End all, be all
Jones finishes with two sacks as Valparaiso stuns Penn in sectional final
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.
Valparaiso’s Jesse Harper, top, congratulates Jackson Kurth on scoring a touchdown against Penn during the game on Friday.
Valparaiso’s Troy Barton (37), Dylan Dingman and Cooper Jones (11) team up to sack Penn quarterback Ronald Powlus Jr.