BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Tippecanoe Valley (5-0, 4-0 Three Rivers Conference) at Whitko (0-5, 0-4), 7 p.m.
Nate Parker ran for 172 yards and a touchdown, caught a 47-yard touchdown pass, returned a kickoff 64 yards to set up a touchdown and had an interception on defense for Valley in a 26-17 win over Rochester last week.
That gave Valley their fourth straight Bell game win, and it drew admiration from coach Stephen Moriarty.
“Nate Parker tonight, what a special kid,” Moriarty said after the game. “He refuses to go down. He has just a motor that will not quit, and he’s five-foot-nothing and weighs 110 pounds or something and just refuses to go down. I’m proud of him and all the kids.”
Defensively, Valley held Rochester to 151 total yards. They held Rochester junior fullback Alex Deming to a career-low 39 yards and kept Rochester’s misdirection game to their wingbacks in check.
“For the most part, they didn’t have any big, huge runs on us,” Moriarty said. “And that’s what I was worried about. Some of those counters, after concentrating so much on Deming, that that would hurt us, but I think we did OK.”
Moriarty is in his sixth year as coach. He said it took two years for the players to learn the gap-control defensive scheme that he teaches and for each player to understand their responsibilities within the scheme. He said that Valley runs the same defense from varsity all the way through the youth program.
Not only is the varsity undefeated, but Valley’s JV, eighth grade and seventh grade teams are also unbeaten.
“We try to make sure that we get them and develop them so that when they are ready to go or when their number’s called, they just plug in,” Moriarty said. “I think with having such good practices against each other and having good competition at each spot really does help the growth of the team.”
Moriarty said that fatigue was a little bit of a factor – Valley had eight two-way starters as compared to Rochester’s three – but the Valley defense forced turnovers on Rochester’s final two possessions to secure the win.
“I do think it was a little bit of a factor,” Moriarty said. “Normally, we have quite a bit of subs that we rotate in and through. Sometimes, we didn’t get all the way to get to some of those in because we just needed to have those other players on the field. So I think we did get tired… at the end of the second half, but overall, I think we finally stepped up a little bit and were able to finish the game strong.”
Valley hopes to hold up against a Whitko team that has lost its five games by a combined 232-8, including a 49-0 loss to North Miami last week.
Brad Sprunger is now coaching the team after Chip Coldiron was fired. Coldiron went 1-12 in two seasons. His last game was a 70-0 loss at Rochester on Sept. 2.
Whitko is 6-50 in their last 56 games dating back to the 2016 season. That includes an 0-5 record against Valley during that time.
Moriarty said that junior tight end-defensive lineman-safety Landon Durkes is doubtful with a shoulder injury.