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  • Val T.

Week 3 preview: Valley defense to try to slow down Ross, Roettger


Sports Editor, RTC

Peru (1-1, 1-0 Three Rivers Conference) at Tippecanoe Valley (2-0, 1-0), 7 p.m.

Wade Jones’ speed set the tone, and players like Nate Parker followed in Valley’s 49-19 win over Northfield last week.

Jones had a 65-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage, and Valley’s quarterback trio of Parker, Cody Eatsgate and Marcus Jansma combined to go 6 for 6.

Northfield was coming off a shutout in their opener against Bluffton, but the 49 points were the most points Northfield has allowed in a game since Southern Wells scored 59 points on them in the 2008 sectional.

“I think it was good because we were worried about their defense and being aggressive,” Valley coach Stephen Moriarty said of the importance of Jones’ long run on the first play. “We had a game plan that where we were going to attack the outside a little bit on them, and to have success that very first play turned the tide right away or pushed the momentum in our favor.”

This week, Valley will play a Peru team that is coming off a 60-0 win over Whitko last week. Alex Ross ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns to help the Tigers bounce back from a 44-0 loss to Logansport in their opener and give coach Tim Weeks his first win as coach.

Meanwhile, other keys to the Peru offense include running back Zack Smithers and junior Matt Roettger, who is in his third year on the varsity but his first year as quarterback.

Moriarty said Roettger is a threat in the way Northfield quarterback Mason Fisher was a threat.

“He’s just so athletic,” Moriarty said. “I think anything he does, he does it well. And that was our major concern with Northfield was slowing him down because he’s so athletic. If we can slow him down, we thought we’d have a chance, and I thought we did that OK.”

Moriarty also said Valley must account for the midline, veer and option every play.

Meanwhile, the Peru defense has held their opponent to single digits eight times since the start of the 2020 season.

“Their defense does a good job of flying to the ball,” Moriarty said. “They’re very aggressive, and they do like to blitz quite a bit. And their front four linemen are very tough, very strong kids and they play well off the ball. The thing about them is they do a good job of gang tackling. They swarm the ball correctly.”

The road team has won the last four meetings in the series. Valley won 45-9 at Bengal Memorial Stadium last year.

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