Valparaiso (0-8, 0-5 PFL)
Game #9: Saturday, Nov. 3 - Noon
at Campbell (1-7, 0-5 PFL)
Barker–Lane Stadium (5,000 - FieldTurf) - Buies Creek, N.C.
This Week in Crusader Football: Valparaiso heads to Buies Creek, N.C. to take on Campbell University on Saturday afternoon. The Crusaders and the Camels are both in search of their first PFL victory.
Previously: On Parent’s Day at Brown Field, the Crusaders surrendered four touchdowns of 78 or more yards in a 44-7 defeat against Marist College. In total, Valpo allowed 661 total yards of offense, 349 of which came in the running game. Quarterback Eric Hoffman amassed a season-high 304 yards through the air.
Next Up: Valpo returns home for its final home game of the season when it hosts Davidson College at Brown Field at 1 p.m. next Saturday, Nov. 10.
On the Air: For the eighth straight season, the Valpo Sports Radio Network will be home to all 11 Crusader football games in 2012. All 11 games can be heard live on WAKE (1500 AM, Valparaiso), online through www.valpoathletics.com or by downloading the WAKE Radio app for Android or iPhone devices. Todd Ickow will handle all the play-by-play with Travis Lucian adding color commentary.
Head Coach Dale Carlson: Dale Carlson is 1-29 in his third season with the Crusaders and 111-132-3 overall entering his 24th season as a collegiate head coach. He arrived at Valpo from Ohio Dominican where he began the Ohio Dominican program from scratch in 2004, just as he did at Tri-State University prior to his tenure with the Panthers. He is the 16th head coach in Valpo history, and just the seventh since 1946.
Series Notes: Valparaiso and Campbell are meeting for the fifth straight season since the Camels resurrected their football program prior to the 2008 season. All-time, the Crusaders and Camels have each won two meetings. Valpo beat Campbell 34-31 last season at Brown Field, but lost 56-14 in its most recent trip to Barker-Lane Stadium in 2010.
Scouting Campbell: The Camels are currently riding a six-game PFL losing skid after falling to Valpo last November. The Camels, who are coming off a 70-28 loss to Morehead State last week, boast the second worst scoring defense in the PFL, allowing just more than 39 points per contest. Junior quarterback Dakota Wolf is averaging 93.7 passing yards per game and is the team’s leading rusher, averaging 72 yards per game. With an average of 296.5 yards per game, Campbell is the only PFL team with fewer than 300 yards a contest.
Wrapping Up 2011: The Crusaders captured their first win of the Dale Carlson era in the home finale last year by defeating Campbell, 34-31. Valpo ended the season 1-10 and 1-7 in PFL play, but returns plenty of experience for 2012, as six starters are back on both sides of the ball.
Grask Wraps Them Up: Junior defensive back Alex Grask again was the Crusaders’ top tackler last Saturday against Marist, registering nine tackles, six of which were solo. Grask has three double-digit efforts in the tackles column this season and ranks sixth in the PFL, averaging 9.9 tackles per game.
Rush Defense: After allowing a season-low 108 net rushing yards against Drake on Oct. 13, the Crusaders defense has allowed 822 rushing yards in their two subsequent games. Valpo has allowed at least 200 yards rushing in six of its eight games this season. The Crusaders have the worst rushing defense (273.9 yards/game) in the PFL, while Campbell brings the PFL’s third best rushing offense, averaging 156.6 yards per contest.
Career Day for Slenk: Eric Slenk set new career highs for receptions (6) and receiving yards (118) against Marist. The senior has been the Crusader’s most targeted receiver during the last three weeks, leading the team with 12 catches for 204 yards over the last three games. On the season, Slenk is averaging 15.3 yards per reception, the best clip among Crusaders.
Touches for Hutson: With 17 carries and eight catches against Marist, freshman running back Jake Hutson matched a career-high with 25 touches. Hutson has carried the ball a team-high 98 times for 381 yards this season. Hutson is Valpo’s first 300-yard rusher since Ross Wiemer (824) and Warren Arnold (378) in 2008.
Guilford Tough Inside: Freshman John Guilford currently leads Valpo in both tackles for loss (5.5) and sacks (2.5) recorded. Through eight games, his 28 tackles ranks sixth on the team. Nikko Carson led the Crusaders with 5.5 sacks in 2011.
Two in a Row: The Crusaders are looking to beat Campbell for a second straight season. In a 34-31 win against the Camels last November, running back Gabe Ali-Eli led the Crusaders with 159 all-purpose yards (69 rushing, 90 receiving) to go along with a pair of touchdowns. Quarterback Eric Hoffman had a career afternoon, finishing 30-of-40 for 317 yards and four touchdowns. Tim Bennett and Tanner Kuramata each got in the endzone for the Crusaders.
Team Captains: Valpo entered the 2012 season with a pair of captains, with senior tight end Mike Gerton representing the offense and senior cornerback Alan Porter Jr. representing the defense. Due to a season-ending injury to Porter, junior safety Alex Grask has been appointed defensive captain for the rest of the season.
Crusaders Picked Tenth in Preseason Poll: The head coaches selected Valparaiso to finish tenth in the Pioneer Football League this season according to the preseason poll. The prognosticators selected San Diego to take home the 2012 championship.