MERRILLVILLE- The Valparaiso Vikings’ perfect season rolls on to the sectional championship.
The Vikings defeated the Merrillville Pirates by a score of 20-14 at Demaree Stadium on Friday night, thanks to a stellar performance by the Vikings’ defense.
“We gave up a drive or two, and that’s about it,” said Valparaiso head coach Mark Hoffman. “We played hard, we hit hard, it was a great football game. It was a hard hitting game right down to the wire again.”
The defense did hit hard, especially when it came to hitting Merrillville quarterback Zach Raspopovich, who was sacked three times in the game. Although Raspopovich was visibly banged up, he stayed in the game and got the Pirates’ offense going late. Valparaiso’s defense still held them off to keep the Vikings in the game.
“We gave them that opportunity.” Hoffman said of Merrillville’s attempt at a comeback. “We should have been ahead by two scores, but we just didn’t do a good job with our passing. We didn’t handle the ball the way we wanted to. Merrillville had a lot to do with that, of course.”
The victory for the Vikings was secured as they converted on a fourth down with just over a minute left in the game on a two yard run by running back Andrew Kittridge. Kittridge rushed for 141 yards on 28 carries in the game.
Coach Hoffman was impressed with how the team played as a whole against a powerful offensive Merrillville team.
“The kids played really well,” Hoffman said. “We played with adversity and we beat a great team.”
With the victory, the Vikings will host the Crown Point Bulldogs in the sectional finals this Friday night. The Bulldogs advanced to the final by defeating the Munster Mustangs 28-10.