Game #4: Saturday, Sept. 23, 1 p.m. CDT
Drake (2-1, 0-0 PFL) at Valpo (2-1, 1-0 PFL)
Brown Field (5,000 - Grass), Valparaiso, Ind.
This Week in Crusader Football: Valparaiso returns to Brown Field this Saturday to host Drake in a big Pioneer Football League game after the Crusaders posted a thrilling road win at Morehead State last weekend.
On the Air: For the second straight season, the Valpo Sports Radio Network will be home to all 11 Crusader football games in 2006. The Valpo Sports Radio Network consists of WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso), WAKE (1500-AM, Valparaiso), Relevant Radio 1270-AM (WWCA, Gary), and WE-FM (95.9-FM, Michigan City). Todd Ickow will handle all the play-by-play with Josh Weinhold adding the color commentary.
Series Notes: Drake holds a 10-3 advantage all-time in the series with the Crusaders and has won the last two meetings between the two schools. At Brown Field the Bulldogs hold a 4-3 advantage after last season's 49-24 victory over the Brown and Gold. Valpo's last win in the series came in overtime, 51-45, back on October 25, 2003, the only overtime game the Crusader football program has ever played.
Scouting Drake: Drake opens its 2006 Pioneer Football League schedule against the Crusaders in the Bulldogs' first road contest of the year. The Bulldogs have won two straight following a 35-7 victory over Wisconsin-Platteville last Saturday night. Running back Scott Phaydavong is eighth in NCAA I-AA in rushing and leads the PFL averaging 128.0 yards per game. At quarterback, Derek Retherford has completed 57.4% of his passes for 541 yards and four touchdowns, while James Adams leads the Drake defense with 21 tackles and two fumble recoveries.
Last Week: Valpo opened the PFL season in dramatic fashion with a 42-35 victory at Morehead State last Saturday afternoon. Ryan Doerffler connected with Steve Ogden on a 79-yard touchdown pass with just 31 seconds remaining for the winning score. Morehead State had tied the game at game at 35 with 1:34 remaining before Valpo's final touchdown. Doerffler finished the game 10-of-20 for 255 yards and three touchdowns while Ogden made four catches for 146 yards. Freshman John Popper rushed for 90 yards on 17 carries while Charlie Thompson spearheaded the defense with 12 tackles and a pass breakup.
Valpo Earns National Recognition: After starting the season 2-1, the Crusaders have garnered a little national attention in the Mid-Major polls. Valpo has earned a #9 ranking in the latest Sports Network and Don Hansen's Football Gazette I-AA Mid Major polls that came out on Monday. It is the first time the Brown and Gold has made the polls, which are for non-scholarship I-AA schools only, since 2004.
Doerffler Efficiently Good: Ryan Doerffler has made the most of his passing opportunities and leads the PFL while ranking third in all I-AA in passing efficiency with a 173.83 rating. On the season, Doerffler is 32-of-64 for 653 yards and eight touchdowns. In all of 2005, he threw just nine total touchdown passes in ten games.
Valpo to Help With Diabetes Walk on Sunday: The Valparaiso football team will help out at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International's Walk to Cure Diabetes this Sunday at Hidden Lake Park in Merrillville, Ind. More than 30 players will help with the registration tent and sign autographs for the event. The players have taken an interest with the cause as two of their teammates are inflicted with diabetes.
Riker Leads Defensive Line: Jimmy Riker leads all PFL defensive linemen in tackles on the season with 15, including 1.5 for loss. He also recovered a key fumble late in the game against Morehead State to stop a potential Eagle scoring drive.
Himmelwright an All-Around Force: Kyle Himmelwright has made major contributions this season both on defense and on special teams. He ranks 14th in I-AA in kickoff returns, averaging 28.57 yards per return while also ranking 19th in punt returns with a 13.00 average. In addition, the redshirt-freshman ranks fourth on the team in tackles with 14, has forced a fumble, has broken up a pass, and has the Crusaders' lone interception.
Freshmen Step up at Running Back: John Popper and Ross Wiemer both had big games rushing the football in their first extended action of their freshman seasons at Morehead State. Popper carried 17 times for 90 yards and a touchdown while Wiemer scored twice and finished the game with 69 yards rushing.
Valpo Lights Up the Scoreboard: The 38.67 points per game the Crusaders have averaged this season not only lead the PFL but rank sixth in all of I-AA in scoring offense.
Good Work Gets Rewarded: Ryan Koepke has been recognized for his efforts in the community, having been named to the American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team. He has been active with many different service organizations, including a mission trip to Guatemala where he helped provide medical care and nutrition to the local residents. He also has worked at Camp Watcha Wanna Do for children who are cancer patients or survivors as well as helped lead Valpo's football team into various elementary schools to read to the students.
Valpo Picked Seventh in Preseason Poll: The Crusaders were selected to finish seventh in the ?restructured" Pioneer Football League this season. The PFL moved to one division this season, with the league champion facing the Northeast Conference champion in the Gridiron Classic.
Krieg Earns PFL Honors in Week One: Mike Krieg was named the Pioneer Football League Special Teams Player of the Week following the Wisconsin Lutheran game for a perfect performance in his collegiate debut. The redshirt freshman kicker was a perfect 7-of-7 on extra point attempts while adding a 25-yard field goal in the victory.
Horton Sets School Rushing Record: Senior running back Jeff Horton set a new school career rushing record at Wisconsin Lutheran. Horton surpassed Joe Pahr's (1949-1951) 50-year old rushing mark of 2,326 yards. Horton now has 2,429 career rushing yards.
Horton Ties Valpo Single Game Touchdown Mark: Jeff Horton found the end zone four times in the Crusaders' season opener at Wisconsin Lutheran, tying Valpo's school record for touchdowns in a game. The mark, originally set by Paul Naumann at DePauw on October 20, 1956, has now been tied six times during the history of Valpo football.
Horton Named Preseason I-AA Mid-Major All-America Selection: Valpo running back Jeff Horton has been named a Division I-AA Mid-Major Preseason All-American by both Don Hansen's Football Gazette and The Sport's Network. Horton set Valpo's single season rushing record in 2005 with 1,358 yards.