Valparaiso (0-3, 0-0 PFL)
Game #4: Saturday, Sept. 22 - 3 p.m. CDT
at San Diego (1-2, 0-0 PFL)
Torero Stadium (7,000 - Grass) - San Diego, Calif.
This Week in Crusader Football: Valparaiso kicks off the Pioneer Football League schedule this Saturday with the longest road trip of the year as it makes the nearly 2,000 mile trip out to the West Coast, where the Crusaders face San Diego at 3 p.m. CDT.
Previously: The Crusaders jumped out to a 17-7 lead less than 12 minutes into Saturday afternoon's game against Duquesne at Brown Field, but the Dukes scored the game's final 38 points as Valparaiso fell by a 45-17 score. Eric Hoffman snuck in from one yard out and also hit Mike Gerton with a touchdown pass in the opening quarter as Valpo gained 176 yards offensively, but the Crusaders were limited to just 115 yards the rest of the way.
Next Up: Following a bye week, the Crusaders return home for Homecoming on Saturday, October 6 as Valpo welcomes in-state rival Butler for a 1 p.m. kickoff.
On the Air: For the eighth straight season, the Valpo Sports Radio Network will be home to all 11 Crusader football games in 2012. All 11 games can be heard live on WAKE (1500 AM, Valparaiso), online through www.valpoathletics.com or by downloading the WAKE Radio app for Android or iPhone devices. Todd Ickow will handle all the play-by-play, with Travis Lucian adding the color commentary this week.
Head Coach Dale Carlson: Dale Carlson is 1-24 in his third season with the Crusaders and 111-127-3 overall entering his 24th season as a collegiate head coach. He arrived at Valpo from Ohio Dominican where 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 the 16th head coach in Valpo history, and just the seventh since 1946.
Series Notes: Valpo and San Diego have met 19 times on the gridiron, with the Toreros owning a 14-5 edge in the all-time series. San Diego has won the last eight meetings, including a 55-14 victory last season at Brown Field. The Crusaders’ last win in the series came on Oct. 18, 2003 during their PFL championship campaign, a 41-34 victory.
Scouting San Diego: San Diego enters Saturday’s game with a 1-2 record on the season, defeating Western New Mexico and falling to Cal Poly and #24 Harvard. The Toreros were named preseason PFL favorites after sharing the league championship in 2011. Mason Mills has seen the vast majority of the action under center and is averaging 265 yards/game through the air, completing 63% of his passes and throwing for five touchdowns thus far. Brandon White has been his favorite target, catching 24 passes for 278 yards and a pair of touchdowns. San Diego has been out-gained on the ground so far this year, 718-142.
Wrapping Up 2011: The Crusaders captured their first win of the Dale Carlson era in the home finale last year by defeating Campbell, 34-31. Valpo ended the season 1-10 and 1-7 in PFL play, but returns plenty of experience for 2012, as six starters are back on both sides of the ball.
Beginning PFL Play: The Crusaders are looking to start out PFL play on the right foot for the first time since the 2006 season on Saturday. Valpo has lost its PFL opener in five consecutive seasons, with its last PFL-opening win coming on Sept. 16, 2006, a 42-35 triumph at Morehead State.
Starting Out Strong: Valpo came up with points on each of its first three possessions against Duquesne last Saturday, kicking a field goal on its first twip before scoring back-to-back touchdowns. It marked the first time that the Crusaders had scored at least 17 first-quarter points, as well as their first time scoring on each of their first three possessions, since a 41-27 loss to San Diego on Oct. 6, 2007.
Spreading the Ball Around: Redshirt sophomore quarterback Eric Hoffman went 22-of-38 passing the ball against the Dukes, and continued to target a number of different receivers. Nine different Crusaders caught passes last Saturday, led by five receptions for 45 yards by Mike Gerton. Through just three games, 12 different players have already picked up multiple receptions, paced by 12 from Gerton.
Hutson Carries the Ball: Through his first two collegiate games, redshirt freshman running back Jake Hutson carried the ball just 11 times. But Hutson matched that total against Duquesne and looked strong, averaging 4.7 yards per carry (52 total yards) while also catching a pair of passes for 11 yards.
Gokan Racks Up the Tackles: Fifth-year senior linebacker Cody Gokan had Valpo’s top single-game tackles performance of the year last Saturday against Duquesne, racking up 13 tackles. The 13 stops were the second-most in a single game in Gokan’s career, trailing just a 17-tackle effort at Western Illinois as a sophomore, while his seven solo tackles also were the second most of his career. On the year, he ranks second on the team with 20 tackles, trailing just junior defensive back Alex Grask (28).
Putting Up Points: While the Crusaders came up just short of the victory in their season opener, they lit up the scoreboard to the tune of 34 points. The 34 points scored matches the second-most in a single game by a Valpo team since the start of the 2009 campaign, eclipsed only by last year’s season opener, when the Crusaders scored 35 in a loss to Franklin.
Team Captains: Valpo entered the 2012 season with a pair of captains, with senior tight end Mike Gerton representing the offense and senior cornerback Alan Porter Jr. representing the defense. Due to a season-ending injury to Porter, junior safety Alex Grask has been appointed defensive captain for the rest of the season.
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 San Diego to take home the 2012 championship.