Valpo finishes off La Porte
VALPARAISO — Wins and losses are the common measuring stick for a football team.
For coaches like La Porte’s Dave Sharpe, traits like pride and character amid adversity, like a 28-point second-quarter deficit on a Saturday morning, are an even bigger concern.
“Our kids love to play football,” Sharpe said. “Our goal was to prove to (Friday’s opponent) Chesterton that we had some fight, for them to see the (Friday) night time film and see the day time film and hope they see we came out a little different team. We wanted to see who came out incredibly energized and angry to take it out on someone in green jerseys.”
Faced with a 28-point deficit against Valpo when play resumed after Friday’s postponement, the Slicers put up more resistance in the remaining two-plus quarters, but they made no headway on the scoreboard, which read 38-8 at the end.
“We just ran into a team with too much size and speed for what we have,” Sharpe said. “We had to play a perfect first half and we did the opposite. I think Mishawaka (which beat Valpo in Week 2) poked a sleeping giant. Valpo’s offense came out guns ablazing. Realistically, our scores have to be like the Hobart game, 21-20, for us to have a chance. Obviously, this got out of hand early.”
La Porte rolled the dice right away when action re-started, going for it on fourth and 3 from its own 39 on its first series, only to have Isaac Alexander stuffed for a yard loss. Valpo pushed the margin to 31 with a 34-yard Eli Sewell field goal.
“We still had a minute chance to get back into it, but we felt like we had to get within 28-14 by halftime,” Sharpe said. “That’s why we went all in on the first possession.”
The score was the same late in the third quarter when Nick Halaschak recovered a muffed punt by Valpo’s Jesse Harper at the 48. The Slicers (0-3, 0-1 Duneland Athletic Conference) chugged 52 yards on 13 plays to get on the board with 10:18 left. Collin Bergquist, who made a tough 9-yard catch during the drive, surged in from four yards and Caleb Kuzdas ran in the two-point conversion.
As methodically as it took La Porte to break the ice, Valpo (1-2, 1-0 DAC) needed only one play to answer as Harper ripped off a 73-yard scoring dash.
“We knew coming into the year we had to slow down the tempo, slow the pace, to win games,” Sharpe said. “We have a (long drive) and Harper gets it back in one play.”
Valpo didn’t complete a pass in the Saturday portion of the game, but hardly needed to, given the sizeable spread. It rushed for 142 yards, over half of those coming on the Harper sprint.
“We told them the score may be 28-0 with 8:41 left in the second quarter, but it was 0-0 to us,” Vikings coach Bill Marshall said. “We kept the same format, the whole pre-game ritual. We wanted to keep everything like it was a normal game. We responded well. The defense came to play again. We left some points on the field and let teams put points on the board (the first two games). This is the first game where the entire team has played well in all phases of the game. It’s a great way to start the DAC. This gets the monkey off our back.”