VALPARAISO | The Valparaiso football team has five seniors who could have walked away with their college degrees at the end of last season and never looked back.
Whether it was injuries or transferring, the five fifth-year seniors all lost a season over the last four years and decided to come back for one more ride with the Crusaders.
The decision wasn’t hard for any of the players.
“We’ve got things left to finish here,” right tackle Sean Cook said. “None of us wanted to leave here until we’ve finished what we started. We’re not trying to leave anything undone.”
Valparaiso held its annual Media Day on Tuesday afternoon and the team walked around like a determined squad set on moving beyond the one-win seasons that have become the norm for Crusader football.
“We’re done with that,” sophomore running back Jake Hutson said. “The mentality is that this has to be the changing point. We just want to win football games.”
Hutson will be the focal point of a ground attack fronted by an experienced offensive line that features seven players with starting experience. Cook returns after missing last season and the senior is anxious to block for Hutson.
“We’re a passing offense, but that is going to open up holes for the run,” Cook said. “You can see the potential with the backs that we’ve got.”
Valparaiso will again be guided by third-year starting quarterback Eric Hoffman. The junior has started 21 of the last 22 games and is looking to make significant strides as an upperclassman.
“You want to believe that it should be an advantage for Eric to be starting,” Valparaiso coach Dale Carlson said. “He’s done some good things on the field for us and we expect to see more of that this season.”
The Crusaders open next Thursday night on the road at North Dakota in what should be a difficult environment. Games at St. Joseph’s and at home against William Jewell round out the non-conference schedule.
“We need to stay consistent right from the beginning,” Hoffman said. “We know we’re a lot better of a team, just a totally different team from last year. Finishing over .500 and beating our rivals; competing in every single game. That’s what we expect.”