- Val T.
Week 3 preview: Valley defense hopes to strong-arm Strong, Peru
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Peru (2-0, 1-0 Three Rivers Conference) at Tippecanoe Valley (1-1, 1-0), 7 p.m.
Peru has been in the Three Rivers Conference since 2015, but their football team has never traveled to Tippecanoe Valley until tonight. In fact, all four previous meetings in the history of the series have occurred at Peru.
Having said that, if Peru has its way, what might happen at Smith-Bibler Memorial Field — Home of Death Valley Football might resemble more of a track meet than a football game.
Peru averaged 37 points per game in wins over Logansport and Whitko to start the season, and they had 413 yards rushing against Whitko. Quarterback Levi Strong is a threat as both a runner and passer, and Dakota Scarlett has shown to be an adequate replacement for the graduated Daunte Majors after running for 187 yards and three touchdowns against Whitko.
“That’s our main concern is stopping him,” Valley coach Stephen Moriarty said of Strong. “He does pitch the ball, but at the same time, he knows when to pull it and run. Containing him will be one of our focuses this week. That’s for sure. But they have a lot of different weapons they like to use in the running game and the passing game.
“They run a lot of different offensive plays. It is more of a spread-out offense that tries to spread you out and divide you sorta thing. If you’re not watching your p’s and q’s and do your assignment, we could be in for a long night.”
Meanwhile, Valley will hope that its running game will continue to be effective as it was in an 18-10 win at Northfield last week. Alex Craft made his first career start and ran for 146 yards and two touchdowns, and Jamasyn Virgil ran for 100 yards on just six carries. Virgil also caught a touchdown pass.
Craft and Virgil will again be needed to step into the void created by Braden Shepherd’s injury. Moriarty declined to specify Shepherd’s exact injury that he suffered in a loss to Culver Academy Aug. 21, but he said Shepherd will miss his second straight game this week.
Craft missed the Culver Academy game because he had not participated in the minimum 10 practices, according to Moriarty. While he had previous varsity experience as both a wide receiver and defensive back, he had never started at running back before in a varsity game. He helped in multiple ways.
“I’m just glad that he showed up,” Moriarty said of Craft. “He had a good game. He’s very elusive. And one of his best features is he’s a really good blocker. And I think that’s what helped us a lot too for Jamasyn Virgil getting 100 yards rushing.”