Photo  by Gary Nieter, Times-Union

Tippecanoe Valley coach Kris Walker congratulates freshman Elijah Music-Smith on his tackle Monday night.
Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union Tippecanoe Valley coach Kris Walker congratulates freshman Elijah Music-Smith on his tackle Monday night.
Unified flag football launched its third season as a sanctioned IHSAA varsity sport Monday night at Fisher Field. Two of the state’s 25 charter teams from 2018 engaged in a high-scoring contest resulting in a 44-34 win for the Tippecanoe Valley Vikings over the host Warsaw Tigers.

Unified flag football partners students with and without special needs for a blend of competition, fellowship, and fun. Tiger head coach Fred Parrett, a Warsaw fireman, talked about what he hopes the kids will gain from the experience.

Parrett said, “We want the athletes to just come out and have fun, and let these children experience the opportunity to compete with other schools. Many of these kids don’t get to play other high school sports.”

Tori Parrett, Fred’s daughter, and a paraprofessional at Warsaw Community High School, spends time with the athletes after school to be sure they are ready to compete a few hours later.

Tori said, “We usually keep them at the school, order Jimmy John’s, and play some games. A lot of times if the kids go home after school, they want to stay there. (This is how) we make sure all of our kids are here and ready to play.”

The first half was a back-and-forth scoring battle. Valley’s Dominic Kohler scored first on a 35-yard TD scamper (the field is 60 yards with half the width of the field used). Andrew Thompson threw the first of his three extra point conversion passes to put the Vikings up 8-0.

Quentin Shepherd connected with Jaxson Gould for the first Tiger score, but the extra point conversion was thwarted, leaving the Tigers trailing 8-6.

The Vikings added another score by Owen Kleusener to round out the first quarter action with a 16-6 lead.

Warsaw outscored the Vikes 20-14 to close to tighten their deficit 30-26 in the second frame. Adam Slabach snared a 3-yard TD pass, and Shepherd threw the two-point conversion pass to start the see-saw scoring.

Valley responded with another Kleusener TD run.

Warsaw’s Gould found Aaron Hobbs in the end zone for a 35-yard strike.

Damien Kohler added a score for Valley.

Hobbs responded for the Tigers by snaring his second TD pass before the teams broke for the half.

The Vikings added two more third quarter scores to push their lead to 44-26. The score bringing Valley fans to their feet was a 25-yard strike from Thompson to Michael Wright.

The hosts scored the game’s final touchdown when Shepherd juked his way into the end zone on a 7-yard run, with Hobbs snaring the extra point conversion pass to the joy of Warsaw’s fans. The orange and black enjoyed the evening’s competitive spirit and the fans’ vocal support despite the loss.

Tori Parret said, “It’s really rewarding. They can lose, and they still make it fun.”

Warsaw travels to Foreman Field Monday, September 21st to battle the Goshen RedHawks at 6:30 p.m.