Week 4 football preview: Back pain: After loss to Peru, banged-up Valley to face North Miami
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Tippecanoe Valley (1-2, 1-1 Three Rivers Conference) at North Miami (1-2, 0-2), 7 p.m.
Valley scored first against Peru last week, but the Tigers came back to win 21-18 to hand Valley their first conference loss.
A 78-yard halfback option pass for a touchdown in the second half and a blocked field goal helped Peru avenge a loss to Valley last year.
The trick play was somewhat frustrating as Peru struggled to move the ball in the second half in their conventional offense. Still, Valley coach Stephen Moriarty wants the defensive fundamentals to improve.
“I think that overall our tackling needs to improve,” Moriarty said. “We need to wrap up. I think we’re finally getting in position. We’re just unable to bring them down. And I think the other thing is too, those big plays killed us. They had two big plays, one coming out of half and their toss pass towards the end of the game there where they scored. They had to go to some trickery to finally get some points on us.
“Overall, defensively, I don’t think we did horribly. I just think we’ve got little things we need to improve on.”
Valley hopes to get Alex Craft back this week. Craft had 76 yards rushing last week before he had to sit out the fourth quarter with an injury. Craft was filling in for Braden Shepherd in the backfield. Shepherd will miss his third straight game this week with an injury that he suffered against Culver Academy Aug. 21.
“With the injury to Craft sitting out the fourth quarter, it did hinder us a bit both offensively and defensively,” Moriarty said. “I think we have some things we need to improve on. What kills us sometimes is the little mistakes that end up being scores.”
Moriarty maintains confidence in his players while undergoing some self-examination on some of his own decisions.
“We’re a good football team,” Moriarty said. “We just maybe overlooked Peru a little bit, which is a very good team and took for granted some opportunities that we should have grabbed that we didn’t. Coaching-wise, I think that I could have managed the clock better. … This week we’ll be ready to play.”
Valley might need to be ready as unhappy bus rides home from Denver have been a frequent occurrence. Valley has won their last two meetings with North Miami, but they are 1-5 in their last six games against the Warriors in Denver.
North Miami is coming off a 55-0 loss to Class 1A, No. 4 Southwood. That marked North Miami’s first shutout loss in coach Joe Grant’s four-year tenure there.
Still, senior Daran Hanley is a fearsome threat capable of big plays in a variety of roles.
“You almost need to dedicate a player just to him,” Moriarty said. “And understand too that they’re going to try to get him the ball in open spaces. That’s what could be dangerous for us and a young secondary. But I think if we do our assignments, hopefully, we can contain him.”