Week One Keys: Tippecanoe Valley vs. Wawasee
By Baylen Hite
Well… We have finally made it to week one. No more preseason rankings, no more speculation, no more scrimmages. It’s finally time for the real deal. Kickoff of high school football in Indiana.
After an exciting offseason Tippecanoe Valley Football is hoping for a successful first stanza in their opener against the Wawasee Warriors. Here are a few keys to watch for on Friday night if the Vikings want to capture a win.
The Vikings have spent the offseason retooling their offensive line after graduating five seniors last season. While it might not look like a traditional Valley offensive line in terms of size, this unit is going to be quick.
The return of Camron Mason has been noticeable in offseason scrimmages and in practice. Mason missed nearly all of last season due to injury. Another important factor up front will be Dalton Alber, who moved from fullback to guard and has transitioned seamlessly .
The group’s main emphasis will be protecting quarterback Cody Eastgate. While also giving the push up front to preseason 1st-team running back Nate Parker. The senior caught national and statewide attention after rushing for 1,375 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Valley’s defense may be one of the most complete unit’s in the Steven Moriarty era. They are fast, strong, and smart. All things that are important to a great brick wall. Defense could make or break many games for the Vikings this season with a loaded schedule that features 3 teams who are ranked in various preseason rankings.
The importance of defense was evident in the previous two matchups with the Warriors including last year when the Vikings pitched a 26-0 shutout. In that game Valley forced 4 turnovers including 2 interceptions from quarterback Mason Shoemaker.
One of the big things to watch on Friday is how Shoemaker responds for Wawasee against a defense that challenged him a season ago. If Valley can repeat their performance they will likely end up on the winning side. Look for players like Landon Durkes, Wade Jones, and Dalton Alber to all play big roles for the defensive eleven and watch out for players like Grady Moriatry and Wes Parker to make impacts as sophomores.
Full Four Quarters
One of the biggest reasons for a schedule change was the level of competition across a full four quarters. Not to say Valley wasn’t challenged in the TRC but from week to week it wasn’t uncommon for the running clock to be in effect and the starters seeing extended rest. That won’t be the case this season for Tippecanoe Valley. The Vikings will have to be ready week in and week out for what coach Steven Moriarty said would be a “war like we haven’t seen in a while”.
How the Vikings respond to playing a complete four quarters could very well be the difference between a win and loss especially against a larger school like Wawasee. Despite the Warriors previous struggles a new look Wawasee team will be just as hungry for a week one win as the Vikings will be.
With plenty of excitement for the upcoming season Tippecanoe Valley will have to take games week by week with a new look schedule. Without a conference championship to play for and a week two rivalry matchup with Rochester waiting in the wings. It will be imperative for the Vikings to capture an opening week win over Wawasee.
You can listen to the Vikings all season long on 107.3 WRSW. Join Baylen Hite, Micah Lukens, and the legendary Rita Price for pregame coverage starting at 6:30 pm and kickoff at 7 pm.