5-6 Overall, 2-5 Pioneer Football League
This Year in Crusader Football: Valparaiso wrapped up the 2007 season with a 5-6 record overall and a 2-5 mark in Pioneer Football League play. With five victories, the Crusaders matched their highest win total since the 2003 campaign.
On the Air: For the third straight season, the Valpo Sports Radio Network was home to all 11 Crusader football games in 2007. The Valpo Sports Radio Network consists of WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso), WAKE (1500-AM, Valparaiso), and WE-FM (95.9-FM, Michigan City). Todd Ickow handled all the play-by-play with Josh Weinhold adding the color commentary.
Last Game: Davidson jumped out to a 41-0 lead after three quarters on the way to a 44-6 victory over the Crusaders in the season finale on November 10 in North Carolina. Jake Riedel scored Valpo’s lone touchdown on a seven-yard run, the first score of his career. Ben Faulkner led the way receiving with eight grabs for 120 yards while John Popper had 64 yards on the ground. The Wildcats racked up 517 yards of total offense as Ryan Alexander threw for 381 and four touchdowns.
Kozey Earns First Team All-PFL Honors: Offensive lineman Ryan Kozey was a First Team All-Pioneer Football League pick for the Crusaders this season. The starting right tackle helped pave the way for Valpo’s ground game which lead the PFL averaging 203.5 yards per game this season.
Koepke and Mack on Second Team: Ryan Koepke and Andrew Mack both were Second Team All-PFL picks this season for the Crusaders. Koepke led Valpo in tackles with 79 while Mack had 34 stops, including 11.5 for loss.
Four Crusaders Earn Honorable Mention: Wide receiver Steve Ogden was an Honorable Mention All-PFL selection along with defensive lineman Adam Rundh, defensive back Kyle Himmelwright, and return specialist John Popper.
Comeback Kids: Valpo trailed entering the fourth quarter in four of its five victories this season. Against Jacksonville, the Crusaders rallied from 10 down with less than eight minutes to play. Earlier this season, the Brown and Gold scored 28 fourth quarter points against Butler to rally from a 14-point deficit.
Crusaders Among Nation’s Top Sack Producers: Valparaiso ranked 12th in NCAA Division I-FCS in sacks per game. The Crusaders recorded 2.73 per contest, and had 30 total for 230 yards this season.
Oswald Leading a Block Party: Tom Oswald blocked yet another extra point at Jacksonville, giving him four blocked kicks on the season. The redshirt-sophomore also blocked a kick at Dayton last year, giving him five total over the past two seasons. As a team, Valpo blocked six kicks this season, including two against the Dolphins.
Horton Holds School Rushing Record, Surpasses 3,000 Yards: Fifth-year senior running back Jeff Horton became Valparaiso’s all-time leading rusher last season, passing Joe Pahr (1949-1951). This year, Horton became the first Crusader in history to surpass 3,000 yards in a career, doing so at Drake. He finished his career with 3,074 yards.
Ogden Among Valpo’s Top-5 All-Time in Receiving While Surpassing 2,000 Career Yards: Steve Ogden has moved into fifth place on Valpo’s career receiving list and passed the 2,000-yard mark for his career with 226 yards receiving against Morehead State earlier this year. Ogden now has 117 catches for 2,162 yards. Kevin Knutson (2001-2004) ranks fourth all-time with 2,308 yards.
Horton Fourth on All-Time Scoring List: Jeff Horton has 188 career points moving him into third place all-time in a Crusader uniform past Ozzie Young (1991-1995). Rob Giancola (2000-2004) is the school record-holder with 242 points while Joe Pahr (1949-1951) is second eight points behind Giancola.
Crusaders Set School Rushing Record in Opener: Valparaiso broke a 53-year old single game rushing record with 389 yards on the ground in the season opener against Saint Francis (Ill.). The Crusaders carried the ball 59 times in the game, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Valpo’s previous best rushing day was at DePauw on October 16, 1954 when the Crusaders tallied 387 yards.
Good Work Gets Rewarded for Watkins: Matt Watkins has been recognized for his efforts in the community, having been named to the American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team. He has participated in "Read for Fun Day" activities at Central Elementary School, helped raise money and walked in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life as well as participating in the Merrillville Diabetes Walk.
Three Earn Player of the Week Honors: Valparaiso earned several weekly awards from the league office this season. Kyle Himmelwright was named the Pioneer Football League’s Defensive Player of the Week on September 17 following his play at Kalamazoo while Sean Dillon earned the same honor on October 1 following the Drake game. John Popper was the league’s Special Teams Player of the Week on October 8 following the San Diego game.
Three Crusaders Earn Academic All-District Honors: Matt Watkins, Ryan Koepke, and Adam Rundh were all named to ESPN The Magazine’s Academic All-District V First Team. All three players have a grade point average over 3.40 and helped lead the way defensively for the Brown and Gold this season.
New Addition Coming in 2008: Campbell University has accepted an invitation to join the Pioneer Football League beginning in 2008. The addition of the Camels brings the league’s total to nine schools, with everyone playing an eight-game league slate beginning next season.
Year End Award Winners Announced: The Crusaders announced their annual award winners at the postseason banquet. Justin Wiler won the Offensive Helmet while Warren Arnold was named the Offensive Player of the Year. Adam Rundh was the Defensive Helmet recipient as well as the Most Improved Player and Ryan Koepke was the Defensive Player of the Year. John Popper was named Special Teams Player of the Year. Matt Watkins received the Koenig Award while Ben Faulkner was the Sever Award recipient.