AKRON, Ind. (WANE) – 2021 was a special season for the Tippecanoe Valley football program, who enjoyed their best season in almost four decades.

The Vikings piled on the points at Death Valley, averaging almost 40 per game on their way to a 10-1 record and Three Rivers Conference title.

However, Tippecanoe Valley will need to find a way to replicate that success after graduating a large senior class. Key skill players like Braden Shepherd and Rex Kirchenstein moved, leaving a void for younger guys to step up.

“We’re going to need some of the newer guys to step up,” said Vikings assistant coach Rick Shepherd. “We lost quite a bit from last year, but we also have a lot of younger players getting some quality time. They worked hard in the offseason. We’re just going to try and build on what we’ve been doing.”

While the offense gets up to speed, the defense will need to shoulder the load, especially early in the season. Several players return on that side of the ball, including defensive linemen Evan Maish and Alex Bailey.

Tippecanoe Valley has a massive target on their back after going undefeated last year in TRC play. With teams like Southwood poised to take the conference, the Vikings are prepared to get every team’s best shot this season.

“I think we just work hard, younger kids need to step up,” said Maish. “We got to fight tough. We have a good defense, good offense. I think we just come back work harder than last year.”

Tippecanoe Valley hosts Wawasee at Death Valley on Aug. 19 to open the 2022 season.