Missouri Baptist (0-6, NAIA Independent)
at Valparaiso (1-4, 0-2 PFL)
Game #6: Saturday, Oct. 11, 1 p.m. CDT
Brown Field (5,000 - ProGrass) - Valparaiso, Ind.
This Week in Crusader Football: The Crusaders welcome Missouri Baptist to Valparaiso just in time for Homecoming. It’ll be difficult to top the dramatic 49-42 overtime win over Campbell in last year’s Homecoming game. More importantly, the Brown and Gold are looking for a win after a 35-7 loss last Saturday to Marist that head coach Dave Cecchini could only describe as “disappointing.” 2014 marks the inaugural year of football for the Missouri Baptist Spartans. A victory over MBU would give Valpo more than one win in a season for the first time since 2008.
On the Air: For the ninth straight season, the Valpo Sports Radio Network is home to all 12 Crusader football games in 2014. All 12 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 Dave Huseman adding the color commentary this week. Links to the video, audio, and live stats will also be available through www.valpoathletics.com.
Head Coach Dave Cecchini: Cecchini is 1-4 in his first year at Valparaiso. His first head coaching win came on Sept. 20th, 2014 when the Crusaders defeated William Jewell 39-30. Cecchini most recently served as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Lehigh where the Mountain Hawks captured a Patriot League Championship in 2010. His path to Valpo also included stops at Harvard and The Citadel, where he mentored QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and WR Andre Roberts to eventual professional careers. While Cecchini made a name for himself as offensive coordinator at Harvard in 2003, the Crimson compiled the fourth-best offense in the nation en route to an undefeated 10-0 season and an Ivy League Championship. Furthermore, The Citadel set 16 offensive records under his tutelage. As a receiver at Lehigh, Cecchini garnered All-American honors and established numerous single-season school and Patriot League records.
All-Time Series: Valparaiso and Missouri Baptist have never met on the football field. In fact, Saturday’s game represents the first ever meeting between the two schools in any sport. After taking on Southeast Missouri State in Week 1, Valpo is just the second Division I team MBU will have faced. In their first year participating in football, the Spartans are independent members of NAIA Division I.
Wrapping Up 2013: The Crusaders captured their only win of the season on Homecoming last year, defeating Campbell 49-42 in overtime. Valpo ended the season 1-10 and 1-7 in PFL play, but returns plenty of experience for 2014 in addition to a brand new coaching staff.
Scouting Missouri Baptist: Hailing from the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri Baptist celebrates its 50th anniversary as an institution in the same year it fields its first football team. Like any upstart program, the Spartans are taking their lumps with a roster abundant with youth. MBU’s 90-man roster consists of 60 freshmen, 23 sophomores, and just seven juniors. The Spartans traveled to Cape Girardeau on August 28th to face Southeast Missouri State in their inaugural game. The Redhawks racked up eleven touchdowns (eight rushing) in a 77-0 affair. at Houck Stadium. Missouri Baptist’s first points came off the foot of Alex McGlassion - a 30-yard FG - in its Week 2 matchup at Saint Francis (Ind.). JP Lowery later tallied the first touchdown in school history when he broke the plane on a two-yard TD run.
Opponents have had their way with the Spartans on the ground. Through six games, Missouri Baptist has yielded 31 rushing touchdowns. On average, they surrender 344.7 rushing yards/game. The pass defense has experienced much more success, having allowed 1,192 passing yards over its first six games. Defensive end Maleek Ross has been MBU’s MVP on defense so far. The freshman owns seven tackles for a loss and four and a half sacks. His 28 stops rank fifth amongst the Spartan defense. In addition to two fumble recoveries, linebacker Tremont Davis is tied for the team lead in tackles with 39.
One of the few upperclassmen on the Spartan roster, junior DeMarco Billups has logged the majority of time at quarterback for Missouri Baptist. However, Jordan Norwine is listed as the starter on MBU’s two-deep. Having appeared in five games, the freshman has completed ten passes on 19 attempts for 60 yards. Norwine has thrown one pick and is in search of his first touchdown pass. The 6-foot, 4-inch Kalen Petty has been on the receiving end of two of MBU’s four touchdown passes. Petty has hauled in a team-high 23 passes for 235 yards. JP Lowery leads the rushing attack for the Spartans. Lowery has netted 281 yards on 96 carries, including a TD.
Head Coach Jason Burianek: Burianek is in his first season at the helm of the Spartan football program. Burianek got his feet wet in coaching as a graduate assistant at the University of Colorado after playing there during the Rick Neuheisel and Gary Barnett eras. He served as the wide receivers/tight ends coach at McKendree University from 2004-2007. Following a one-year stint as offensive coordinator at nearby Belleville West High School, Burianek returned to the Bearcat coaching staff in 2009. He was named the first head football coach in Missouri Baptist history in March of 2013.
National, League: The Crusaders are in the top ten in the nation and lead the Pioneer Football League in fewest penalties (23), penalties per game (4.6), and fewest sacks allowed (3). John Guilford’s 1.4 tackles for a loss per game is also tops in the PFL. Tanner Kuramata’s receptions and receiving yards per game both check in at 13th in the country. Davidson’s William Morris surpassed Kuramata in both categories last week thanks to a 15-catch, 158-yard afternoon versus Dayton where the junior reeled in three touchdowns.
Quick Hits: Valpo has allowed 1,140 yards on the ground, and 1,135 yards through the air...Missouri Baptist assistant Charles Coe has over 40 years of coaching experience including a stint as wide receivers coach with the Oakland Raiders. Coe was a first-round MLB draft pick by the Detroit Tigers in 1971 before playing for the St. Louis Cardinals football team in ‘74...Crusader QBs have been sacked a PFL-low two times...opponents have outscored Valpo 101-27 in the first half.