Wednesday, August 31, 2005

WHEN: Saturday, September 3, 2005, 6 p.m. CDT.

WHERE: Warrior Field (1,500), Milwaukee, Wis.

RADIO: Valpo Sports Radio Network (WVUR, 95.1-FM, Valparaiso; WAKE, 1500-AM, Valparaiso; Relevant Radio 1270-AM, Gary; and WE-FM, 95.9-FM, Michigan City). Also available on the web at Todd Ickow will handle the play-by-play with Brent Whitlock providing the color commentary.

TV: None.

THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Stacy Adams, who is in his 1st season as the Crusader head coach. He is 0-0 overall and at Valpo. Wisconsin Lutheran is led by Dr. Dennis Miller, who is 94-87 in his 18th season overall and 17-32 in his 5th season with the Warriors.

SERIES RECORD: Valparaiso leads the all-time series with Wisconsin Lutheran 2-0. This marks the first meeting between the schools in Milwaukee.

LAST MEETING: Valpo jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead on the way to a 41-0 victory over the Warriors on September 4, 2004 at Brown Field. The Crusaders scored on an interception return for a touchdown along with a blocked punt recovered in the end zone, in addition to four offensive touchdowns. The Crusaders held Wisconsin Lutheran to just 135 yards of total offense while rolling up 447 of their own.

Valparaiso begins its 85th season of collegiate football on Saturday afternoon as the Brown and Gold travel to Milwaukee, Wis. to battle Wisconsin Lutheran.

VALPO IN OPENERS: Valparaiso is 43-36-3 all-time in season openers, with the results of the 1925 and 1926 openers unknown. Last season, the Crusaders fell 52-0 at North Dakota State in the opener, and are on the road to begin the season for the third straight season. Valpo has dropped four straight openers, with the last victory coming in 2000, 32-12 against Tri-State.

BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA: Stacy Adams takes over as the head coach of the Crusaders after 16-year head coach Tom Horne resigned in late July. Adams is the 15th head coach in Crusader history and just the sixth since 1946. He was Valpo's offensive coordinator for the past eight years and has been on the Crusader sidelines since 1991.

VALPO TABBED FOURTH IN PFL NORTH: Valparaiso was picked to finish in a tie for fourth place with Butler in the Pioneer Football League's North Division in the preseason poll of the league's head coaches. Drake is the preseason favorite in the division, while Morehead State was tabbed the favorite in the South Division.

CRUSADERS TOP PFL PASS DEFENSE IN 2004: Valparaiso led the PFL in pass defense last season, allowing just 128.8 passing yards per game.

CYRIER LEAGUE'S TOP PUNT RETURNER LAST SEASON: Joel Cyrier returns for his junior year after leading the PFL in punt returns last year. He averaged 8.9 yards per return with a long of 26 yards.

TOP DEFENDERS MAKE OPPONENTS THINK: Senior safety Brad Smeja and classmate Brandon Sturman look to make it difficult yet again for opponents on offense. Smeja led Valpo with 79 tackles while Sturman added 54 total tackles, including six for loss. Sturman also intercepted two passes and added a fumble recovery.

DOWN THE ROAD: Valparaiso will take on an NCAA Division I-AA scholarship school next Saturday as the Crusaders head to Brookings, S.D. to face South Dakota State. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. The Crusaders will then open the home portion of the 2005 season on September 17 when the Brown and Gold entertain Morehead State in a noon kickoff.

Wisconsin Lutheran kicks off their sixth season of collegiate football, and competes at the NCAA Division III level. Last year, the Warriors were 2-8 overall and 2-5 in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, finishing in a tie for sixth place.

The Warriors were tabbed to finish seventh in the MIAA this season in the preseason poll. They return 47 letterwinners from last year's squad, including 13 starters, six on offense and seven on defense.

Junior Matt Kehl is the team's top returning rusher, averaging 102 yards per game last season. He found the end zone eight times for the Warriors, and was second on the squad in receiving, averaging 16.4 yards per catch.

Jake Lepke returns at linebacker as the team's top tackler last year with 93 tackles. Mike Olson also brought down 87 ball carriers.