Trinity International (1-1, 0-0 MSFA) at Valparaiso (0-2, 0-0 PFL)
Game #3: Saturday, Sept. 17, 1 p.m.
Brown Field (5,000 - ProGrass) - Valparaiso, Ind.
This Week in Crusader Football: The Valparaiso University football team takes on its final non-league opponent of the season Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders open the home slate at 1 p.m. versus Trinity International.
Last Time Out: The Valparaiso University football team kept it close early for the second straight week, but 28 second-quarter points helped Sacred Heart pull away for a 42-14 victory over the Crusaders in Fairfield, Conn. on Saturday. The game was tied 7-7 after the opening quarter before the Pioneers scored four unanswered touchdowns. Freshman quarterback Jimmy Seewald threw two touchdown passes in the first half to sophomores Jean Rene and Griffin Norberg.
Looking Ahead: The Pioneer Football League schedule opens for the Crusaders next Saturday at Brown Field at 1 p.m., as Valpo welcomes Davidson for the annual Homecoming game.
Following the Crusaders: For the 11th straight season, WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) is home to all 11 Crusader football games in 2016. Todd Ickow returns on play-by-play for Valpo, while David Huseman will provide the color commentary on Saturday. Links for the live audio, as well as live stats will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Dave Cecchini: Cecchini is in his third season on the sidelines as head coach for the Brown and Gold in 2016. He enters Saturday’s game with a 5-19 record, both overall and in two-plus seasons at Valpo. In his first season as head coach of the Crusaders, Cecchini led the program to a four-win season, its winningest season since 2007. Prior to arriving at Valpo, Cecchini served as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the prior four years at Lehigh.
Series Notes: The Crusaders and Trojans will be meeting for the third time in program history on Saturday, as the two schools previously played a home-and-home series - playing at Brown Field in 2006 and at TIU in 2007. Trinity International won both prior meetings, including a narrow 17-13 victory at TIU in the last meeting on Sept. 8, 2007. The Crusaders limited the Trojans to just 223 yards of offense in that game, but were hurt by four turnovers
Scouting Trinity International: The Trojans are coming off a bye week heading into this Saturday’s game and own a 1-1 record, with a 34-20 loss to #4 Saint Francis (Ind.) and a 55-21 victory over Wisconsin Lutheran. In the win over WLC, TIU registered 673 yards of total offense, including 451 yards on the ground on 54 carries. J.J. Burmeister has thrown for 354 yards and four TDs through the first two games while also carrying the ball 15 times for 95 yards and two scores.
Making an Immediate Impact: Freshman quarterback Jimmy Seewald has seen action in each of the Crusaders’ first two games and took advantage at Sacred Heart, throwing the first two touchdown passes of his career. Seewald hit Jean Rene for a 36-yard TD pass on his first play of the game to tie the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter, and then connected with Griffin Norberg late in the second period on a five-yard touchdown. Seewald, who finished the game 14-of-29 for 137 yards, became the first true freshman quarterback to throw a TD pass for Valpo since 2011.
Hauling In Passes: Sophomore wide receiver Jean Rene led the Crusaders against the Pioneers with 64 receiving yards on three catches, continuing his trend of making big plays.Through two games, Rene is averaging 18 yards per catch, coming one season after he paced Valpo as he averaged 13.4 yards/reception. Rene’s touchdown catch in the first quarter against Sacred Heart was the sixth TD reception of his career, all in his last nine games.
Taking It to the House: Junior safety Kellan Hughes found paydirt in the season opener against Illinois State, intercepting a pass late in the second quarter and returning it 30 yards for a touchdown. For Hughes, it was his first touchdown in his time as a Crusader. Hughes, who also tallied nine tackles against the Redbirds, picked off a pass for the second straight week last Saturday at Sacred Heart and now has six career interceptions.
Standouts Versus Sacred Heart: A pair of Crusader linebackers had strong defensive performances last Saturday. Sophomore Drew Snouffer, who tallied just 16 tackles his entire freshman season, picked up a career-best and team-high 13 tackles versus the Pioneers. Meanwhile, fellow sophomore Nick Turner recorded a career-best 11 tackles against SHU after posting just 13 tackles last year as a rookie.
Earning Weekly Honors: Both Hughes and Jake Simpson picked up weekly awards from the Pioneer Football League office in week one, as Hughes was tabbed the PFL Defensive Player of the Week and Simpson was named the co-Special Teams Player of the Week. It was the first time the Crusaders have earned multiple weekly awards from the PFL in the same week since Oct. 12, 2008, when Valpo swept all three honors.
Returning Experience, But a Youthful Squad: A total of 12 of last year’s 22 starters return in 2016 for the Crusaders - seven on offense and five on defense. But of the 99 members of the roster, only five are in their senior season of eligibility, and only three of those five appear on the two-deep. In all, the 2016 Crusaders feature just 23 total upperclassmen on their roster as compared to 24 sophomores and 52 total freshmen, including 39 true freshmen.
Oh Captain My Captain: Valparaiso enters the 2016 season with three permanent captains: senior defensive back J.J. Nunes, junior wide receiver Frank Catrine and redshirt junior offensive lineman Brian Lang. The Crusaders will also be selecting an individual to serve as game captain for each game as well - against Trinity International, that will be redshirt junior running back Kenny Floyd.