Game #1: Thursday, Sept. 4, 6 p.m. CDT
Valpo (0-0, 0-0 PFL) at
Saint Francis (0-0, 0-0 MSFA)
Joliet Memorial Stadium (10,000 - Grass) - Joliet, Ill.
This Week in Crusader Football: The 88th season of Valparaiso University football kicks off with a rare Thursday night contest as the Crusaders travel to Joliet, Ill. to battle Saint Francis (Ill.). The Crusaders are coming off of a 5-6 season and return 49 letterwinners from last year’s squad.
On the Air: For the fourth straight season, the Valpo Sports Radio Network will be home to all 11 Crusader football games in 2008. 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 David Schroeder adding the color commentary.
Series Notes: Valparaiso and Saint Francis are meeting for the second time ever on the gridiron. The Crusaders won the first meeting against the Fighting Saints 28-21 in the 2007 season opener at Brown Field on September 1. The Crusaders rushed for a school record 389 yards and Jeff Horton had three rushing touchdowns in that game.
Scouting Saint Francis: Saint Francis returns 46 letterwinners, including 19 starters, from last year’s squad that finished 3-8 overall and 3-4 in the Mid-States Football Association Midwest Division. The Fighting Saints tied for fifth in the league a year ago. Saint Francis returns its top two running backs, Javon Stewart (556 yards) and Donte Villery (490) as well as quarterback John Goolsby, who threw for 471 yards in five games. Defensively, Clayton Norberg and Gannon Novak led the Fighting Saints with 99 tackles in 2007, including 18.5 for loss by Norberg. Both return this season.
Valpo Picked Seventh in Preseason Poll: The Crusaders were selected to finish in a tie for seventh place in the Pioneer Football League this season according to the head coaches. San Diego was selected to win the league title followed by Dayton. The PFL champion will face the Northeast Conference champion in the Gridiron Classic on December 6.
Crusaders All-Time in Openers: Valparaiso is 46-38-3 all-time in season openers during the first 87 seasons of Crusader football. Last year, the Crusaders won their third straight opener, defeating Saint Francis (Ill.) 28-21. Valpo is 23-14-2 when opening the season on the road.
Arnold to Crack Top-10 in Total Offense: Senior quarterback Warren Arnold needs just 26 yards to move into a tie with Jeff Horton (2003-2007) for 10th place on Valpo’s total offense list for a career. Arnold has 3,046 yards combined rushing and passing entering the 2008 season. Andy Huegli (1996-1999) is ninth on the list with 3,141 yards.
Ogden Fifth All-Time in Receiving: Steve Ogden enters 2008 in fifth place on Valpo’s career receiving list with 2,162 yards. He needs 146 more to match Kevin Knutson’s (2001-2004) total of 2,306 for a career.
Koepke Nearing 200 Career Tackles: Senior linebacker Ryan Koepke needs just 13 stops to reach the 200 mark for his career. With 187 career tackles to date, Koepke was a Second Team All-Pioneer Football League selection a year ago after making 79 stops in 2007.
Kozey Leads Offensive Line: Ryan Kozey, a senior right tackle, is set for his third season starting on the offensive line. Kozey was Valpo’s lone First Team All-PFL selection a year ago.
Top Rushing Offense Returns Nearly 75% of Crusader Yardage: Valpo led the PFL in rushing in 2007 averaging 203.5 yards per game. For the 2008 season, every ball carrier with the exception of Jeff Horton returns, led by Warren Arnold’s 68.2 yards per game.
Valpo’s Defensive Line a Force in the Backfield: Second Team All-PFL selection Andrew Mack and Honorable Mention pick Adam Rundh harassed opposing quarterbacks and running backs all year in the backfield in 2007. Mack registered 11.5 tackles for loss, including 5.5 quarterback sacks while Rundh made 16 stops behind the line of scrimmage, including 7.5 sacks.
New Field Surface to Debut Next Week: At next week’s home opener against Concordia (Wis.), Valparaiso will be playing on a new ProGrass turf at Brown Field. This will mark the first time in 88 years of Crusader football that Valpo will have an artificial surface for its home games.
Arnold Should Move into Top-10 in Passing This Season: Warren Arnold is just 484 passing yards shy of moving into the top-10 all-time at Valparaiso. The senior quarterback enters 2008 with 2,162 passing yards, trailing Jon Dimitri’s (1965-1967) 10th place mark of 2,646. With 627 more yards, Arnold would move all the way into eighth place. Arnold threw for 1,912 yards during his junior campaign.