End all, be all

Jones fin­ishes with two sacks as Val­paraiso stuns Penn in sec­tional fi­nal

Post Tribune (Sunday) - - Sports - By Mike Hut­ton

MISHAWAKA, Ind. — With a 21-0 vic­tory, Val­paraiso left Penn de­flated and de­mor­al­ized Fri­day in the Class 6A Sec­tional 1 cham­pi­onship game.

It was the first sec­tional ti­tle for the Vik­ings since 2010.

The big­gest home­wrecker for Val­paraiso (9-2) was sopho­more Cooper Jones, a 6-foot-5, 240pound de­fen­sive end.

Jones fin­ished with two sacks for the Vik­ings, who were im­pen­e­tra­ble on de­fense. Penn (8-3) didn’t make its first first down un­til there were 33 sec­onds left in the first half.

The first four times Penn quar­ter­back Ron Powlus Jr. dropped back to pass, he was sacked. The Kings­men fin­ished with 25 yards rush­ing and only 66 pass­ing.

The Vik­ings didn’t do any­thing fancy up front.

They rushed four and just beat Penn’s of­fen­sive line.

Jones was in the mid­dle of it. He knew Val­paraiso could shut down the Kings­men. The Vik­ings lost their sea­son opener against Penn 21-3.

“Ev­ery­body was fly­ing around here,” Jones said. “We knew if we came in here and took it, we could get it done. We remember the first week. We won the first three quar­ters of that game. We wanted it re­ally bad. That was the dif­fer­ence.”

It was a big mo­ment for Val­paraiso. The last time the Vik­ings beat Penn in the play­offs was in 2002.

The Vik­ings never dom­i­nated them like they did Fri­day.

“We didn’t ex­pect it to be 21-0,” Jones said. “We knew we could win, but 21-0 is awe­some.”

Jack­son Kurth, a se­nior run-

ning back who rushed for 152 yards on 25 car­ries with a touch­down, had a bird’s-eye view of the havoc Jones cre­ated.

He liked what he saw.

He knows how good Jones is be­cause he goes against him in prac­tice every day.

“I love Cooper Jones,” Kurth said. “He’s one of the best play­ers I’ve ever seen, and he’s only a sopho­more. About 99 per­cent of the dudes can’t play on varsity as a sopho­more. It’s awe­some what he’s do­ing.

“I can’t wait to see what he does his ju­nior and se­nior year. He’s go­ing to be a big-time player.”

Val­paraiso coach Bill Mar­shall called Jones a “man-child.”

“He’s a phe­nom­e­nal player,” Mar­shall said. “I wouldn’t try to change any­thing he’s do­ing. He’s ma­ture for his age.”

The win was a huge turn­around for the Vik­ings and Mar­shall, who was the in­terim coach last sea­son when they played Penn in the sec­tional.

Mar­shall re­placed Dave Coyle, who re­signed the week of the Penn game af­ter his play­ers walked out of prac­tice.

It’s now of­fi­cially be­hind the pro­gram. “We’ve come a long way as a team and a coach­ing staff as well,” Mar­shall said.

MICHAEL GARD/POST-TRI­BUNE

Val­paraiso’s Jesse Harper, top, con­grat­u­lates Jack­son Kurth on scor­ing a touch­down against Penn dur­ing the game on Fri­day.

MICHAEL GARD/POST-TRI­BUNE

Val­paraiso’s Troy Bar­ton (37), Dy­lan Ding­man and Cooper Jones (11) team up to sack Penn quar­ter­back Ron­ald Powlus Jr.

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