Game #2: Saturday, Sept. 13, 1 p.m. CDT
Concordia (Wis.) (0-1, 0-0 NAC) at
Valpo (0-1, 0-0 PFL)
Brown Field (5,000 - ProGrass) - Valparaiso, Ind.
This Week in Crusader Football: Valpo is set for the 88th home opener in the program’s history at Brown Field on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders entertain Concordia (Wis.). The game also marks the inaugural game on the new Brown Field ProGrass playing surface, which was installed over the summer. Both schools are looking for their first victory of the 2008 season with Valpo trying to rebound from a loss at Saint Francis (Ill.) one week ago Thursday.
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. The game can also be heard online at www.valpoathletics.com
Series Notes: Valparaiso and Concordia (Wis.) are meeting on the gridiron for the first time. The two Lutheran schools are set to meet each other again next season in Mequon, Wis. Valpo has faced three other schools named Concordia, located in Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota, but none since the 1949 campaign.
Scouting Concordia (Wis.): The Falcons head to Valpo this week after losing a rematch of their 2007 NCAA Division III first round playoff game from a year ago against Bethel (Minn.) 38-10 on Saturday afternoon. Concordia controlled the ball for more than 35 minutes, but the Royals scored the game’s first 38 points. Thomas Pacchioli was 13-of-21 passing for just 49 yards while David White carried six times for 48 yards. On defense, Xavier Dyer had a team-leading seven tackles to go along with an interception.
Wrapping Up Saint Francis (Ill.): Playing in a driving rainstorm on a muddy field, the Fighting Saints were able to use two short scoring drives to pave the way for a 21-0 victory over Valpo last Thursday night in Joliet, Ill. Offensively, Valpo managed just 116 total yards and committed three key turnovers in the second half. Ross Wiemer led the way offensively with 49 yards rushing on 12 carries while Matt Watkins made eight tackles while also intercepting a pass. The loss snapped a string of three consecutive season-opening victories for the Crusaders.
Crusaders All-Time in Home Openers: Valparaiso is 47-38-2 (.552) in the previous 87 home openers at Brown Field. Last year, the Crusaders defeated Saint Francis (Ill.) 28-21 to snap a two-game losing skid in home openers.
Arnold Cracks Top-10 in Total Offense: Senior quarterback Warren Arnold moved past Jeff Horton (2003-2007) into 10th place on Valpo’s total offense list for a career after racking up 71 yards in the season opener against Saint Francis (Ill.). Arnold now has 3,117 yards combined rushing and passing entering the 2008 season. Andy Huegli (1996-1999) is ninth on the list with 3,141 yards, just 24 yards ahead of Arnold.
Ogden Fifth All-Time in Receiving: Steve Ogden is 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. Ogden missed the season opener with an injury.
Koepke Nearing 200 Career Tackles: Senior linebacker Ryan Koepke needs just 10 stops to reach the 200 mark for his career. With 190 career tackles to date, Koepke is quickly approaching the milestone. He had three stops in the season opener.
Watkins Has Solid Opener: Matt Watkins made a team-leading eight tackles for the Crusaders against Saint Francis (Ill.). He also intercepted a pass, the sixth of his career. With his eight stops, he now has 155 for his career.
Valpo’s Pass Defense the Nation’s Best: The rainy conditions in the opener helped Valpo’s pass defense put up some impressive opening numbers. The Crusaders only allowed five yards passing, tops in all of NCAA I-FCS while their passing efficiency defense also ranks number one at -86.03. Valpo’s defense limited Saint Francis to just 1-of-3 throwing the ball while intercepting two passes.
Offensive Line Does Its Job: Valpo’s offensive front did not allow a sack in the season opener against Saint Francis (Ill.), and is just one of 11 schools in NCAA I-FCS to have not allowed a sack yet on the season. The Crusaders were led by Ryan Kozey and Tim Kratz at the tackles.
Playing Fast: The season opener at Saint Francis (Ill.) took just two hours and 20 minutes to play.
Four Crusaders Make First Collegiate Starts: Ryan Myers, Steve Lara, Nikko Carson, and Jake Jenrich all made their first collegiate starts in the season opener. For Lara, Carson, and Myers it also marked their collegiate debuts.
Arnold Should Move into Top-10 in Passing This Season: Warren Arnold is just 452 passing yards shy of moving into the top-10 all-time at Valparaiso. The senior quarterback enters play against Concordia (Wis.) with 2,194 passing yards, trailing Jon Dimitri’s (1965-1967) 10th place mark of 2,646. With 595 more yards, Arnold would move all the way into eighth place. Arnold threw for 1,912 yards during his junior campaign.
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.