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The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

Knights Fall to Gators in Annual Valpo Bowl, Remain Optimistic

During+player+introductions%2C+senior+lineman+Parker+Ashton+runs+through+the+tunnel+created+by+his+teammates+and+coaches.+Staff+photo%3A+Asher+Darling
During player introductions, senior lineman Parker Ashton runs through the tunnel created by his teammates and coaches. Staff photo: Asher Darling

Menlo was defeated by Sacred Heart 31-19 on Nov. 3 at Cartan Field in the 21st Valpo Bowl. The rivalry game marked the end of the regular season for both the Knights and Gators, who finished with 9-1 and 6-4 records, respectively. The event also raised $11,745 toward Peninsula Bridge according to Assistant Upper Director Frances Ferrell. 

Before kickoff, Menlo’s nine seniors were recognized for their impact on the football program. Each senior was announced, before taking a photo with their parents and individualized signs. 

On the game’s opening drive, Sacred Heart running back Ravu Savali found the endzone as the Gators jumped out to an early lead. The Knights would respond when senior quarterback Mikey McGrath connected with senior wide receiver Brady Jung for a long gain. The team capitalized on the big play, as senior wide receiver Harry Housser’s touchdown catch tied the game at seven. Sacred Heart linebacker Anthony Noto’s interception and subsequent touchdown opened a dominant second quarter for the Gators, in which they scored 21 points. Menlo sophomore quarterback Jack Freehill answered, hitting senior tight end Bradford Tudor for a Menlo score.

 With a few minutes left in the second quarter, the lights on the Gator sideline lost power, leading to a 40-minute delay. After waiting and discussing, the teams decided to regroup for halftime early, where both Menlo and Sacred Heart’s dance teams performed. Once the lights were fixed and play resumed, Sacred Heart would go on a 17-0 run, expanding their lead. In the fourth quarter, junior defensive lineman David Mhatre recovered a fumble for the Knights, which led to a McGrath rushing touchdown with under six minutes left. The last-minute effort from Menlo proved too late, as the Gators ran the clock down to end the game.

Senior running back Willis Johnson rallied the team, motivating the group after the tough loss. “I told everyone that we got what we deserved, and we’ve got to use this as fuel to work harder over the next couple of weeks,” he said. “We’re going to see [Sacred Heart] again in playoffs, and we’re gonna [get them back].”

The offensive coordinator for the Knights, Mike Hill, sees room for improvement for the team on his side of the ball. “Offensively, we need to score when we get down into the red zone,” he said. “I think we came up just short on two drives, so that could have been a real difference-maker.” Hill remains excited about the team’s opportunities in the postseason despite the disappointing end to the regular season. “We wanted to go undefeated, but that’s just extra,” Hill said. “We are still in a great position to make a deep run.”

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About the Contributors
Asher Darling, Staff Writer

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 2

Favorite aspect of journalism: The freedom to explore topics that interest me through my passion for writing and collaborating with the rest of the COA staff

Interests outside of school: Basketball, traveling, spending time with friends and family

Class of 2026

Devon Schaefer, Staff Writer

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 2

Favorite aspect of journalism: sharing fascinating stories with the Menlo community

Interests outside of school: lacrosse, soccer, cooking, reading

Class of 2025

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