FORT WAYNE | The official Valparaiso travel party didn’t have Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on the manifesto, but they might as well have been on the list.
The Vikings put forth a helter-skelter performance Friday night, as the youthful squad showed both talent and inexperience in a 21-10 loss at Homestead.
Valparaiso shined by forcing four turnovers, but struggled in coming away with only seven points off the Spartan miscues.
“We had inexperience (Friday), but we didn’t have a lack of heart,” Valparaiso coach Dave Coyle said. “These young guys have a lot coming at them and we’re asking them to play fast. We got better this week and we’ll get better this week. The goal is to be playing the best by sectionals.”
David Hittinger ran for 109 yards and hit senior Mark Johnson for a 10-yard touchdown on the second play of the second half. The touchdown was setup by a fumble from Homestead quarterback Logan Ormsby. Johnson’s touchdown catch put the Vikings up 10-7, their only lead of the game. Hittinger finished with 198 all-purpose yards.
“We’re taking advantage of what we have right now (with Hittinger running the ball),” Coyle said. “As we continue to play and more teams see that, I’m not sure that it will continue to be an advantage. We’ll have to do more to move the ball.”
The Vikings (0-2) had three drives stall out in Homestead territory, three of which came on missed field goals. Caleb Dawson connected on a 23-yard field goal early in the second quarter, but two of his attempts were blocked.
“We had too many mistakes on special teams and that is absolutely my fault,” Coyle said. “You better believe I’ll have that cleaned up by Monday afternoon. We gave up too much penetration and I’ll fix that.”
Ormsby looked like a seasoned veteran in just his second career start. The Homestead (2-0) junior accounted for 320 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s season-opening win over Huntington North and he added 327 passing yards on Friday night.
“He big-played us all night,” Coyle said. “Give all the credit to the quarterback, he hit the open windows. He’s the kind of guy we’re going to face all season and we’ve got to get better at stopping them.”
Johnson added 80 rushing yards while sophomore Bryce Crook (38 yards) and DaCota Overland (2 yards) filled in for injured starter Collin Vinyard (knee).
“We had four or five sophomores stepping up and playing key roles for us tonight,” Coyle said. “We’re a young football team and we’re going to learn from this. We’ll re-evaluate. I’m sure the coaches will be talking all the way home and we’ll get this better.”