By Mike Deak
SYRACUSE – It’s going on two years since Valley lost one of its true legends when Jeff Shriver passed just before Christmas of 2019. It was that fall that Shriver coached his final season at Valley, and it happened to be Valley’s sectional championship in Unified Flag Football.
After not winning the sectional in 2020, Valley returned to glory in 2021, surely making Shriver proud as Valley worked through the raindrops to knock out two Fort Wayne mega squads and then Three Rivers Conference rival Manchester in the championship game, 22-20.
In its quest, Valley had to beat the 2020 state finalist Fort Wayne Carroll in the opening round, then Homestead, and finally Manchester, another state finalist from a year ago. The battle tested Vikings will move to the Wawasee Regional this weekend, where it will once again have its hands full in its opening matchup against Valparaiso. The region Vikings took apart East Chicago Central, 64-18, in the only game of the two-team Valpo sectional. Valpo is returning to the regional for the third straight year, having made the state finals in 2019 after knocking Shriver and Valley out of the Valley Regional.
Valley looks to do some damage behind its four-year starting quarterback Drew Thompson and a solid receiving corps with the likes of Owen Kluesener, Owen Kirchenstien and Cooper Walls.
“Andrew Thompson is a four-year starter for us at quarterback,” said Tippecanoe Valley head coach Kris Walker. “He the only quarterback we’ve ever had. He’s the only one anyone has ever seen us have. None of the students come up to us and ask how the game went, they go to Drew. He’s been a captain since day one. I don’t want to see him walk off this field a loser, ever. I want to always see him walk off a winner. For Drew, this has meant the world to him.”
On the other side of the Wawasee bracket is an intriguing matchup. Defending state champion McCutcheon comes in from the Wabash sectional, having scored 218 points in its three wins. DeKalb, in its first season of Unified, also won three games to claim the sectional championship at Central Noble, pitching a shutout against East Noble along the way.
Action at Wawasee starts at 5 p.m. with semi-final games, with the finals to follow.
The Wawasee regional champion will advance to the IHSAA State Finals on Oct. 16 at the Grand Park Sports Event Center in Westfield. The southern state bracket features Franklin Central versus Bedford North Lawrence along with Carmel versus Brownsburg.