemen couldn’t hang onto the ball in the contest, turning it over six times. Coach Charles Bussey said “In all of my years of coaching I struggled the most with that loss. It was so frustrating.” He said the following week against El Capitan he encouraged his four team captains to give the pre game speech. “They needed to tell their teammates how important this game was and what it meant to them.” The team responded to the message, rallying behind backup Quarterback Dennis Dahlin to a 31-7 win.
Coach Bussey said he expects that momentum to carry over into this week. “Steele Canyon is a rival game for us. Our seniors haven’t lost the Jamacha Helmet to Steele Canyon and they don’t want that to change so it’s been a big focus.” He notes that Steele Canyon has suffered a lot of injuries throughout this season, but they’re still a good team that fights hard.
The Norsemen’s starting Quarterback Bryan Madriz went out with a calf injury in the Grossmont match up. He has been seeing limited time in practice this week, and based on a doctor’s evaluation before the game he may see some playing time on Friday. However, Coach Bussey said that Dennis Dahlin will get his second start. “When Dennis got his feet under him last week he played lights out,” said Bussey. “He’s got all of the ability in the world.”