College football

Valparaiso players look to showcase talents in football season finale

2013-11-13T18:30:00Z 2013-11-14T05:33:07Z Valparaiso players look to showcase talents in football season finalePaul Oren Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
November 13, 2013 6:30 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | Eric Hoffman isn’t going to start feeling sorry for himself this week.

Not with the Valparaiso football team facing a third one-win season.

Not with the Crusaders entering Saturday’s game without head coach Dale Carlson, who was fired Sunday afternoon.

Not with pride on the line.

“We have a chance as a team to show that we’re much better than we’ve been playing,” the Crusaders' quarterback said. “I think we’ve handled this week pretty well. We have a positive attitude and we’ll be ready for Dayton.”

The Crusaders take on the Flyers in the season finale at Brown Field and they’ll be doing it with interim coach Mike Gravier at the helm. The offensive line coach/run game coordinator joined the program last summer and his message to the team has been simple this week.

“This is another opportunity to get on film,” Gravier said. “Whoever the coach is that they bring in is going to watch this tape and see how the players responded to adversity. When you’re 1-9, what else do you have to play for but your pride?”

Gravier has head coaching experience from stints at Bluefield College in Virginia and Malone University in Ohio. He also served as the offensive line coach under Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly when he was at Grand Valley State. As much as Saturday is important for the players to make an impression, the season finale represents a chance for the coaching staff as well.

“It’s an audition for us and it’s an audition for them,” Gravier said. “If we can go out there and beat Dayton, I’d think that would serve notice.”

Valparaiso director of athletics Mark LaBarbera spent more than an hour with members of the team on Tuesday. The session was spent listening to players and answering questions. LaBarbera said earlier this week that a national search to fill the head coaching position would begin immediately.

“I wanted to get a sense of their view of the program,” LaBarbera said. “I’m excited after talking to them. They have a good perspective on things. I’m excited about the outlook and I’m very encouraged.”

Hoffman is focusing on getting ready for the Flyers, but the three-year starter hopes to get a chance to provide input when it comes to the coaching search.

“I’ll do whatever I can to help this team,” Hoffman said. “I’m dedicated to this program. We all are.”

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