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Optimism Gives Way to Disappointment for Valpo
VALPARAISO - Optimism oozed from Valparaiso’s players and coaches during training camp in August.
A new ProGrass artificial surface on Brown Field welcomed the Crusaders back to campus, and high hopes were fueled by the return of 18 starters including senior quarterback Warren Arnold and several talented athletes on defense.
But once the games began, the mentality changed.
The Crusaders were shut out in their season opener in a torrential downpour in Joliet against Saint Francis. They were pounded 42-14 in their Pioneer Football League opener at San Diego, and then had a four-game losing streak after a surprising overtime win against Davidson.
A 3-8 overall record, 2-6 in the PFL, isn’t what the Crusaders or coach Stacy Adams expected. But that’s what they got, a couple steps behind last year’s 5-6, 2-5 mark.
“It was disappointing,” Adams said. “Our players went into the conference season expecting to compete, but after we lost that first conference game the effort that we were getting from the players wasn’t what we wanted.
“In their minds, if we couldn’t win conference, what were we there for?”
Valpo lost five of its last six games, ending with a disastrous 32-0 loss to Drake last Saturday. The lone victory was against new PFL foe Campbell, which fielded a team for the first time since 1950.
The Crusaders placed eighth in the nine-team PFL, just two games ahead of Campbell. And it wasn’t so much the losing that stung, but the way the Crusaders lost.
After the Davidson game on Oct. 12, Valpo’s offense failed to score in the second half of every game except for against Campbell. Defensively, a unit that returned 10 starters ranked next to last in the PFL in rushing defense at 205.3 yards per game. Silly penalties and costly turnovers also haunted VU.
“Our weakness was discipline,” Adams said. “By far, it seems to us if something bad was going to happen, it was going to happen at a crucial time.”
Adams will spend next week conducting individual meetings with the players after they return from Thanksgiving break. Discipline will be the theme.
“We’ll cover the things that each payer needs to improve upon to make our team better,” Adams said.
Local contributors this season included Chesterton graduate Ryan Myers, a redshirt freshman who led the team in receiving with 21 catches for 269 yards and one touchdown. Defensive back Anthony Curry (Merrillville) led the PFL with seven interceptions.
“Personally, I think I had a good season,” Curry said. “But we all have to work hard in the offseason to do our job better.
“The whole season we never played a full game to our potential. That was our problem.”
Next season, other local players expected to see more action will be defensive lineman Brian Goodaker (Valparaiso), offensive lineman Nate Blair (Andrean), receiver Travis Anderson (Chesterton) and defensive back Billy Doll (Portage).
“The character of the kids was outstanding,” Adams said. “All of our guys will end up doing very well for themselves in life.
“We enjoy our kids, and we wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. The only thing is I wish we would have gotten off to a faster start. If that would have happened, we would have had a different season.”
Optimism gives way to disappointment for VU football
By Paul Jankowski, The Northwest Indiana Times