Football ramping up at Brown Field
FB: Beacons deep into second week of fall camp
(The Victory Bell is a subscription-based publication covering Valparaiso athletics. Subscriptions are available for $49.99/year or $5/month. This is a rare exception of an open story. Details are below regarding TVB’s plans for previewing the upcoming Valparaiso football season. I appreciate your support during the 2023-24 athletic year.)
The Victory Bell is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a paid subscriber.
Take a walk around Brown Field this time of year and the senses start to come alive.
The sound of pads crunching against one another means the Valparaiso football team is back on campus in preparation for the start of the 2023 season.
There’s the feeling of a rewarding ice bath after another intense camp practice and then the sight of players moving slowly through the halls of the Athletics-Recreation Center toward the locker room as they continue to build their bodies for a long season.
If we’re really diving deep into the senses theme, let me tell you about the smell outside the locker room when more than 100 players return from the practice field. Or maybe I shouldn’t.
Yep, the 2023 football season is so close we can almost taste it.
“The ability to spend time together over the next four months is what really makes this special,” Valparaiso football coach Landon Fox said.
Fox is entering his fifth season leading the Valpo football program and he’s doing it with a largely retooled coaching staff. Former offensive coordinator Will Fleming is now at Lamar while former defensive coordinator Brian Dougherty is now at UIndy. In their place are an impressive pair of hires in Matthew Symmes and David Marquis.
Symmes spent three seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers where he was the NFL’s youngest QB coach in 2019. Symmes began his coaching career as an undergraduate student at Duke and he continued to cut his teeth with stops at Florida, Indiana, South Carolina and East Carolina.
“Valparaiso is an incredible place to work,” Symmes said. “I’ve got a really good head coach to work for and we’ve got players who are really unique people. They’re incredibly driven, really high character guys both on and off the field. This is an easy place to come work every day. I’m really excited for this job and this is kind of what I’ve always dreamed of doing.”
Marquis is no stranger to Fox as Valpo’s new defensive coordinator used to coach under Fox when the two were at Dayton. Marquis started his coaching career at Randolph-Macon before returning to his alma mater and serving as a defensive graduate assistant at Kent State. Marquis then had multiple stints at Wittenberg sandwiched around his time with Fox at Dayton.
“It’s so great to be back with (Fox) and I’ve learned a lot from him over the years,” Marquis said. “It’s a lot of fun being back here and the guys have been awesome to work with so far. We’ve got a great coaching staff.”
Marquis is working alongside co-defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator, RJ Ghilarducci. The latter is the lone holdover from the 2022 coaching staff.
“Everything has been pretty seamless,” Ghilarducci said. “Dave has been with Coach Fox before, so he understands how the programs are run. In the spring I took a bigger lead in getting him up to date on everything, but now that he’s been here, it’s been really smooth and we’re in a really good rhythm.”
Fox filled out his coaching staff with Andrew Prevost (Offensive Line), Jackson Smith (Defensive Line), Curtis Harper (Asst. Defensive Line), Bryan Parker (Wide Receivers), Nate Van Asperen (Tight Ends), Trevor McConnell (Offensive Quality Control), Owen Chandler (Defensive Quality Control), Cam Burnette (Quality Control) and Nathan Richards (Director of Football Operations).
The Victory Bell will have a position-by-position preview of the 2023 roster beginning on Monday, Aug. 14. Each positional preview will include a player feature, as well as a look at the returners, newcomers and key players lost. The first positional preview (Specialists) will be free to all readers with the rest being available to paid subscribers of The Victory Bell.
Aug. 14 - Specialists
Aug. 16 - Quarterbacks
Aug. 18 - Defensive Line
Aug. 20 - Running Backs
Aug. 22 - Linebackers
Aug. 24 - Wide Receivers
Aug. 26 - Tight Ends
Aug. 28 - Defensive Backs
Aug. 30 - Offensive Line
As the Beacons are slowly approaching the 2023 season opener at Youngstown State on Thursday, Aug. 31, expectations are high around Brown Field. Valparaiso was picked to finish sixth in the Pioneer Football League, but numerous players have told The Victory Bell over the last week that they feel a PFL title is well within grasp. Fox also hasn’t been shy about his feelings about the 2023 edition of the Beacons.
“I think we have as competitive a roster as we’ve ever had in my time here,” Fox said. “We have a very talented football team, so our expectations are high. The standards of how we can coach these guys, it really gets you excited.”
2023 Valparaiso Football Schedule (all times Central)
Aug. 31 at Youngstown State, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Indiana Wesleyan, 5 p.m.
Sept. 23 Marist, Noon
Sept. 30 Southwest Minnesota State, 1 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Drake, 1 p.m.
Oct. 14 Morehead State, 1 p.m.
Oct. 21 at Davidson, Noon
Oct. 28 at Butler, Noon
Nov. 4 Dayton, 1 p.m.
Nov. 11 Stetson, Noon
Nov. 18 at St. Thomas, 1 p.m.
Pioneer Football League games in BOLD
(Photos courtesy of Valpo Athletics)