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  • Val T.

Week 11 preview: After a year waiting, Valley gets Mishawaka Marian again


Sports Editor, RTC

Class 3A, Sectional 26 semifinal: Mishawaka Marian (7-3) at Tippecanoe Valley (10-0), 7 p.m.

Valley’s Wade Jones had a historic day as part of a historic season in last week’s 22-8 quarterfinal win at Garrett.

Jones, a sophomore safety, set a Valley single-game record with four interceptions. He now owns the Valley single-season interception record with 10. And his 10 interceptions are tied with Wheeler’s Austin Goodrich for the state lead.

“He does a great job of reading the quarterback and being able to know,” Valley coach Stephen Moriarty said. “He’s a center fielder basically. I guess it would be their pattern of routes, and he knows what’s coming at him. He does a great job of anticipating where the open receiver would be.”

Moriarty also earned some recognition after the game. He was named the Indiana Football Coaches Association’s coach of the week for Region 2 for the second time this season. (The statewide award went to Leo coach Jared Sauder.)

Jamasyn Virgil ran for 185 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, and Braden Shepherd had four receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown, and Jones also caught one of Branson McBrier’s two touchdown passes.

Both Virgil (1,066) and Shepherd (1,063) have accounted for more than 1,000 yards of offense each for the season.

And their 10-0 record marks the first time they have started a season with a 10-game winning streak in 40 years.

But now might be their biggest challenge. No. 12 Mishawaka Marian is the six-time defending sectional champion. They started 0-2 but have gone 7-1 since. They have five wins over teams in higher classes while Valley has only one.

Sophomore quarterback Bryce LaSane has over 1,300 yards passing, and running back Kaleb Lusanga has 939 yards rushing, including 140 in a 49-14 win over South Bend Washington last week.

But the biggest offensive weapon might be senior wide receiver Greg Atkinson, who has 33 receptions for 726 yards and nine touchdowns.

Defensively, senior linebackers Setefano Sete and Michael Murphy are the top tacklers.

“All three of their linebackers out of their 11 last year when we played them, and Sete sitting in the middle is the one that caused us a lot of damage last year,” Moriarty said. “What a hard-nosed kid. He is truly an all-state middle linebacker. The way he flies to the ball, he changes the game, so you have to get somebody up there to block him, or he will cause havoc to any of your running game.”

This week’s game against Mishawaka Marian is seemingly the test of all their work to get to this point. Valley’s 41-24 loss to the Knights in the sectional semifinals – Valley trailed 41-0 at one point – was seemingly an indirect message directed to the Vikings on how hard they needed to work to get to an elite level.

If last year’s game was a message, this year’s game is a test.

“Since the very last game of the season last year, we met as a team and tried to figure out, OK, so how do we get to that level that we can compete?” Moriarty said. “A lot of time in the weight room in the offseason. Going through and mastering our plays. And throughout the season so far, I think it’s paid off. And now we’ll get to see firsthand if the work we’ve done in the offseason has done enough to compete with a Mishawaka Marian.

“And so, our kids have been very, very focused this week.”

(Winner plays John Glenn-Jimtown winner in the sectional final on Nov. 5.)

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