At Valpo Bowl, 21 Seniors Allowed at Football Game for First Time in Over a Year


Senior wide receiver and defensive back Chris d’Alencon after catching a pass from junior quarterback Sergio Beltran. Photo courtesy of Pam Tso McKenney.

Danielle McNair, Staff Writer

The Menlo School Knights (4-1) faced off against the Sacred Heart Prep Gators (5-1) in the annual Valpo Bowl rivalry football game on Saturday, April 17. After a competitive matchup, the Gators came out on top, beating the Knights 28-7. 

Until the Valpo Bowl game, COVID-19 restrictions only allowed immediate family members of the athletes to attend football games. On April 14, Dean of Students Tony Lapolla sent an email to the senior class stating that both Menlo and Sacred Heart Prep would be allowed to invite 21 seniors to the game. A Google Form was sent out to the grade, allowing seniors to indicate their interest in attending this year’s game. The winners of the Valpo Bowl were randomly selected through a lottery and were announced on April 15. 

“I was so excited to get to go to Valpo,” senior Sabette Grieve said. “I missed football and watching live sports so much. Being there with so many of my friends cheering on our team in what turned out to be a really good game was amazing.” 

Senior Christian Corcoran had similar thoughts about being one of the 21 seniors randomly selected to attend. “Getting chosen was awesome. I’m an avid sports fan and have been away from school sports for so long, so getting the opportunity to see my classmates play football was exciting,” Corcoran said. 

Menlo scored their only touchdown of the game on a hook and ladder play in which two receivers run a specific route combination. One receiver runs a hook and receives the pass, while the other receiver runs a crossing route underneath the hook and receives a lateral pass from the initial ball carrier. “That first touchdown was definitely the highlight of the game,” Grieve said. 

On a third down, junior Sergio Beltran passed to senior Chris d’Alencon for a 16-yard completion securing a first down, yet d’Alencon then lateraled the ball to junior Carter Jung for a 61-yard touchdown with just over three minutes to play in the first quarter. 

“Watching from our end zone as [Jung] scored was so cool and the atmosphere was hype even with the social distancing protocols,” Grieve said.

Despite Sacred Heart Prep’s dominance in the second half, Menlo’s defense continued to stymie the Sacred Heart Prep offense. I was really proud of Menlo’s ability to stay on top for the first quarter and then continue to fight for the remainder of the game,” senior Luke Yuen said.

“To be able to compete against a team in the league above us is pretty impressive.” 

Corcoran was also proud of his peers’ performance against Sacred Heart Prep. “The Menlo players gave it all they had and honestly deserved more than they got. They fought hard and had some incredible plays,” Corcoran said. “I wish everyone the best going forward, whether they are playing in college, that was the end of their career or have another year with Menlo.”

Senior Troy Demmon, a Sea of Gold spirit captain, dressed to go Gator Hunting at the Valpo Bowl game against Sacred Heart Prep on April 17. Staff photo: Danielle McNair. (Danielle McNair)

Valpo Bowl was the Class of 2021’s final opportunity to attend a football game as students of Menlo School. The seniors in attendance spoke about aspects of Menlo football such as a sense of community and the excitement surrounding big games that they are going to miss most. 

“I am going to miss the spirit in the stands and the coming together of the class to support one another in our passions, through both wins and losses,” senior Emily Boal said.  

“The social aspect of football games and also being able to see your friends play a sport they love and support them is incredible,” senior Chris Cook said. “Menlo football has always given me good vibes. I’m gonna miss it.”

“I am going to miss rallying my teammates and pushing each other during practice,” senior cornerback and wide receiver Justin Creamer said. “It can get really tough out on the field and I’ll miss being out there with the other seniors to push each other forward.”

Grieve is especially going to miss rivalry football games against Sacred Heart Prep. “Heckling Sacred Heart was always fun. No matter what the score was, yelling at them was always funny. It never got old,” Grieve said. 

As a soccer player, Corcoran acknowledges the excitement that comes with playing in front of a huge crowd. “I will miss chanting with my classmates and supporting the players. It is rewarding when you’re out on the field and people on the stands are cheering you on, so giving that back to the football players has always been fun,” Corcoran said. “Being at Menlo football games is a special feeling. I’m definitely going to miss it.”