Game #1: Saturday, Sept. 2, 1 p.m. CDT
Valpo (0-0, 0-0 PFL) at Wisconsin Lutheran (0-0, 0-0 MIAA)
Warrior Field (2,500-Field Turf), Milwaukee, Wis.
This Week in Crusader Football: The 86th season of Valparaiso University football kicks off on Saturday afternoon as the Brown and Gold travel to Milwaukee, Wis. to battle the Warriors of Wisconsin Lutheran. This is the second straight season Valpo and Wisconsin Lutheran have met to open the year.
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: This is the fourth straight meeting between the Crusaders and the Warriors with Valpo leading the all-time series 3-0 dating back to 2003. Last year, also in Milwaukee, Valpo posted a 17-3 victory over Wisconsin Lutheran in head coach Stacy Adams' first game at the helm of the Brown and Gold. The Crusaders posted a 33-13 victory in 2003 and a 41-0 shutout in 2004, both at Brown Field.
Scouting Wisconsin Lutheran: Wisconsin Lutheran begins its seventh season of collegiate football and is coming off of a 1-9 campaign in 2005. The Warriors went 1-6 in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, placing seventh. Wisconsin Lutheran returns 30 letterwinners, including 13 starters (seven offense, six defense) and were picked to finish seventh yet again in the MIAA. Running back Matt Kehl was named a 2006 Preseason All-America Honorable Mention selection by Don Hansen's Football Gazette. The senior has won back-to-back MIAA rushing titles, including last year's 1,285 yard effort.
Last Season: Valpo went 3-8 in 2005, the first season head coach Stacy Adams was at the helm of the Brown and Gold. The Crusaders finished 1-3 in the Pioneer Football League North Division, placing fourth. Five players were named to the All-Pioneer Football League First Team, including returning running back Jeff Horton. Honorable Mention All-PFL selection Jimmy Riker also returns for the Brown and Gold defensively heading into 2006.
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. San Diego was picked to win the league followed by Dayton.
Crusaders All-Time in Openers: Valparaiso is 44-38-3 all-time in their season opener during the first 85 seasons in the league. Last year, in a 17-3 victory at Wisconsin Lutheran, the Crusaders snapped a four-game losing skid in season openers. When opening the season on the road, Valpo has posted a 22-14-2 mark all-time.
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.
Horton Needs 158 Yards to Set School Rushing Record: Senior running back Jeff Horton is 158 yards shy of tying Joe Pahr (1949-1951) for the school's career rushing record. Horton has tallied 2,168 yards in his first three years wearing the Brown and Gold and is currently in fourth place on the rushing charts. With 42 yards Horton will tie John Knight (1958-1961) for third place in school history while 56 yards will move him into a tie for second with Dave Newman (1974-1977). Pahr leads the way with 2,326 career yards.
New ?Old" Faces on the Sidelines: Valpo's coaching staff sees the addition of several individuals for the 2006 season. Defensive coordinator Sam Bernardi returns to the sidelines after a year off for the Brown and Gold. Bernardi was with the program for 14 seasons prior to last year. Also returning to the sidelines after a year's hiatus is Rob Hanson. Hanson was with Valpo for nine years prior to 2005.
Watkins and Riker Return to Lead Valpo's Defense: Matt Watkins and Jimmy Riker return to the lineup as the team's top tacklers heading into 2006. Watkins registered 49 tackles one year ago while Riker had 44 stops, including 11 for loss.
Doerffler at the Helm in 2006: Ryan Doerffler won the starting quarterback job for the Crusaders heading into the new season. The redshirt-junior was 128-of-242 for 1,408 yards and nine touchdowns last season.