Bulldogs' defense, goal line stand and Bolda TD pass 'enough' for 10-6 win over LC in Sectional Semifinal

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


Linebacker Bailey Miles (6) keeps an eye on LC passer Zach Bundalo (14) early in Friday's playoff game in Crown Point. (All photos by Mark Smith)
CP senior Zach Stewart (29) looks to take on LC wide receiver Josh Benson (85) in second quarter action last Friday. CP held LC to just six completed passes.
CP junior Ryan Bolda (19) looks to fire downfield in his first varsity start last week against Lake Central. Bolda had an early interception but he tossed the game-winning TD pass in the third quarter.
LC sophomore Zach Bundalo (14) hands off to halfback Anthony Giles (25) and has thoughts of blocking CP noseguard Nick Winter (66).
LC defensive end Sam Barnhart (62) gets high to tip this pass by CP quarterback Ryan Bolda (19) despite the best efforts of halfback Tyler Gomez (42).
CP linebacker Don Schuch (25) is in on the blitz against LC quarterback Zach Bundalo (14) in the 67A Sectional 1 semifinals last Friday.
CP's Zach Stewart recovers a loose ball in the second quarter. The CP defense held Lake Central without a touchdown.
Griffin Govert (30) goes in motion in support off CP quarterback Ryan Bolda (19) in the playoff opener last week at Crown Point.
Lake Central linebacker Jackson Long (44) does more than 'hurry' CP quarterback Ryan Bolda (19) on a pass attempt in the second period.
The CP band was playing as hard as the football team last Friday for the Class 6A Sectional 1 playoffs in Crown Point.
The Crown Point dance team put on a playoff show just like the team did. CP has to win this Friday at Merrillville to have a chance for another home game in the playoffs.
Crown Point head coach Kevin Enright has seen his team win three games in arrow and reach the Class 6A Sectional 1 championship game. (All photos by Mark Smith)

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Revised: November 01, 2016 .







Lake Central (4-6)












Friday, October 28, 2016 -  62 degrees in CROWN POINT, IN

1st QtrCROWN POINT (3-0) Ben Fridrich 21-yard field goal. 0:00 left.
2nd Qtr: LAKE CENTRAL (3-3) Jeremy Rainwater, 43-yard field goal. 0:49 left.

3rd Qtr: CROWN POINT (10-3) Tyler Jones, 6-yard TD pass from Ryan Bolda. 28-yard drive, 4 plays. Ben Fridrich kick. 4:59 left.

4th Qtr: LAKE CENTRAL (10-6) Jeremy Rainwater, 28-yard field goal. 47-yard drive, 5 plays. 9:53 left.


LAKE CENTRAL (24 carries, 72 yards) Anthony Giles (HB) 16 caries, 57 yards; Josh Williams (HB) 4-11 yards; Mitch Johnson (QB) 2-1 yard; Quincy Tribble (HB) 1-1 yard;, Zach Bundalo (QB) 1-2 yards.
CROWN POINT (30 carries, 71 yards) Tyler Gomez (HB) 15 carries, 29 yards; Griffin Govert (FB) 4-7 yards; Ryan Bolda (QB) 8-33 yards, Shane McCormick (WR) 3-2 yards.

LAKE CENTRAL: Zach Bundalo (QB) 6 of 23, 89 yards, no TDs, no interceptions;
CROWN POINT: Ryan Bolda (QB) 6 of 21, 39 yards, one TD, one interception.


LAKE CENTRAL: Josh Benson (WR) 1 catch, 29 yards, Austin Atkins (WR) 5-60 yards;
CROWN POINT: Tyler Jones (WR) 4 catches, 23 yards, TD; Shane McCormack (WR) 5-78 yards, Tyler Gomez (HB) 1-8 yards, Shane McCormick (WR) 1-13 yards

LAKE CENTRAL: 161 yards, 4 first downs, 2 turnovers;
CROWN POINT: 110 yards, 6 first downs, one turnover.

Nick Lucas (LC)
BLOCKED KICK: Caden Watson (CP)

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CROWN POINT (10-28-2016) I just thought that when you imagine your high school football team winning, you think of dramatic 28-27 or 35-34 games. Not 10-6 like Crown Point's win over rival Lake Central in the Class 6A Sectional 1 semifinals last Friday. You don't think it'll be like that, do you?

"A little bit, yeah," said CP co-captain and defensive back Zach Schmidt on the field after the big Bulldog win. "Every game's not going to be a blowout." Zach said, "Every game's been close. Except for Chesterton because they lost so many seniors. Every other game was a close game. But I love it. I don't like blowouts. They're no fun. Games like this one, the adrenaline kicks in. I still can't feel much of anything. Feels great."

CP (5-5) had reason to feel good. They will play into November after another defense dominated success. Crown Point held Lake Central (5-5) without a touchdown and junior quarterback Ryan Bolda, making his first varsity start, tossed a six-yard third quarter pass to Tyler Jones to give CP just enough to win.

The Bulldogs didn't start well. Bolda, starting in place of senior Grayson Lynk in one of those 'undisclosed reason' (non injury) situations, was intercepted by LC defensive back Nick Lucas at the Lake Central 4-yard line when CP appeared to be set to take the lead.

On the next play, Lake Central's 1,000-yard rusher Anthony Giles broke loose on a 23-yard run. Three plays later, Caden Watson blocked a Lake Central punt setting up a 21-yard field goal by the Bulldogs' Ben Fridrich on the final play of the first period.

In the second quarter, both teams punted twice before LC moved the ball to the Crown Point 26 and Jeremy Rainwater booted a 43-yard field goal to tie the game going into halftime.

Both teams punted twice in the third quarter, but LC's second boot, into a 20 mile-an-hour wind, went out of bounds at the LC 28-yard-line.

CP junior halfback Tyler Gomez ran for 15 yards and two plays later, Bolda, a 6-foot-2 right-hander, tossed a quick short pass to Jones in the west corner of the north end zone to give his side a 10-3 lead.

"It was a 'back shoulder fade' (a pass intentionally behind the receiver so the defender can't touch it) to one of my best friends. That's stuff we do in the back yard. For a long time. I was nervous starting. The nerves were huge, but I just tried to be ready."

"He was a little nervous this week once he knew he was starting," said Schmidt. "I'm a captain so I went over to his house to calm him down a little. I told him, 'We've got nothing to lose. We were 1-9 last year. Now, we can be 5-5.' He was fine. He got all the nerves out this game. He'll be much better next week. Ryan's smart. He's athletic. He can play the game. He can read defenses. He'll be good."

Bolda was thankful.

"He's been telling me all week how good I was going to do. He's telling me to go in there and win the game. After the game, he just gave me a big hug and told me he was proud of me."

Crown Point's defense should hear all the praise it is getting.

In the fourth quarter, Lake Central had the ball twice. Sophomore QB Zach Bundalo completed a 36-yard pass to Austin Atkins down to the Bulldog 11-yard-line. But CP stopped Giles running the ball and forced two incompletions from Bundalo and field goal kicker Rainwater was called on to boot a 28-yarder to cut the CP lead to 10-6 with 9:53 left in the game.

LC got the ball back three minuets later and Bundalo completed a 29-yard pass to Josh Benson down to the Crown Point 10-yard-line. When CP jumped offside on first down LC had a 1st-and-goal from the 5-yard line and it looked like LC would take the lead.

But Bundalo threw an incompletion on first down. CP stopped Giles after a 3-yard gain on second down. Bundalo was rushed hard and threw another incompletion on third down, bringing it all down to 4th-and goal from the 2.

LC ran Giles, the 190-pound senior who had 1,083 yards rushing on 145 carries during the regular season. Watson, CP's junior leading tackler, slipped into the backfield and tripped up the LC halfback and he was covered up at the 2-yard-line, turning the ball over to Crown Point.

LC would have had one more chance. They forced a Crown Point punt with two minutes to go. The punt, into the wind, was short and it bounced backward towards the CP goal line, but it appeared to strike the leg of LC senior Anthony Garcia and was recovered by CP sophomore Sam Krutz.

The Bulldogs then ran out the clock to advance to the sectional title game.

Crown Point's defense won the game. They forced LC to punt eight times in the first three quarters. The Bulldogs' perimeter defense matched up against Benson and Atkins, LC's two pass catching stars. Schmidt, senior Jacob Berry and even 6-foot-6 wide receiver Shane McCormick were all called to duty to stop the Lake Central passing attack.

"They had us manned up the whole time against them," said Schmidt. "I think Benson hurt his knee a little and we focused on Atkins. We all needed to be good. It was a team effort."

It might be time to re-evaluate Crown Point's .500 season.

The Lowell team CP defeated 9-3 in August is playing for a 4A sectional title next Friday. The Red Devils have won their two playoff games 65-6 and 49-2. The Michigan City teams Crown Point defeated is playing for a 5A sectional title next Friday at Mishawaka. Three of the teams that beat Crown Point (LaPorte, Mishawaka and, of course, Merrillville) are also playing for sectional championships next week. Mishawaka is 9-2. LaPorte is 9-1.

Of the 300-plus teams playing Indiana high school football, Crown Point has faced the 22nd toughest schedule. Maybe playing a lot of close, low-scoring games is a sign of honor.

"LC's really got a lot of talent," said Schmidt after his team advanced in the post-season. "My teammates did a fantastic job to stop them. We knew this would be a battle. All our games are. It's insane."

DOG NOTES: Crown Point last won three games in a row in the second half of the 2014 season when they won five consecutive games. That streak stopped with a 45-42 home loss to Merrillville in sectional play. In the last four seasons, CP has been eliminated from sectional play by Merrillville three times.

It's been 10 years since Crown Point defeated Lake Central twice in the same season. The Bulldogs topped LC 17-3 and 10-6 this year. In 2006, they won 31-14, and 49-0. CP lost twice to Lake Central 23-0 and 9-6 in the 2013 season.

Of the top-12 ranked teams in Class 6A, 10 will be playing for sectional championships this Friday night.

In his varsity debut Ryan Bolda was just 6-of-20 passing but he did gain 33 yards and three big first downs on eight carries.

"It's the read option," said Bolda. "I just read what the defensive end does. He kept doing the same thing so I just pulled the ball back and took off. The line opened up some huge holes and I was able to go through there and get good yards."

Bolda will start in place of Grayson Lynk at Merrillville as well.

No one would (or could) say anything official about why Lynk (76 of 187, 977 yards passing, 76 carries for 458 yards rushing in 9 games) was not with the team, but the reason was rumored to be a violation of team and school rules. His absence is not injury related.

Merrillville (5-5) got 126 yards on 21 carries from Davion Ervin-Poindexter in a 22-21 win over Portage. Poindexter has 1,046 yards and 14 TDs on 216 carries. Merrillville has played four games without sophomore quarterback Cam Wright, who threw four touchdown passes in a 42-28 win over Crown Point on September 2. Wright reportedly has a shoulder injury.

Coach: Kevin Enright, 28-24 in 5th year at school
Aug. 19 Lowell {4A} 2ot W   9-  3   
Aug. 26 at Mishawaka {5A}   L   6-10   
Sep. 2 at Merrillville {6A}   L 28-41   
Sep. 9 Lake Central {6A}  W 17-  3   
Sep. 16 Portage {6A}   L   3-  7   
Sep. 23 at Valparaiso {6A}   L   7-21   
Sep. 30 at LaPorte {6A}   L 16-34   
Oct. 7 Chesterton {6A}  W 28-  0   
Oct. 14 at Michigan City {5A}  W 42-21   
Oct. 28 Lake Central {6A}  W 10-  6  sectional
Nov. 4 at Merrillville {6A} 7:00 pm  sectional
Coach: Brett St. Germain, 42-28 in 7th year at school, 92-40 in 12th year overall
Aug. 19 Munster {4A}  W 35-  7   
Aug. 26 Lincoln-Way Central (Ill.)   L 21-24   
Sep. 2 at Portage {6A}   L 33-36   
Sep. 9 at Crown Point {6A}   L   3-17   
Sep. 16 LaPorte {6A}   L 17-35   
Sep. 23 at Michigan City {5A}   L 42-46   
Sep. 30 Chesterton {6A}  W 38-  0   
Oct. 7 at Merrillville {6A}  W 23-  7   
Oct. 14 Valparaiso {6A}  W 21-20   
Oct. 28 at Crown Point {6A}   L   6-10  sectional

All records include the victory a team would receive for winning sectional final
CLASS 6A REGIONALS, Nov. 11, 2016
  Merrillville [6-5] at Penn [11-0]
or LaPorte [10-1] at Crown Point [6-5]
or Merrillville [6-5] at LaPorte [10-1]
or Crown Point [6-5] at Penn [11-0]
CLASS 5A REGIONALS, Nov. 11, 2016
  Mishawaka [10-2] at Fort Wayne Snider [11-0]
or Goshen [9-2] at Michigan City [8-3]
or Goshen [9-2] at Mishawaka [10-2]
or Fort Wayne Snider [11-0] at Michigan City [8-3]
CLASS 4A REGIONALS, Nov. 11, 2016
  Munster [7-5] at Hobart [10-2]
or New Prairie [10-2] at Lowell [8-4]
or Munster [7-5] at New Prairie [10-2]
or Lowell [8-4] at Hobart [10-2]
CLASS 3A REGIONALS, Nov. 11, 2016
  Griffith [9-3] at Jimtown [8-4]
or Garrett [11-1] at Mishawaka Marian [11-1]
or Garrett [11-1] at Griffith [9-3]
or Jimtown [8-4] at Mishawaka Marian [11-1]
CLASS 2A REGIONALS, Nov. 11, 2016
  Knox [10-2] at Bremen [9-3]
or Winamac [8-4] at Whiting [11-1]
or Knox [10-2] at Winamac [8-4]
or Whiting [11-1] at Bremen [9-3]
CLASS 1A REGIONALS, Nov. 11, 2016
  North Judson [6-6] at Attica [9-3]
or Lafayette Central Catholic [12-0] at Pioneer [12-0]
or Lafayette Central Catholic [12-0] at North Judson [6-6]
or Attica [9-3] at Pioneer [12-0]