AKRON – The rallying cry of ‘Getting back to Death Valley Football’ has been a prominent one around Tippecanoe Valley in recent weeks. The school will continue to rally that sentiment this week after its Unified Flag Football squad earned a state berth Saturday afternoon.
Valley hosted and defeated Griffith, 30-12, at a rainy Death Valley to win the Unified Flag Football regional title. The new sport, in its first season around the state, had Valley punch its first ticket to the state finals in any sport since girls basketball made its famous run in 2015.
Valley opened the game on fire, scoring on its first four possessions.
Tanner Trippiedi made a pair of catches on the first drive of the game, the second one into space for a score and a 6-0 lead. Valley held Griffith on downs on defense, then Nate Heckman made a nice catch to get Valley going on its next possession. Trippiedi again made a pair of catches, the second for a score and before most of the fans had settled in, and it was already 12-0.
“This week we put our focus on starting off quickly and trying to get Griffith to chase us rather than us having to chase them,” said Valley head coach Jeff Shriver. “As you saw, they have a lot of quick players, a lot of team speed. They have as good, or better speed, than we have, and is much different than what we’ve seen in the past. We worked to contain their quarterback and keep our athletes in good positions to make some plays.”
Valley’s defense then went to work, picking off passes on consecutive possessions by Payton Mills and Tyler Nine. Quarterback Drew Thompson once again made the right connections, hitting Heckman and Cade Brouyette for scores, sending the score to 24-0 heading into the half.
Griffith would slice the lead in half with a pair of second-half scores, but Valley closed out its state berth with a Nine touchdown run to cap the scoring.
“A couple of the kids coming into this weekend said they didn’t know how to feel, they didn’t know how to celebrate because they’ve never been in this situation before,” Shriver said. “It’s a special thing for our athletes to be able to compete and celebrate this. With all the excitement that’s going around campus about our varsity football program and the success they are having, we are starting to also get that support from our student body and the community. These kids are working hard and are earning that respect.”
Tippecanoe Valley (4-0) will play Noblesville next Saturday in the semi-finals of the IHSAA Unified Flag Football state tourney, the Millers defeating Fort Wayne Carroll 24-0 in the other northern regional. The southern half will feature Ben Davis against either Jasper or Bedford North Lawrence, their game washed out Saturday and will be played Monday. The final four will play at the Indianapolis Colts training facility in Indianapolis.