The mighty Penn Kingsmen had won 23 straight over Region teams heading into Friday night's game at Valparaiso.
The Vikings last beat Cory Yeoman's team on Aug. 20, 2010. The final was 10-7. Penn has made it to two state championship games and semistate every season since 2010.
But with Valpo's 12-7 win Friday night, could this be the moment when teams from our neck of the woods finally have a chance to get past the Kingsmen in late October?
The answer to that question is "maybe." Or "yes."
It's too early to tell.
But the effort by the Vikings makes Friday night's game easily the Saturday Morning QB's Game of the Week. Not even a close second on this one.
“This is huge for our kids because it allows them to know they can compete,” Valparaiso coach Dave Coyle told The Times after the historic win. “So many times we start our season 0-1. The very few times we start 1-0, it’s exciting. It’s like Christmas.”
Valpo quarterback Jake Leffew was handing out gifts like Saint Nick on the warm and humid night in Porter County. The Vikings' defense was The Grinch to the kids from Mishawaka, stifling the offense on down after down.
"Those Whos are hard to frazzle, Max. But, we did our worst, and that's all that matters."
Penn had just 87 yards of total offense.
The Vikings' two-minute drive in the fourth quarter was completed by Leffew’s 1-yard touchdown run, which was the game winner.
“In my four years, it’s always been our goal to beat Penn and this time we did it,” Leffew told The Times. “It’s always ‘You’ve got big, bad Penn coming in.’ Nobody believes in us but we always believe in ourselves.”
Leffew also hit Jesse Harper for a 20-yard score in the opening half.
Is this as big as Hobart's 27-20 win over the Kingsmen on Nov. 9, 1979? No, not yet. But it could have a similar aftermath.
The Brickies' win back then put them on the state map for the next 17 years.
Valpo has now let Indiana know the Vikes are for real. The future's so bright, perhaps, you've got to where shades
Portage is for real
It's difficult to be pumped and optimistic after a tough loss, but Portage coach Darren Rodriguez and his kids should be, despite losing to state power Mishawaka 47-45.
"One game doesn't define our season," Rodriguez said postgame.
Indians quarterback Anthony Maceo rushed 18 times for 209 yards with five touchdowns. The kid is good and showed it on a big stage. So Maceo earns the Saturday Morning QB's Player of the Night.
The Cavemen rushed for over 500 yards, and that is something Portage will have to work on. But maybe the Indians will do it the LaPorte way -- just outscore everybody they play.
"It wasn't an effort thing at all," Rodriguez said. "Our guys left everything on the field."
The good news is this was an excellent effort against a great team. The bad news is Lowell drives down Route 6 next Friday.
Region needs some Swedish exchange students
After a touchdown that brings the fans to their feet and the pep band blasting a tune, traditionally fans might run to the restroom or concession stand because, really, who wants to watch the point-after kick?
It's boring. It's automatic. Let's go get some nachos.
But on the first Friday night of the season, the extra point was as allusive as the winning PowerBall ticket.
Lake Central missed three kicks in its win over Munster. Lowell and Crown Point both missed an extra point. Of the seven touchdowns in Michigan City's 25-20 win over Griffith, only two point-after attempts were good, and both were two-point runs. Every kick was missed. Portage and Mishawaka both missed two PATs.
And in the biggest win of the night? Valpo missed a kick and a two-point conversion.
So either it was opening night jitters or schools need to find a kid named Gustav Larsson to come over and learn Regionese.
Biggest upset of the night
We already talked about Valpo-Penn, so...
The fact that Andrean beat Merrillville in the Battle of Broadway is not an upset. But the manner in which the 59ers did it was. The 42-13 victory was almost shocking -- domination for 48 minutes.
Chris Skinner's team led 35-0 at one point.
Teely Rhyne rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns. Zack Merrill rushed for 50 yards and threw for 191 yards and three touchdowns.
Merrillville had 11 yards of offense at halftime.
"That's incredible," Skinner said. "To hold Merrillville, a 6A school, to that little. Our defense played great and a lot of that was pure emotion."
Quote of the night
With 1:01 left in Lowell's 27-13 win over Crown Point, the Red Devils ran the ball down to the Crown Point 20 on third down. From the sideline the ball looked like it had reached a first down.
But the officials looked at it for quite awhile before finally blowing the whistle and calling for the chains to be called out for a measurement.
Lowell coach Keith Kilmer yelled out on the field, "Come on, give us the first down and then we can all go home and have some pizza."
The measurement gave Lowell the first down and the Devils ran out the clock.
Defensive Player of the Night
Lowell's Logan Charters led a terrific defensive charge for the Red Devils. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound senior had 16 tackles against the Bulldogs and two pass breakups. And Lowell's coaches had to watch film over the weekend to count how many ferocious hits he had.
"Logan was great tonight," Kilmer said. "He had a game. He was everywhere on the field."
Some streaking isn't good
Clarksville lost to Scottsburg 65-14 on Friday night, the program's 26th straight loss, which is the most in Indiana. With Bishop Noll losing to Hanover Central 48-8, the Warriors' losing streak is now at 25. And Clark is fourth in the state with a 22-game losing streak heading into Saturday night's game at Whiting.