Week 7 football preview: Streaking Valley offense seeks first win over Maconaquah since 1976
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Maconaquah (2-2, 2-2 Three Rivers Conference) at Tippecanoe Valley (4-2, 4-1), 7 p.m.
After beating Whitko 57-24 last week, the Valley offense is on a hot streak that has not been seen in over 40 years.
Specifically, they have scored at least 50 points in three straight games for the first time since 1979.
“It was a back-and-forth battle there until mid-second quarter,” Valley coach Stephen Moriarty said. “Then we finally woke up, you would say. We were just going through the motions a little bit, but then we finally started playing better and blocking our assignments and getting through what seemed to be a good jumpstart by Whitko.”
Valley junior quarterback Branson McBrier threw five touchdown passes last week, and Alex Craft accounted for 214 yards of total offense. Rex Kirchenstien had 105 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
McBrier can throw to receivers like Kirchenstien, Craft, Jacob Davis or Jamasyn Virgil in the passing game, but that’s not what Moriarty liked about the second half of the Whitko game.
“I liked in the second half that we were able to just go back to Valley football and strap ‘em up and just run between the tackles there coming out at halftime,” Moriarty said. “Establishing that running game again… I was proud of the offensive linemen at finally getting the surge that they needed and the backs finding the hole and running hard and finishing their runs.”
Moriarty said he wants his defense “all on the same page” moving forward, adding that there were some missed assignments on coverages. Whitko also had a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Gavin Ness.
While Valley would like to continue their offensive productivity that hasn’t been seen since the 1970s, they would like to do another thing they haven’t done since the 1970s – beat Maconaquah. Specifically, Valley hasn’t beaten Maconaquah since a 29-13 win in 1976.
Maconaquah beat Valley in the 2018 sectional and again in the 2019 regular season. Valley scored nine points in those two games combined.
Maconaquah relies on Carter Little, who stars at both fullback on offense and safety on defense. Little ran for 90 yards and four touchdowns in a 55-8 win over North Miami last week. He also had seven tackles on defense and is the school’s all-time interceptions leader.
Maconaquah quarterback Bryant Teegardin had 84 yards passing and another 81 rushing against North Miami.
“They’ve gone back with a pistol-like formation – shotgun with Little in the backfield,” Moriarty said. “They still run the ball 79% of the time, but they’re over 60 percent completions on their passing game, which is pretty impressive, I think. So their offense has become both an air attack and a run attack. You have to stop Little, but at the same time, if you get too concerned with the run, they will burn you on the passes.”
Moriarty said that junior Braden Shepherd was “day to day” with an undisclosed injury. Shepherd hasn’t played since a 16-0 loss to Culver Academy on Aug. 21.