Valparaiso (0-0, 0-0 PFL)
at North Dakota (0-0, 0-0 Big Sky)
Game #1: Thursday, Aug. 29, 7 p.m.
Alerus Center (12,283 - AstroTurf Magic Carpet) - Grand Forks, ND
This Week in Crusader Football: The 2013 football season kicks off on Thursday night at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, as the Crusaders take on North Dakota at 7 p.m. The game against the former Fighting Sioux kicks off the 93rd season of intercollegiate football at Valpo and begins the fourth season in the tenure of head coach Dale Carlson.
On the Air: For the eighth straight season, the Valpo Sports Radio Network will be home to all 11 Crusader football games in 2013. All 11 games can be heard live on WVUR (95.1FM, Valparaiso), online through www.valpoathletics.com. Todd Ickow will handle all the play-by-play, with Brad Collignon adding the color commentary this week. Live stats will also be available through www.valpoathletics.com.
Head Coach Dale Carlson: Dale Carlson is 2-31, starting his fourth season with the Crusaders, and 112-134-3 overall entering his 25th 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.
Long Time, No See: This will be the first trip to Grand Forks for the Brown and Gold. Valpo owns the victory in the only matchup between these two teams, which was in 1920. The Crusaders prevailed over North Dakota 20-10, a tilt that was played in Gary. In fact, Valparaiso is the only Indiana football team North Dakota has faced.
Wrapping Up 2012: The Crusaders captured their only win of the season on the road last year by defeating Campbell, 41-21. Valpo ended the season 1-10 and 1-7 in PFL play, but returns plenty of experience for 2013, as the Crusaders return eight starters on both sides of the ball.
Scouting North Dakota: Formerly known as the Fighting Sioux, North Dakota is coming off a 5-6 2012 season. North Dakota has been picked to finish seventh in the 51st season of Big Sky football. Sixth-year head coach Chris Mussman returns 13 starters from a squad that placed eighth in its first season in the Big Sky Football Conference last year. Under center for North Dakota is redshirt freshman QB Ryan Bartels, while senior wide receiver Greg Hardin returns after a 2012 that saw him record 14 touchdown receptions and 1,145 receiving yards en route to All-American honors.
Valpo in Season Openers: The Crusaders are 46-43-3 (.517) all-time in season openers, but has dropped the first game of the year each of the last five seasons. Last year, Valpo lost 36-34 to Saint Joseph’s (Ind.) at Brown Field on Aug 30th. The Crusaders’ last season-opening triumph came Sept. 1, 2007, a 28-21 victory over Saint Francis (Ill.).
On the Road Again: Valpo is opening the season on the road for the first time in the last three years, but it marks the seventh season opener away from Brown Field since 2003. The Crusaders are 23-18-2 all-time when opening the year on the road, and has posted a 48-42-2 mark all-time in their season openers.
Thursday Night Lights: Thursday’s game at Grand Forks will be the first of four consecutive for North Dakota at home inside the beautiful Alerus Center. Valpo has opened the season on a Thursday evening in three of the last five years, each time on the road: 2010 at Western Illinois and 2008 and Saint Francis (Ill.).
Hoffman Returns Under Center: Redshirt junior quarterback Eric Hoffman returns for his third season as the incumbent starter after seeing most of the snaps in his rookie season. Hoffman completed nearly 65.5% of his pass attempts in his second year, throwing for 1943 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Team Captains: Valpo will have three captains for the 2013 season. Redshirt sophomore running back Jake Hutson will represent the offense, while senior defensive back Alex Grask and sophomore linebacker Alex Green will represent the Crusader defense.
Crusaders Picked 10th in Preseason Poll: The head coaches selected Valparaiso to finish 10th in the Pioneer Football League this season according to the preseason poll. The prognosticators selected San Diego to take home the 2013 championship.
Back in the Backfield: Sophomore running back Jake Hutson made an impact as a redshirt freshman in 2012. Hutson earned the most carries of any running back, rushing 152 times for 753 yards and eight touchdowns, and also tallied 35 receptions for 266 yards.
Catch Me If You Can: The Crusaders return a number of strong targets for quarterback Eric Hoffman. Redshirt junior Fred Gladney led the team in receptions last season, hauling in 42 passes for 348 yards. Junior Tanner Kuramata was atop the team leaderboard in touchdown receptions with three. Hoffman connected with redshirt sophomore tight end Matt Mallon twelve times last season.
Just for Kicks: With the graduation of Greg Wood, redshirt junior Mike Pando will do both the punting and the kicking for Valparaiso in the team opener. Wood booted all 69 bunts for the Crusaders last season. Pando was 3-for-5 on the season last year with his longest field goal registering 41 yards against Butler on October 6th.
Protecting Their House: The Alerus Center has developed a reputation as a boisterous, raucous environment. North Dakota is 66-13 in the first 12 seasons at the stadium. Furthermore, the team is 87-29-1 in its home openers. They’ve posted shutouts 41 times in season openers.