BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The continued rise and undefeated regular season of the Tippecanoe Valley football program in its first year outside the Three Rivers Conference was the story of the local high school football season.
The continued rise from Nate Parker from gritty running back to excellent all-around player to superstar who is a threat to score every time he touches the ball was one of the main reasons why, and for his efforts, he is the RTC Football Player of the Year.
Parker was both the toughest player to step on the field – the fact that he played against Indianapolis Chatard in the sectional with a foot injury that would keep many of us from being able to walk much less play – and often times the fastest.
He was devastating on cutbacks and misdirection plays and screen passes and most everything else too.
The loss to Indianapolis Chatard was painful, but it was also worth noting how hard Valley continued to play while trailing by 40 points in the fourth quarter just to get Parker one last touchdown.
Now that the standard has been set even higher, it is worth remembering the role that Parker had in setting that standard.
Again, we thank area coaches for sending us stats as well as giving us their insights. We tried to interview every area coach during the week before every game, and we also had a lot of video at our disposal to aid us in our decisions.
This list is ours and ours alone, and we take full responsibility.
Nate Parker (Tippecanoe Valley) (Player of the Year) – Parker finished his career second on Valley’s all-time rushing list, but he was also a tremendous pass-catching threat out of the backfield as well as a great defensive back and kick returner.
Wade Jones (Tippecanoe Valley) – When the fastest player on the team might also be the most studious when it comes to his game preparation, you have the recipe for the greatest defensive back in Valley school history. He finished with 21 career interceptions, and who knows how many times opponents did not dare throw to his side of the field?
Alex Deming (Rochester) – Deming’s consistency and reliability were his hallmarks over the last three years. He just never had a bad game. Having said that, his carries per game this year went down, but his per-carry average went up to 8.2. Starting at linebacker but later moving to end by Week 3, he also led the defense in sacks.
Rylahn Toloza (Pioneer) – Toloza was a perfect fullback for Pioneer’s wing-T with his low center of gravity and aggressiveness at hitting the hole. He ran for 1,106 yards even though he missed two games due to injury.
Brady Beck (Rochester) – Beck put on 30-40 pounds since the end of the 2022 season but did not lose mobility and became an even more devastating offensive lineman from his left guard spot. He also was always near the ball at his defensive tackle spot, leading the team with 88 tackles.
Dalton Alber (Tippecanoe Valley) – With the exception of some glorious moments against John Glenn and Bremenm, Alber transitioned back from fullback to guard on offense. However, his biggest impact was at defensive end, where he finished with 13 tackles for loss.
Brant Beck (Rochester) – Brant Beck had over 1,000 yards rushing on fewer than 100 carries, which is pretty much unheard of. The lasting memory of him will be dragging several defenders an extra five yards on seemingly every carry.
Grant Yadon (Caston) – It was not a surprise that Yadon led Caston in receiving yards, but he was also the third-leading rusher, and he played some quarterback, and he was a devastating linebacker. He will be sorely missed.
Landon Durkes (Tippecanoe Valley) – Listed at 6-4 and 265 pounds, Durkes was another athletic marvel at Valley. He was a tough cover at tight end and hard to get past at outside linebacker.
Xavier Vance (Rochester) – Vance made the move from defensive end to defensive tackle and made it just about impossible for opponents to run in between the tackles. On offense, his size and mobility at left tackle often led the way for big Brant Beck runs.
Cayden Hill (Pioneer) – Hill was a four-year varsity player for Pioneer, and he was stout at safety all year, filling holes and recording 82 tackles. He also had 469 yards rushing.
Jack Rodgers (Culver) – Rodgers was a threat to take it all the way on most every touch, and that was most in evidence when he ran for 215 yards and three touchdowns in a sectional quarterfinal win over South Central (Union Mills). He was also a top kick returner and led the Cavaliers with 42 tackles from his linebacker spot.
Eli Guffey (Pioneer) – Pioneer went from two wins last year to five wins this year, and the emergence of Guffey was a big reason as he led the team with both 81 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss.
Brock Derf (Tippecanoe Valley) – Derf was a monster at middle linebacker for Valley, garnering 81 tackles, including 11 for loss. He also averaged 5.9 yards per carry on offense.
Colton Ferverda (Rochester) – Ferverda ran for 558 yards on 6.1 yards per carry, but he also had 53 tackles, including six for loss, on defense. Ferverda playing defense full-time and excelling at it was a big part of Rochester’s success.
Kyle Roudebush (Caston) – Roudebush had over 400 yards of total offense as both a rusher and a receiver, but his biggest contribution was on defense, where he led with 60 tackles from his linebacker spot.
Wyatt Wheeler (Winamac) – Wheeler gave the Warriors excellent blocking from his left tackle spot.
Kyler Johnson (Tippecanoe Valley) – If a team did not want to run to Alber’s side, they would then typically run into Johnson at the other defensive end and end up regretting it. Johnson is 6-6 and swallowed up runners if he could get his hands on them, whichw as often.
Jabez Yarber (Caston) – Yarber led Caston with 613 yards rushing on 6.3 yards per carry playing against an extraordinarily difficult schedule.
Jadon Jones (Winamac) – A late-season injury ended Jones’ season prematurely, but he was Winamac’s most explosive player when he was healthy.
Issiac Ramsey (Tippecanoe Valley) – Anybody who thinks that a 171-pound center cannot block effectively has not seen Ramsey play. He was so quick off the ball that he opened up holes for Parker, Jones, Derf, Alber, Grady Moriarty, Trent Marshall, Wes Parker, Brandon Stiles and many more.
Peyton Young (Rochester) – Young transformed his body in the weight room over the offseason, and that allowed him to play both sides of the line. That he was a good right guard on offense was no surprise, but he also excelled playing every down at defensive end.
Cameron Mason (Tippecanoe Valley)
Dylan Hook (Rochester)
Max Keller (Winamac)
Wesley Meadows (Rochester)
Trent Marshall (Tippecanoe Valley)
Pete DuVall (Caston)
Landen Rigney (Caston)
Noah VanMeter (Pioneer)
Levi Martin (Caston)
Brandon Stiles (Tippecanoe Valley)
Tyler Zellers (Pioneer)
Phillip Smith (Tippecanoe Valley)
Logan Caudill (Culver)
Shiloh Rine (Pioneer)
Carson Paulik (Rochester)
Maddox Bucinski (Winamac)
Gavin Mollenkopf (Caston)
Asher McGriff (Tippecanoe Valley)
Zakk Parks (Rochester)
Addison Allen (Winamac)
Grady Moriarty (Tippecanoe Valley)
Gage Overbey (Tippecanoe Valley)
RTC Football Player of the Year Nate Parker