East County football underway

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Charles Bussey let out a sigh of relief. A decisive victory on home turf is always a good way to start the season.

Bussey, Valhalla’s head football coach for the last seven years, finds himself in a position many coaches can relate to. It is a rebuilding season for the Norsemen.

“It’s a new group,” he said. “We graduated a lot of guys from last year so it’s kind of a work in progress.”

Charles Bussey let out a sigh of relief. A decisive victory on home turf is always a good way to start the season.

Bussey, Valhalla’s head football coach for the last seven years, finds himself in a position many coaches can relate to. It is a rebuilding season for the Norsemen.

“It’s a new group,” he said. “We graduated a lot of guys from last year so it’s kind of a work in progress.”

Valhalla’s progress was put to the test on Aug. 25, for their first match of the season against Scripps Ranch. The Norsemen won 33-20 with more than a handful of colorful moments to tip the scales in their favor. Moments like safety Ty Schimke returning a punt for a touchdown from the Scripps 37 in the third quarter. Schimke was an orange blaze most of the night, rushing a total of 157 yards and running in two touchdowns against the Falcons.

Joining Schimke on the field are standouts like senior quarterback Dennis Dahlin and senior defensive end Josh McNish-Heider. McNish-Heider was listed in the San Diego Union Tribune’s list of prep football players to watch.

Although relieved to have captured the win over the Falcons, Bussey said his boys were not at peak performance yet, and would need the preseason to build. The team is young, he said.

“We’ve got to get better each week so that we’re at our best when we run through league because it is a really tough league,” said Bussey. “Our biggest concern is just getting better in terms of gelling together and making sure we know what we’re doing.”

League will be tough. The Grossmont Hills league is home to some powerhouse football programs, most notable of which is Helix. Valhalla lost to Helix last year at the close of a tumultuous season. With appearances at the last two CIF championship games—winning the title in 2015—the Helix Highlanders are county favorites. Their roster is stacked with talent like Rashad Scott, Carson Baker, and Elelyon Noa. Helix won their season opener against Herriman, 35-0. 

But Grossmont and El Capitan may pose a challenge to the Norsemen as well, although both teams lost their Friday matches. El Capitan had a good summer in passing league. Nearly a third of Grossmont’s roster is comprised of seniors, though notably missing now-graduated Domonique Guevara, the Foothiller’s celebrated wide receiver. But returners like wide receiver Josh Moala are champing at the bit to step into Guevara’s shoes. Someone needs to.

As the stands emptied of the Orange Nation fans who had come for the opening game, Bussey gathered his team together beneath the marching band and the brass ensemble played a victory tune. When the final notes cleared the air, the Norsemen saluted the band members with raised helmets and a chorus of hollars.

The season has begun.