VALPARAISO- Something had to give in the battle between the only two remaining undefeated teams in class 5A.
The Valparaiso Vikings defeated the Mishawaka Cavemen by a score of 21-14 at Viking Field on Friday night, winning their first regional since 2002. Running Back Andrew Kittridge led Valparaiso to victory, scoring all three touchdowns for the Vikings.
“What I like about him is that he is an A, A-plus student, he listens and is very coachable,” said Vikings head coach Mark Hoffman of Kittridge. “He’s very athletic. He’s been carrying the mail for us for a while, and he can get it done. Whenever you can get a running back that’s a hurdler like he is, you’ve got yourself a diamond.”
Despite a shaky first half for the Vikings defense, they bounced right back in the second half and returned to their usual dominating form.
“Our defense was over pursuing in the first half,” said Hoffman. “So coach Coyle and his defensive staff made that adjustment and changed some things up front, and now we weren’t over pursuing. We started holding them, instead of getting those three or five yard gains, now they were getting one or two yard gains.”
For the second week in a row, Sam Ficken’s punting was also a huge factor, as the Cavemen never had the field position they wanted in the second half.
“Our special teams were phenomenal,” said Hoffman. “Sam Ficken could be all-conference and all-state punter and kicker. He was booming the ball, our field position was locked because of him.”
Everything continues to come together for the Vikings, and quarterback Paul Andrie knows it.
“We really came together as a team tonight,” said Andrie. “We’re a big family, it’s a lot of fun.”
The Vikings will travel to Fishers next week as they look to go to their first state championship since 2001.