- Val T.
Season wrap-up: Moriarty praises players’ work ethic after season-ending loss to Guerin Catholic
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Guerin Catholic was leading Tippecanoe Valley 20-7 in the third quarter of their Class 3A, Sectional 28 semifinal last week when Guerin coach Tom Dilley decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 16.
Guerin Catholic tried to draw Valley offsides but failed and called timeout.
On the first play after a timeout, Justin Zdobylak sprinted through a hole and ran 84 yards for a touchdown. Valley was unable to chase down both Zdobylak and their first sectional final appearance since 1993. This also marked the fifth straight year they have lost in the sectional semifinals, and all five losses occurred at home.
“We had loaded the box up pretty heavy, and they just found a seam, and after we had put everybody in the box, there was nobody back for safety,” Valley coach Stephen Moriarty said. “And once he broke the line of scrimmage, he was gone.”
Moriarty said that Guerin Catholic’s big plays and Valley’s penalties significantly contributed to the loss.
“We had some situations where we had stopped them early on in the first quarter, and then we started driving and got across the 50, and they hadn’t scored yet, and we had back-to-back penalties just for false starts, and that can be attributed to some nerves going against a bigger school like them,” Moriarty said. “That didn’t help us. … What killed us too was we’d have them in third-and-long, and they’d hit a big one.”
Despite the loss, Valley finished 9-2 and finished with their fifth straight winning season.
Valley shared the Three Rivers Conference title despite graduating seven first-team all-conference players last year.
Moriarty just finished his sixth season as coach. He said it took three years to advance from a place where they “bounce back” after a season to the point where they now “reload.” Players learn the offensive and defensive systems at the youth levels, so by the time they reach the varsity, they are “fine-tuning” concepts they already know. That leads to a sense of “pride and tradition.”
“I don’t think that anybody expected us to be as good as what we were,” Moriarty said. “That kind of goes back to contributing for the hard work that they did in the offseason to fill those spots. And the players did nothing but go hard all of the time and put the time in to get better. To have a 9-2 season, yes, we would have liked to have been 10-1 and had that last conference game (a 28-26 loss to Southwood on Oct. 14) and then I think too, if we played Guerin again, it’s a different game.
“Pleased, yes, but not satisfied.”