The first leg of our football trip Saturday took us to Valparaiso to see the Crusaders take on the Marist Red Foxes. Let me first start off by commenting on a team that takes its name from a sitcom actor. I am sure that they really did not, but every time I heard the announcer give credit to the Red Foxes I laughed a little. I kept expected a player to break a long run and yell “I’m coming Elizabeth” as he was streaking down the sidelines.
The Valpo offense really did not seem to be clicking Saturday. Quarterback Nate Goergen had some accuracy issues when throwing over five yards. The star of the game for Valpo last season when we saw the Crusaders play was Bobby Wysocki. He really does it all for the team. He is a wide receiver, running back, and holds for place kicks. He was held down by Marist Saturday though. He could only muster 49 yards on 14 carries rushing, and 7 yards on four catches receiving. When the pass is not really an option it is hard to get any kind of run game going. Bobby is shown in the picture at the top of the post getting knocked around by the Marist defense. They seemed to be all over him all day long.
The lone highlight for the Valpo offense was a drive they put together in the closing minutes of the first half. They took the ball right down the field to score a touchdown to make the score 17-7 with around fifty seconds left in the half. At the end of that drive the Valpo coaches were letting the officials hear about their displeasure with all of the lineman getting hurt for Marist. The linemen would appear hurt, then walk off the field with the trainers under their own power after an officials timeout was called only to come right back into the game the next play. That time really helped Marist as they scored with about twenty seconds left to regain the 17 point advantage.
One pleasant surprise when I was looking through the program was seeing former Slicer Linebacker Matt Heinen listed on the team. He even made the program as the teams leading tackler coming into the game. He is shown in the above picture (#18) up on the line ready to blitz. He had five tackles on the day for the Crusaders.
The real stars of the game though seemed to be the officials. They were having issues getting the clock synced with what they wanted to see. At one point the referee had to keep getting on the timekeeper to start the play clock, but leave the game clock steady until the play started. It ended up like a bad Sanford and Son sketch with all of the comedy that ensued. The game clock would start, but not the play clock. Then neither would start. Finally things worked out to how they should be so that play could resume. The next series though the official had to get back on his mike to ask that the music be stopped. A good PA operator would have had Rhianna’s please don’t stop the music keyed up for the next timeout. All of this pales in comparison to the ref who got in the way when he should not of and appeared to get knocked out. He had to sit out a couple of series before re-entering the game.
We only stayed until halftime so we didn’t see the game get out of hand. I guess you could argue that 24-7 is close to being out of hand, but 51-7 is very bad. The announced attendance of 1,107 once again seems a little large. If they counted all of the fans as two people they might have had that many in the stadium. Valpo is trying to turn things around, but a 0-6 record will stop that from happening very quickly. It has to be hard for Valpo to recruit when the students have to pass the higher academic standards as well as the higher price of tuition. It would have been hard though to sit through a 37 point second half for Marist if we had stayed. The Valpo fans had to really want to see the end of that game. I feel bad for all of the fans that were coming in at halftime because they weren’t charging admission.
Part of the fun of being at the game though was being down on the field. For most of the second quarter I was down on the field on the sidelines taking pictures. I actually took a few good ones that will end up on this site by the end of the week. I enjoyed being down near the action, but things seemed to happen a lot quicker down there. It took me a while to adjust to how fast the play goes past you. It really reminds you of how much faster the game is on the field rather than watching in the stands. The armchair quarterbacks should be reminded of this sometimes.