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  • Val T.

Week 10 preview: Strong Chatard defense to face surging Valley ground game


Sports Editor, RTC

Tippecanoe Valley (9-0) at Indianapolis Chatard (9-0), 7 p.m.

(Winner plays Guerin Catholic-Peru winner in Class 3A, Sectional 28 semifinals)

The Tippecanoe Valley football team’s rushing attack continues to pound away at its opponent no matter who is running the ball.

Both Nate Parker and Brandon Stiles missed last week’s game against Bremen, but Valley still accumulated 391 yards in a 51-16 win thanks to the previously unheralded Wyatt Hart, who ran for 183 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries.

Hart, Trent Marshall, Wes Parker and even Dalton Alber might be classic examples of adhering to the “next-man-up” credo that football coaches at all levels espouse.

And “next-man-up” might well be heard again this week as Parker and Stiles are once again out with foot injuries for the sectional quarterfinal game against Indianapolis Chatard.

Against John Glenn in a 37-14 win on Oct. 7, Valley ran for 253 yards even though Parker was hurt and no individual back ran for as many as 50 yards. The week before that, Parker ran for 236 of Valley’s 371 yards in a 35-13 win at West Lafayette. Before that, it was a 346-yard ground stampede in a win over Jimtown. Before that, they ran for 413 yards in beating Culver Academy.

The depth has helped Valley score 30 or more points in eight straight games, a feat not even the undefeated regular season teams of 2021, 1987, 1981 or 1977 accomplished. Only the 1979 state championship team has done that in school history.

“I would definitely say so,” Valley coach Stephen Moriarty said of Hart being the next man up. “He’s done a great job this year in JV. He is getting better. … The good thing about Wyatt Hart is that he has that ability to make people miss. He runs very well north and south, and his vision’s good. … It was nice to see him get that opportunity to showcase his talent on a Friday night.”

However, in what might be their most significant postseason game in 30 years, No. 3 Valley will travel to Indianapolis Chatard to take on the top-ranked Trojans.

A 16-time state champion, Indianapolis Chatard has posted an identical 9-0 record as Valley, and they have three wins over Class 6A teams on their list of conquests.

Indianapolis Chatard allows only nine points per game, and they have allowed just 23 points total in their last five games. The Trojans run a 3-4 defense in which inside linebacker Luke Puricha and outside linebacker Sam Feeney are keystones.

Luke Purichia is the son of Vince Purichia, the quarterback of the 1987 Indianapolis Ritter team that lost to Rochester in the Class 2A state title game. The elder Purichia, who later was the head coach at Indianapolis Ritter, is an assistant coach on Rob Doyle’s current staff at Chatard. Jake Purichia, Luke’s older brother, is the IHSAA career record holder for touchdown passes with 140.

“Number 10 (Feeney) plays that outside ‘WILL’ (weak side) linebacker,” Moriarty said. “Both of them are being heavily recruited. They do run a 3-4. With a 3-4, they’re more gap control. They do like to blitz quite a bit. Their outside linebackers do a great job of containing, which on toss and stuff that we run, they will be flying up quite hard. … They’re so very fast and well-disciplined.”

Offensively, Indianapolis Chatard is averaging 32 points per game, and they are coming off a 34-7 win over Cincinnati Elder last week. Returning from injury, senior quarterback Aidan Arteaga is listed as the starter this week, but backup Jack Harrington completed 75 percent of his passes and threw for 154 yards and two touchdowns against Cincinnati Elder.

He’ll have to keep an eye on Valley safety Wade Jones, who has intercepted four passes in his last two games.

Meanwhile, Daniel Shaw ran for 98 yards on 15 carries last week, but Riley Kinnett is also a ball-carrying threat.

But the Valley run defense, led by defensive ends Kyler Johnson and Dalton Alber, has allowed only one opponent – Rochester in Week 2 – to run for as many as 100 yards in a game.

Top Chatard wide receivers include Colin Guy and Jack Weybright.

Moriarty said Indianapolis Chatard will run the ball about 59 percent of the time.

“Not every snap is out of the shotgun, but the majority are,” Moriarty said of Indianapolis Chatard’s spread offense. “It really is identical to West Lafayette’s offense. They like inside zone, power read. Those are the base plays, and then they will throw the ball quite a bit. They run the ball a little bit more than West Lafayette did.”

If Valley wins, they would host either Guerin Catholic or Peru in the sectional semifinals. Valley has won their sectional opener five consecutive years, but they have not made a sectional final since 1993 or won a sectional title since 1992.

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