Valpo Football Heads to Western Illinois Thursday
The Crusader seniors begin their final season of collegiate football Thursday at Western Illinois. (Aran Kessler)
Valpo Football Heads to Western Illinois Thursday
Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Valparaiso (0-0, 0-0 PFL)
Game #1: Thursday, Sept. 2, 6 p.m. CDT
at Western Illinois (0-0, 0-0 MVFC)
Hanson Field (16,368 - Grass) - Macomb, Ill.

This Week in Crusader Football: A new era in Valparaiso University football opens on Thursday evening as the Crusaders battle Western Illinois, a NCAA I-FCS scholarship program.  First year head coach Dale Carlson takes the reigns for the first time at Valpo, and leads the Brown and Gold into its 90th season of intercollegiate football.

On the Air: For the sixth straight season the Valpo Sports Radio Network will be home to all 11 Crusader football games in 2009.  The Valpo Sports Radio Network consists of WAKE (1500-AM, Valparaiso) and WE-FM (95.9-FM, Michigan City).  Todd Ickow will handle all the play-by-play with Dick Harlan adding the color commentary this week.  The game can also be heard live online at www.valpoathletics.com.  Live stats will also be available for the game through www.valpoathletics.com.

Head Coach Dale Carlson: Dale Carlson is 0-0 in his first season with the Crusaders and 110-103-3 overall entering his 22nd season as a collegiate head coach.  He arrived at Valpo from Ohio Dominican where he was 7-3 last season and 36-27 over six years.  He began the Ohio Dominican program from scratch in 2004, just as he did at Tri-State University prior to his tenure with the Panthers.  He is now the 16th head coach in Valpo history, and just the seventh since 1946.

Series Notes:
The Crusaders and Leathernecks are meeting on the gridiron for the first time ever on Thursday evening.  Valparaiso and Western Illinois have met numerous times in other sports though, as both schools were members of the Mid-Continent Conference in every sport except for football prior to the Crusaders’ departure for the Horizon League in 2007. 

Putting 2009 in the Past: Valpo looks to put the 2009 campaign in the past as the Crusaders finished the year 1-10 overall and 0-8 in the Pioneer Football League.  The bright spot, however, is that the last time the Brown and Gold finished a year 1-10 and winless in the PFL (2002), the Crusaders went on to win the PFL title the following season (2003).  This year 39 letterwinners return to the squad, including six starters on each side of the football.

Scouting Western Illinois: The Leathernecks finished 1-10 overall and 0-8 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.  Mark Hendrickson, who has been a member of the Western Illinois coaching staff for the past 11 seasons, begins his first as the Leathernecks head coach.  Western Illinois returns six starters on offense and five on defense for this season as part of 38 total returning letterwinners.  Linebacker Kyle Glazier, wide receiver Lito Senatus, and return specialist Todd Speight all earned preseason All-America honors heading into the 2010 season.  The Leathernecks are picked to finish eighth in the MVFC this season.

Valpo in Season Openers: The Crusaders are 46-40-3 (.534) all-time in season openers, and had their three-year season-opening win streak snapped in 2009 after suffering a 31-6 loss at Saint Joseph’s (Ind.).  Valpo is 23-16-2 (.585) all-time when opening the season on the road, and is starting away from Brown Field for the second consecutive season.

All-League Selections Return:
Offensive lineman Nate Blair and defensive lineman Nikko Carson both return for their junior seasons after earning Honorable Mention All-Pioneer Football League accolades in 2009.  Blair started all 11 games at left tackle, helping to anchor the front five for the Crusaders.  Carson also started all 11 games at defensive tackle, making 43 total tackles, including a team-leading 11 for loss.  He also forced a fumble and recovered another.

Historic Night Set for Communiversity Day: The Crusaders’ home opener against Saint Joseph’s (Ind.) on September 18 will mark the first night football game ever played on the Valparaiso University campus.  The game is also part of Communiversity Day at Valpo, which also includes a home volleyball match against Butler (at 4 p.m.), a tailgate complete with a barbeque dinner, and a fun-filled carnival atmosphere.  A fireworks display will cap the night’s activities.

Valpo to Face First NCAA I-FCS Scholarship Program Since 2005:
Valparaiso has not played a NCAA Division I-FCS scholarship program since September 10, 2005 when the Brown and Gold traveled to Brookings, S.D. and suffered a 69-6 loss at South Dakota State.  Since 1997, the Crusaders have also faced Yale (twice), South Florida (in its final season before moving to Division I-BCS), Tennessee Tech, and North Dakota State.

Thursday Night Lights: Playing on Thursday night for a season opener is nothing new for the Crusaders.  The Brown and Gold last played on a Thursday just two years ago, on September 4, 2008, a 21-0 loss at Saint Francis (Ill.) in a game played in a driving rain storm. 

Team Captains: Valpo will have co-captains for the 2010 season.  Senior defensive back Eli Crawford will represent the defense while redshirt-sophomore Eddie Morelli will represent the offense heading into the season opener.

Crusaders Picked 10th in Preseason Poll:
The head coaches selected Valparaiso to finish 10th in the Pioneer Football League this season according to the preseason poll.  The prognosticators selected Dayton to take home the 2010 championship.

This and That: Bobby Wysocki enters the year leading Valpo with 783 career passing yards and 237 career rushing yards ... Ryan Myers is the team’s top returning receiver with 516 career yards ... Roger Satur is the top returning tackler with 78 career stops ... Nikko Carson enters 2010 with a team-leading 14 career tackles for loss.