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  • Val T.

Week 10 football preview: Valley defense to try to hone in on Panthers’ read option


Sports Editor, RTC

South Bend Washington (3-6) at Tippecanoe Valley (6-3), 7 p.m.

Playing with a chance to tie for the Three Rivers Conference title last week, Valley lost to Class 1A, No. 3 Southwood 32-8.

Freshman Dalton Alber ran 49 yards for a touchdown and also added a two-point conversion run in the fourth quarter. But by that point, Valley was already facing a 32-point deficit.

Asked if Valley ran the ball as effectively as he thought they needed to, Valley coach Stephen Moriarty said “not as effectively as what we needed to to win.”

“Their safeties and corners played awfully tight,” Moriarty added. “They’re exceptional in the secondary. They came up, and even their cornerbacks came up for a two-yard loss. Their experience all around is what hurt us.”

Meanwhile, Southwood quarterback Alex Farr threw for 227 yards and three touchdowns. Southwood’s big-play passing attack is not one in which you want to have a shorthanded secondary.

“Once Wade Jones got knocked out, we were down to three left basically, four left,” Moriarty said. “We’re hurting pretty good. Because Wade Jones got knocked out in the first quarter, and (middle linebacker) Johnny (Gonsalez) got knocked out … so a lot of kids are getting the opportunity to play that normally wouldn’t. But their quarterback’s phenomenal. What a great athlete, and you can tell that he’s been in the system for four years, and he’s good at it.”

While Farr is a senior that operates out of the spread, Valley’s challenge will be different this week as they prepare to play South Bend Washington in a Class 3A, Sectional 26 quarterfinal.

Washington sophomore quarterback Jeremy Johnson ran for 137 yards and threw two touchdown passes in a 35-13 win over John Glenn last week. Moriarty describes South Bend Washington’s offense as a read option, which means that Johnson will be making decisions based on the movements and alignments of Valley’s defense.

Moriarty compared South Bend Washington’s offense to Rochester.

“He does a good job of riding his fakes,” Moriarty said of Johnson. “With their read option, he does a great job of being able to conceal the ball. … It’s hard to tell if he’s got it or not. And he does a good job of getting around the corner, and also he doesn’t give many interceptions away. He doesn’t have many turnovers. He does a good job of protecting the ball.”

South Bend Washington closed the season with two straight wins after a 1-6 start. South Bend Washington has two wins over teams in higher classes while Valley has none. Four of the Panthers’ six losses have also come against higher class teams.

“They’ve played very tough competition, and their losses have came to pretty big schools,” Moriarty said. “Elkhart, Mishawaka Marian, Jimtown … Their losses have been to legit bit schools. They’re really a good team up front – big, physical. We’ll have to play well to beat them for sure, if we’re to compete.”

Moriarty said that Braden Shepherd, Alex Craft, Hunter Eherenman, Ben Bowser and Jones are all out for this game. Gonzalez is questionable.

Valley edged South Bend Washington 19-14 at School Field in last year’s sectional quarterfinals. Valley has not won a postseason home game since 2002.

There will be no ticket presale. Tickets, which are $6, will be available at the gate.

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