Big picture: Valparaiso continues on its possible path to Indianapolis.
The Vikings defeated the Crown Point Bulldogs 23-6 Friday night to win a class 6A regional championship and advance to semistate. Valparaiso (10-2) will host Carmel (10-2) at home next week in a rematch of the 1975 state championship —won by the Vikings —for the right to play for the 2018 state title at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“As weird as this sounds, I just can’t wait to put this one behind us because we’re going to the semistate game,” Valparaiso senior running back Jackson Kurth said. “I’m so excited to be playing on this stage with my brothers out here.”
Valparaiso’s appearance in semistate will mark the program’s seventh in school history and first since losing to Fishers in 2010. The school has two other state championship appearances to go along with the ’75 title.
The Vikings and Carmel Greyhounds have played three times. Carmel beat Valparaiso in both 2011 and 2012.
“We’ll get them here at our place,” Valpo coach Bill Marshall said of the matchup. “We’re just excited to play another great caliber team in Carmel and hopefully showcase what our kids can do.”
Valparaiso controlled the line of scrimmage throughout its playoff win against Crown Point, outgaining the Bulldogs 311-8 on the ground.
Kurth rushed for 214 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries. He put the first points on the board with a one-yard rushing touchdown late in the first quarter. Crown Point sophomore quarterback Will Pettit found junior receiver David O’Toole for a 76-yard touchdown to pull within one by the time the quarter ended.
But then it was Kurth helping put the game away early on in the fourth quarter, rushing it home from two yards out with 8:08 left in the game to give Valparaiso a 16-6 lead. The ‘Dogs just couldn’t slow the run down late.
“We were lucky enough to get the ball in great field position and get some of that push,” Marshall said. “We put a big unit in there to try and get some downhill running and it just worked out for our best.”
Turning point: Senior running back Jesse Harper’s 6-yard keeper out of the wildcat with 4:22 left in the fourth quarter put Valparaiso ahead 23-6 and essentially iced the game.
Valparaiso player of the game: Kurth — He had 33 carries for 214 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner.
Crown Point player of the game: O’Toole — He hauled in a 76-yard touchdown reception for the lone firework of the ‘Dogs night.
Beyond the box score: Valparaiso has won 10 consecutive games after losing its first two contests to start the season.
Up next: Valparaiso (10-2) vs. Carmel (10-2), 7 p.m. Friday.