by Christopher Mohr
September 7, 2010 (San Diego/Pacific Beach) - Friday afternoon's football season opener between the Valhalla High School Norsemen and the host Buccaneers of Mission Bay High School was a matchup between two playoff contenders from last season. East County's Valhalla proved victorious in a crushing 38-0 blow-out.
Both teams lost star players from the 2009 season to graduation. Pete Thomas left Valhalla midway through the 2009-10 school year to attend Colorado State University, where he has become the starting quarterback for the Rams. Mission Bay standout Dillon Baxter was on many scouts' top five list as a high school prospect last season and presently attends USC where he is expected to develop into a star tailback.
Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, any similarities between the two teams ended there. Very little went right for Mission Bay after several early turnovers allowed Valhalla to take control of the game early.
After only two plays from scrimmage, the Buccaneers lost the ball on a fumble at their own 24-yard line. Three plays later, Justin Wada scored on a nifty reverse play and after a successful try, the Norsemen led 7-0.
On the next possession for Mission Bay, Valhalla's Brandon Steed intercepted a pass and returned the ball to the Buccaneers' 22-yard line. The Norsemen's drive stalled however, and the team settled for a 29-yard field goal by Trevor McGirr to extend the lead to 10-0 in the first quarter.
Ryan Ripley later recovered a fumble for Valhalla, but in what might be considered an act of mercy from the football gods, the Norsemen were unable to convert that turnover to points. Ripley proved to be troublesome for Mission Bay's offense on another drive as he just missed adding an interception to his solid defensive performance.
Valhalla scored in the second quarter on a nice 27-yard pass play from Franklin Foster to Jevon Hasten to make the score 17-0. Just before halftime, Foster added a touchdown on a 29-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-one play, and the Norsemen led 24-0 at the halftime intermission.
Hasten and Franklin connected again in the third quarter on another touchdown pass play from 26 yards out to make the score 31-0. Hasten shared his thoughts on his two touchdown receptions:
"It was a post route, the quarterback led me perfectly," Hasten then pointed to a different area of the field while discussing his second touchdown catch, "Over here too on the hitch route, I kept on going, the DBs kind of went to the right, I kept on moving, quarterback put it in the right spot, got a touchdown."
The Buccaneeers' misfortunes continued in the fourth quarter when their blocking broke down on a punting play. Valhalla's Michael Steed was in the backfield so quickly, he could have almost taken the snap himself. Instead, he blocked Jorge Mendez's punt and returned the loose ball 32 yards to close out the scoring at 38-0.
"We were just doing a fake play and [coach] said, 'Go for it', So I went. The snap was wide right so I jumped over my guy and blocked the punt, got a perfect bounce and went to the end zone," Steed said about his highlight play.
Mission Bay (0-1) travels south to Chula Vista on September 17th to face Otay Ranch (0-1) which lost 28-16 to Elsinore in their season opener. If the blowout loss to Valhalla wasn't bad enough, the Buccaneers now have an extra week to think about it.
Valhalla (1-0) travels to Spring Valley to face Mt. Miguel (1-0), which edged out Morse High School for a 21-20 win in last Friday's season opener.
Valhalla and Mt. Miguel were league rivals in 2009 and previous years, but league realignment has put the Norsemen in the Grossmont Hills league and the Matadors in the Grossmont Valley league. In spite of the game being a non-league matchup, the two teams should play a spirited contest. Mt. Miguel hopes to exact revenge for a 36-29 loss at Valhalla on October 16th last season.
Christopher Mohr is a freelance writer in the San Diego area and is an avid Chargers, Padres and
V - Wada 9 run (McGirr kick)
V - FG McGirr 29
V - Hasten 27 pass from Foster (McGirr kick)
V - Foster 29 run (McGirr kick)
V - Hasten 26 pass from Foster (McGirr kick)
V - Steed 32 blocked punt return (McGirr kick)