By Mike Deak
SYRACUSE – Tippecanoe Valley knows how DeKalb feels, having been there before. In its first season of Unified Flag Football, Tippecanoe Valley made a run to the IHSAA State Finals before falling in the championship game. Saturday at the Wawasee Regional, DeKalb, playing in its first season of Unified, is carrying onto state after upsetting both defending state champion McCutcheon and Valley to win the regional Saturday night.
DeKalb opened its day with a 67-40 win over an athletic McCutcheon side which entered the day not only as defending champ, but also having scored 218 total points in its three sectional wins.
On the other side of Warrior Field, Valley was busy throwing plenty of touchdown passes to blow out Valpo, 84-40. Seven players scored a touchdown for the VIkings in the regional semi-final, led by three scores from Michael Wright, two each from Owen Kluesener, Cooper Walls and Macartney Wright, and one score from Tayde Kiser, Riley Shepherd and Jessica Hoover.
Kluesener, Wright, Shepherd, Walls and Trystan Woodcox all had two-point conversions while quarterback Drew Thompson slung the ball around with incredible accuracy.
The game was tied at 8-8, but Valley would score immediately and never trail again, making its second-ever regional final.
Facing the Barons, Valley would lead with just over a minute left, but DeKalb would score to take a two-point lead, leaving Valley with just seconds left. On the final play, Kiser got out into space, but had his flag pulled just before the end zone as time expired, sending the Barons to its first-ever state finals.
Kiser and Kluesener both had a pair of touchdowns for the Vikings, which won four games in the 2021 state tournament.
DeKalb will take on Franklin Central, which was a 59-46 winner over Carmel in the southern regional final. The Barons and Flashes will square off next Saturday at Grand Park in Westfield.