Burbee goes bonkers, Valparaiso survives a scare from Chesterton
By CJ PETERS
VALPARAISO – As any smart running back does after a big game, Tommy Burbee was quick to credit his offensive line.
It wasn’t just any big game though. It was a career-best 305 yards on 38 carries and three touchdowns for Burbee in Friday’s 30-21 Duneland Athletic Conference win over Chesterton.
“305 (yards) – that’s more about the line, they get to say our running back got 305 yards,” Burbee said. “I’m not doing anything unless they’re up there so (the yardage) is more of a compliment to them. It feels nice, obviously, but all the credit to them.
“They went full-speed ahead and had gaps everywhere for me. Even if it was a tiny gap, it’s all we needed to get going.”
Burbee’s career night punctuated a huge night on the ground for Class 5A No. 2 Valparaiso (3-0, 2-0) as its rushing total accounted for 379 of its 427 total yards.
“The line should be commended,” Valparaiso coach Bill Marshall said. “We had to establish a run game tonight, and they did. It wasn’t without some penalties and some stalling, and those are things we need to clean up.
“Kudos to the line and to Tommy for a very good coming out kind of game, but there’s still a lot to work on.”
Valpo fell behind 14-3 in the first half with Chesterton’s Patrick McLaughlin picking off Logan Lockhart for a 55-yard TD and Colby Bullock catching a 71-yard pass from Chris Mullen, sandwiching a 33-yard Liam Shepherd field goal.
Behind a pair Burbee TDs and Liam Shepherd field goals, the Vikes scored 20 unanswered in the second quarter and wouldn’t relinquish that lead the rest of the way.
“It’s real nice to have that many big guys out in front of me,” Burbee said. “Last year, we had a bunch of big guys and it’s been nice that we’ve been able to fill the roles of the guys that graduated.”
Chesterton (2-3, 2-1) hit two chunk plays through the air with Bullock’s TD and Jackson Westmoreland catching a 45-yard score in the third that cut the Valpo lead to 23-21. Mullen threw for 215 yards and stayed particularly clean of Valparaiso’s vaunted defensive line – until the Trojans’ final two drives.
Chesterton had the ball and a chance at the lead with just over eight minutes in the game at its own 26 after a Patrick McLaughlin kick, but Indiana commit Cooper Jones and Co. (Mason Jones and Dylan Dingman) had other ideas.
Mullen was dragged down by Dingman on first down; the Jones brothers met at Mullen for a sack on second and Cooper rounded out the hat trick with a sack on third down, forcing a Chesterton punt.
“Generally speaking, they’re the best we’ve seen so far, they play at a different speed,” Chesterton coach Mark Peterson said. “Mason does some things with all that length and Cooper is fantastic inside and you put those two together, that’s about 14 feet in wingspan. Later in a game like that, a player like Cooper is gonna play at another gear and he did and even when they brought four, he still played at a whole different speed.”
At 6-foot-6, Mason Jones is someone Marshall has been excited about in terms of development as Jones learns how to use his prototypical edge rusher frame.
“He’s 6-foot-6, all arms and legs, and he understands what length like that can do for you on the edge,” Marshall said. “The ability to raise your hands and be almost eight-feet tall poses a problem for a kid (like Mullen) that can sit in the pocket and throw the ball. He understands the concepts better, the technique side of everything.
“He’s been really working on his body and he really capitalized on the work he’s put in tonight.”
Marshall made sure to note that Mason’s mental focus and preparation was on point all week.
“That’s really something to say for a sophomore to be able to have that clarity and focus and do the things he did,” Marshall said.
As it turned out, it was Mason that sealed the deal for Valpo on Chesterton’s next possession as he tracked down Mullen for a strip-sack that junior linebacker Mason McMullen recovered.
“(Mullen) was still looking to pass, and he didn’t see me behind him,” Mason Jones said. “I thought, if I can get the ball, the game’s over.”
Four plays later the game was indeed all but over as Burbee capped his night with a 33-yard touchdown.
After having missed two games due to COVID-19, the senior running back said he is just counting his blessings.
“It’s frustrating for all of us, but you just gotta be optimistic,” Burbee said. “We could have not played and even could have been shut down for the season. You just can’t take anything for granted, but it really does make us work harder.”
Valparaiso 30, Chesterton 21
Chesterton 7 7 7 0 – 21
Valparaiso 0 20 3 7 – 30
C – Chase McLaughlin 55 interception return (Jackson Syren kick), 2:04
V – Liam Shepherd 33 field goal, 11:18
C – Colby Bullock 71 pass from Chris Mullen (Syren kick), 11:02
V – Tommy Burbee 1 run (Shepherd kick), 5:44
V – Burbee 46 run (Shepherd kick), 4:30
V – Shepherd 22 field goal, 0:00
V – Shepherd 35 field goal, 4:44
C – Jackson Westmoreland 45 pass from Mullen (Syren kick), 0:55
V – Burbee 33 run (Shepherd kick), 1:50
RUSHING – CHESTERTON, Ethan Pickering 4-16, Chris Mullen 11-4, Ethan Troy 1-2. VALPARAISO, Tommy Burbee 38-305, Hayden Vinyard 8-41, Logan Lockhart 5-24, Colin Kwiatkowski 1-6, Rowland Sorrick 1-3.
PASSING – CHESTERTON, Mullen 18-26-1-205. VALPARAISO, Lockhart 3-6-1-48.
RECEIVING – CHESTERTON, Colby Bullock 10-102, Jackson Westmoreland 4-51, Mitch McElfresh 2-38, Jude Mochen 2-14. VALPARAISO, Grant Comstock 1-28, Blake Worthington 1-11, Ricky Hall Jr. 1-9.