By Dalton Tinklenberg
AKRON – The Tippecanoe Valley Vikings played host to the Whitko Wildcats Friday night in a game that was never really close. The Vikings gave the Wildcats a brutal shellacking, finishing with a 60-0 victory.
The game began with Whitko receiving the opening kickoff before quickly being forced to punt the ball away to the Vikings. Branson McBrier and company wasted little time in landing the first blow of the night with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Rex Kirchenstien.
The opening back and forth served as a sign of things to come as the Vikings essentially had their way for the remainder of the first half. Braden Shepherd took a punt return back to the house and after a successful two-point conversion, Valley held a 16-0 lead just over five minutes into the game.
No series exemplified the Viking dominance more than their second offensive possession of the game. Valley scored a touchdown that was negated due to a penalty. The very next play was yet another touchdown negated by a penalty. The penalties put Valley into a first down and 41 situation that not many teams would be able to escape. Then, on third down with nearly half a field between the Vikings and a first down, McBrier found Kirchenstein for a touchdown. In some kind of sick joke, that touchdown was also reversed due to a penalty. Finally, facing a third down and 46, Valley used a screen play to Shepherd for a 60-yard touchdown. The touchdown and subsequent two-point conversion gave Valley a 24-0 lead.
“You know at one time during the [first] quarter, we had seven penalties and scored three times,” said Valley head coach Steve Moriarty. “I thought today we set the tone right off the bat. We had goals this week and we set them pretty early. We wanted 21 points by the end of the first quarter and we wanted six three and outs by the half. We reached both of those goals pretty quickly. Coach Coldiron has done a great job. When he came to the team they only had under 20 players and now they’re over 50 so he’s recruiting and getting players out. For the most part, I was very proud of our kids in that effort, coming right out of the gate and doing what they needed to do.”
The second quarter showed even further dominance from one of the best 3-A teams in the state. Touchdown runs from both Jamasyn Virgil and Dalton Alber pushed the Viking lead to 40-0. Then just 21 seconds after Alber’s touchdown, McBrier found Kirchenstein for a 34-yard score. Another Alber score on the ground with just under three minutes remaining would push things to 54-0.
It looked as if the Wildcats would be able to hold off any more scoring from Valley before the half when they got the ball late in the second quarter. That was ultimately not the case though. With just 20 seconds remaining, Whitko was forced to punt from inside their own 10-yard line. The punt traveled a staggering three yards, setting up a 12-yard touchdown run by Virgil to end the half.
At the break, Valley held a 60-0 lead and had outgained the Wildcats in yardage by a count of 309 to 33. Perhaps even more impressive, it took just 18 plays to score those 60 points.
As the second half opened up, the Vikings began sending in second and third stringers to get some playing time. While Whitko elected to keep their starters in the game, Valley still proved too strong. A missed field goal and a blocked field goal kept the Wildcats scoreless as Valley registered the 79th shutout in school history.
“I’m glad they got to come and play,” said Moriarty. “Backups in the second half did a good job. [In the] third quarter and fourth quarter, getting some of those junior varsity guys in, they still moved the ball up and down and had some defensive stops which I was happy about to keep the shutout.”
McBrier finished the game with 181 passing yards and three touchdowns while completing eight of nine pass attempts. Shepherd hauled in two receptions for 70 yards while also registering one rushing attempt for 26 yards.
The Vikings (6-0, 4-0 TRC) will hit the road next week as they travel south to square off with a very motivated Maconaquah (2-2, 2-2 TRC) team coming off of a 72-20 win of its own.