Game #1: Saturday, Sept. 1, 12 p.m. CDT
Saint Francis (Ill.) (0-0, 0-0 MSFA)
at Valpo (0-0, 0-0 PFL)
Brown Field (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
This Week in Crusader Football: The 87th season of Valparaiso University football kicks off on Saturday afternoon as the Brown and Gold hosts Saint Francis (Ill.) in the season opener at Brown Field. This marks the first time since the 2002 season that the Crusaders will open the new year at home.
On the Air: For the third straight season, the Valpo Sports Radio Network will be 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 will handle all the play-by-play with Josh Weinhold adding the color commentary.
Series Notes: Saturday will mark the first time the Crusaders and Fighting Saints will have ever met on the gridiron. Valpo is tentatively scheduled to travel to Joliet to face Saint Francis during the 2008 season.
Scouting Saint Francis: Saint Francis enters the new campaign on the heels of a 1-9 record in 2007, when the Fighting Saints finished in eighth place in the Midwest League of the Mid-States Football Association with a 1-8 conference mark. Head coach Mike Uremovich returns for his third season leading the program. Saint Francis was picked to finish in eighth place again this year. Linebacker Clayton Norberg, wide receiver Jason Fiske, and tight end Andrew Zurales all return for the Fighting Saints after earning Honorable Mention All-MSFA honors one year ago. Saint Francis also returns John Goolsby at quarterback, one of 17 starters returning in 2007.
Last Season: Valpo went 3-8 for the second straight year in 2006, but ended the season on a high note with a 20-7 victory in the season finale against Aurora at Brown Field. Steve Ogden became the first Crusader since 2006 to post more than 1,000 yards receiving while earning Honorable Mention All-Pioneer Football League honors for the Brown and Gold.
Valpo Picked Eighth in Preseason Poll: The Crusaders were selected to finish eighth place in the Pioneer Football League this season according to the head coaches. The PFL champion will face the Northeast Conference champion in the Gridiron Classic at year’s end.
Crusaders All-Time in Openers: Valparaiso is 45-38-3 all-time in season openers during the first 86 seasons of Crusader football. Last year, the Crusaders won their second straight opener, shutting out Wisconsin Lutheran 54-0 in Milwaukee, Wis. Valpo is 22-23-1 when opening the season at home, but has posted a 46-38-2 record all-time in home openers. Last year the Brown and Gold dropped the home opener against Trinity International 39-20.
Horton Holds School Rushing Record: Fifth-year senior running back Jeff Horton became Valparaiso’s all-time leading rusher last season, passing Joe Pahr (1949-1951). Horton enters 2007 with 2,429 career rushing yards, 103 more than Pahr’s total.
Ogden Among Valpo’s Top-10 All-Time in Receiving: Steve Ogden enters 2007 in 10th place on Valpo’s career receiving list with 1,493 yards. He needs nine yards to match Greg Tatarek (1986-1989) for ninth place on the career charts and 43 more to equal Ryan Barno’s (2000-2003) eighth place total of 1,536. Ogden is just 147 yards shy of the Crusaders’ top-five in receiving.
Horton to Break into Scoring List: Jeff Horton enters the season with 138 career points, needing just one more to match Adam Hudak’s (2000-2002) 10th place total on the all-time list. With his next touchdown, he will match Nick Browder (1993-1996) for ninth place with 144 points.
Koepke Returns to Lead Defense: Ryan Koepke, Valpo’s leading tackler with 67 stops one year ago, returns to the linebacking corps for the Brown and Gold. In two seasons, the redshirt-junior has 108 tackles, including 6.5 for loss. A First Team Academic All-PFL selection last season, he was named a NACDA Coca-Cola Community All-American over the summer.
Opening at Home a Rarity of Late: With Valpo opening the season at Brown Field on Saturday, it marks the first time the Crusaders have kicked off a new year at home since 2002 when the Brown and Gold entertained Morehead State.
Lengthy Road Trip to Follow: After the season opener against Saint Francis, the Crusaders will not return to Brown Field for more than a month. Valpo will play four straight games on the road, including the PFL opener at Drake, before returning home on October 6 to face San Diego on Homecoming weekend.