Inside the Vikings
Last season: 3-7
Returning starters: 10 (6 offense, 4 defense)
Returning offensive leader
David Hittinger, Sr., QB/DB. 79-143-6, 987 yards passing, 10 TDs
Returning defensive leader
Angelo Madrigal, Sr., LB. 114 tackles (31 solo), 6 TFL, 1 INT, 1 FR
Blake Biesen, Sr., OL. The 6-foot-4 offensive tackle is a three-year starter that protects the blindside of quarterback David Hittinger. Biesen helped open holes for a strong running game last season and his experience will be needed as the Vikings hope to reestablish the run with a new crop of backs.
He's got next
Collin Vinyard, Jr., RB. With the graduation of Andrew Kittridge and Stephen Simms, the Vikings have holes at running back. Mark Johnson brings the most experience back, but Vinyard is expected to make big strides in his second year on varsity. "Collin played defense for us last year, but we think he's going to be a fine running back in our program," Valparaiso coach Dave Coyle said.
The Times' breakdown
With one full year under his belt as the head coach, Coyle is learning more what it means to be the head of the Valparaiso football program. "I have more respect now than I've ever had for Mark Hoffman for what he was able to do here," Coyle said. Coyle's second year will see a returning quarterback in David Hittinger, but a depleted run game. Coyle expects the Vikings to throw the ball more to experienced senior receivers Alex Healy and Michael Rastovic. The strength of the team will be an offensive line led by D-I prospect Biesen and Kyle Bishop. In addition to rebuilding the run game, Coyle must also craft a new secondary. The defense will be led by senior Angelo Madrigal, a linebacker who spent the last two years lining up on the inside but spent the entire summer preparing to transition to outside linebacker. "We've got some quality guys on the inside this year, so it's really a luxury to be able to move Angelo to the outside and try to get more pressure on the quarterback," Coyle said. — Paul Oren