Week 2 - Football Game of the Week Preview

4A Highland (0-1) at
6A Crown Point (0-1)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


The last time Highland played a varsity football game at CPHS, the present CPHS site was nothing but long, tall grass and the sunset. When the sun goes down this Friday, Highland plays the 'new 'Crown Point high school for the first time at 7 p.m. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When: Friday, August 25, 2017;  Kick-off: 7 p.m. CDT.

Where: Crown Point High School, 1500 South Main (one mile south of the CP downtown square).


TV/Radio/Internet: No over-the air radio. Live updates of all local scores all night on WLPR (89.1) FM. Live Internet audio stream on www.USA-365.com.

Enrollment: Crown Point - 2,815; Highland - 1,128.

This will be one of the best nights of the season no matter what the next three months bring. Cooler temperatures. Low humidity. Really good for late August. Some like it hot, but 'hot' is not for football. Kickoff will see a temperature in the upper-60s in the sunset. Late in the game, we'll be in the low 60s. Light winds. No rain. They call it "Goldilocks weather." "Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right.

PARKING: I believe this is 'Senior Night' at Crown Point and there would be a good crowd anyway for the home opener. I can't say for sure how many fans Highland will bring. From an attendance standpoint, it would have helped had they won last week. But Highland hasn't played at CPHS since the 1990s. Maybe there will be a little curiosity.
Either way, the home opener for Crown Point in comfortable weather usually draws a good home crowd and local folks are more likely to come out to see Highland than Mishawaka, the team CP has faced in week two the last few years.

WHAT's AT STAKE: Nothing. These teams don't have any recent connection and they can't meet in the post-season. Both teams need a win this Friday, but they have no true football history that anyone but us old folks can remember.
With that said, this would be a very big win for Highland to defeat a defending 6A sectional champ. If the Trojans keep the game close into the second half, they'll get very excited about this and, win or lose, that could be a big 'plus' for the remainder of the season. Highland only has to play well and keep it close Friday. Crown Point has to win.

The HISTORY: There is no recent history, but CP and Highland were members of the old Lake Suburban Conference from 1970 to 1991. Highland played CP in 1992 and then the schedules changed, CP playing in the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) and Highland joining the newly formed Lake Shore Conference. Highland began playing football in 1958 and they met up with Crown Point from 1960 on.

Friday will be the 34th meeting of CP and Highland according to 'NorthernIndianaFootball.com'. The series was tied 14-14 before Crown Point won the last five to take a 19-14 edge. No games in the last 25 years.

The reason for the breakup of the Lake Suburban Conference (LSC) was enrollment. Lake Central and Crown Point (and Merrillville, which was in the LSC briefly) started growing and the rest of the schools (Highland, Munster, Calumet, Griffith and Lowell) did not. LC, CP and Merrillville eventually ended up in the Duneland Conference while Lowell, Munster and Highland are half of the Northwest Crossroads Conference.

Calumet and Griffith have drifted to the Greater South Shore Conference (GSSC) where the schools are even smaller than in the NCC.

Schools try to go to athletic conferences where all their sports can compete, which is why Griffith, which competes well in football and basketball, still left for the GSSC. They must project enrollment declines.

But small schools always want that one game where they play the 'big school' and go for the upset. That's why Highland is coming to Crown Point Friday night.

(4A) Highland (0-1)
5-6 (2016), 4-6 (2015), 6-5 (2014), 5-6, (2013)
Coach: Trent Grider (6th year) 23-33 -All kickoffs at 7 p.m.
Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) league games in CAPS
8-18 (L) 23-27 Morton (1-0)
8-25 (Fri) at Crown Point (0-1) 7 p.m.
9-1 (F) Clark (0-1) 7 p.m.
9-8 (F) at Gavit (1-0) 7 p.m.
9-15 (F) MUNSTER (0-1)
9-22 (F) at LOWELL (1-0)
9-29 (F) HOBART (0-1)
10-6 (F) KANKAKEE VALLEY (0-1)
10-13 (F) ANDREAN (1-0)

- Two years ago, Highland opened the season with Class 1A Lake Station. The Trojans have played Hammond high in week two for the last eight years. Now they play Crown Point in week two. They clearly want to upgrade the competition and that will make impressive won-loss records pretty tough for awhile. In the last four years, Highland harvested some easy wins over Lake Station, Clark and Hammond high. Only Clark is still on the schedule. Road games at Lowell and Gavit will be hard rides into the night and the home finale with Andrean will be a challenge.

I admire Highland for playing a tough (for Class 4A schedule) but I don't see a winning season if they can't win at CP or at Gavit.


- I was surprised by the Trojans losing the home opener last week 27-23 to Morton. This is supposed to be a good year for them with 14 starters back from last year's 5-6 squad. Highland outgained Morton 292-167 but lost three turnovers that cost them the victory. Two Highland fumbles were run back for Morton TDs.

The key player in week one was someone who didn't start (on offense) in 2016. The Trojans' new quarterback Dean Foundos (6-1, 165) completed 5-of-11 passes for 131 yards and he ran 24 times for 134 yards. He reportedly ran Highland's Wing-T offense well, so I doubt that last week's loss was demoralizing. Junior Trent Slaven (6-1, 180) may play some at quarterback, but he'll also play at wide receiver where he caught three passes for 98 yards last fall.

Highland isn't as big as CP is up front, but they aren't small, led by co-captains Ethan Fitt (5-11, 255) and Gannon Grider (6-6, 250) and defensive tackle Keon Reeves (6-3, 250). The Trojans' kicker Kyle Tanis booted a 30-yard field goal last week and they held Morton to only six first downs.

Not having been there to see it, I'm not sure they should have lost this one, looking at the box score. Junior halfback Rafel Rios, Highland's biggest rushing threat, only carried seven times last week and the Trojans still moved the ball. Highland will come to Crown Point trying to prove that last week's loss was a fluke.


- If you don't count special teams as defense, Crown Point had a good defensive game last week. But you probably do count special teams as defense and there was certainly work this week at Bulldog practice on kickoff returns after Lowell ran two back for TDs last week.

Crown Point held Lowell to 84 yards rushing last week on 38 carries. That caliber run defense will win a lot of games. Linebackers Zach Ramus (5-11, 190) and Caden Watson (6-0, 205) both recorded 14 tackles, while cornerback Sam Krutz (6-1, 180) was in on 13 stops. I was especially impressed that Lowell never broke a run longer than 10 yards in 38 attempts. I don't think anyone else this year is going to stop Lowell's rushing attack to that extent.

The pass defense was adequate, but they did give up two touchdown passes. Ethan Potosky and Tim Darche garnered interceptions. CP did collect four turnovers.

Crown Point didn't run the ball as well as I thought they would, gaining just 49 yards on 22 carries against a good Lowell defense. They know that has to get better and it should. I think the offensive line, when the Bulldogs get a lead or can stay even, will be able to wear teams down. I know. It didn't happen at Lowell.

Trailing all night, CP quarterback Ryan Bolda threw the ball 36 times, completing 14 for 149 yards and one TD. Those are not good numbers, but I thought Bolda, who was sacked three times, played fairly well. Senior receiver Eric Mahaffey caught five passes for 85 yards and a TD while tight end Ben Fridrich grabbed five more passes. This is an all-senior group and I'm confident they'll score more than 13 points in most games this fall.

at Crown Point Stadium - capacity: 4,800


SAGARIN RATINGS: CP is a 27-point favorite in this game.

The computer ratings are a little deceptive early in the year due to a lack of games to go on. But Highland lost the opener at home. CP lost on the road to a Top-10 squad. There is the 6A vs. 4A thing here, although I don't know if that figures in here since both CP and Highland faced a 4A school last year. I'll say that I think 27 points is too high. But I thought Highland would beat Morton by more than a TD last week.


CROWN POINT (08-25-2017) I love passing. If I was a coach, I'd have four wide receivers out there every play and I'd throw the ball until my quarterback's arm got tired. But I'm pretty sure Crown Point doesn't want to throw the ball 36 times and run it 22 like they did last week. Let me predict those numbers turn around. CP will throw 22 times or less and run 36 times or more.

I think it's going to be a good night for the offensive line and senior halfback Tyler Gomez, who should score a couple of TDs early for a 14-0 lead.

Highland new QB Dean Foundos will cut the lead in half with a long TD run, but a Ben Fridrich field goal before the half makes it 17-7.

If I would pick a big turnover, it will be a pass interception by Sam Krutz, run back for a TD and a 24-7 edge. Both these teams turned the ball over three times last week so a CP fumble may let the Trojans close the gap. A Foundos TD pass to Trent Slaven after a CP fumble makes it 24-14.

As we get late in the game, CP runs the ball more effectively and Gomez adds a third TD.

This isn't a mismatch, but the Bulldogs will eventually run well against Highland. An inspired effort by the Trojans won't be represented in the final score.



CROWN POINT 31, Highland 17

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Revised: August 24, 2017.