Week 1 - Football Game of the Week Preview

4A Lowell (7-5) at
6A Crown Point (6-5)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith



Many games have been postponed or cancelled for this Friday, but one has not been. We can't be sure how many people will be in the stands, but the 2020 high school football season will begin Friday night with the traditional Lowell-Crown Point game. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When: 7:00 p.m., CDT on Friday, August 21, 2020.

Where: Crown Point High School, 1500 South Main, Crown point, IN 46307.
TV/Radio/Internet: No radio or TV. And, unfortunately, we are unable to provide a live Internet audio stream on www.USA-365.com, due to the COVID-19 pandemic (after 16 consecutive years of streaming Bulldogs Football). But we will continue to provide print and photo coverage this fall from Mark Smith on USA-365.com!

Tickets: $6

Enrollment: LOWELL - 1,107; CROWN POINT - 2,861.


For the record, in 1996, IHSAA records said that Lowell had 1,111 students, almost exactly the same total they are credited with this year. The new Elkhart high school, the consolidation of Elkhart Central and Elkhart Memorial is a 6A school listed as having 2,550 students.

Elkhart, Penn, Portage and Chesterton are in Sectional 2. CP, Merrillville, Lake Central and (Lafayette) Jefferson are in 6A Sectional 1. Lowell’s eight-team Class 4A Sectional 17? What happened here? Gavit and Morton are definitely not playing this fall. Griffith and Highland are not playing in week one. East Chicago only has three game scheduled. It could be a one game playoff between Hobart and Lowell.

WEATHER: We’ve had 25 90-degree days this summer and this one will be close. Mid-80s and humid, no weather for football at all. On the artificial turf at CPHS, the heat will be rough on the players. There will probably be some ‘water breaks’ in the first half with this being the first game of the season.

Lowell folks need to recall that the sun will set behind the home grandstand and, unless there’s a cloud cover, it may be difficult to see at the start of the game.

Okay, I know it's uncomfortable in the heat, but you are required to wear a face mask. I know. I hate it, too. But hang in there. As the seasons change, the mask wearing won't be so bad.


PARKING: This is a problem that no longer exists. This game usually draws 2,500 to 3,000 at Lowell or 3,500-4,000 at CPHS. Forget about it. IHSAA Covid-19 rules will limit the crowd, reportedly to 250. I think they should allow 500 to 750. I believe the CPHS stadium holds 4,800. We can all spread out. But whether it's 250 or 750, unless a lot of cars drive themselves to the game, there will be a lot of space for your car.

Let me say before the game: It will be different with so few fans. It will feel different and sound different. Lowell-CP games have been played in front of sellout or near-capacity crowds in recent years. We will notice the difference. I think it’s a disadvantage for the home team, which usually has the larger crowd. But, on this night, there will be no advantage.


WHAT's AT STAKE: This is the 24th consecutive season that Crown Point and Lowell have met on the opening night of the high school football season and it should always be that way. The two schools have met literally for over 100 years going back to a time before anybody even thought of a virus.

As always, this game means nothing in the long run. Class 4A Lowell and Class 6A CP can't meet in the post-season and they really have never seemed to dig up a real reason to dislike each other in the years I’ve been around.


The HISTORY: The web site NorthernIndianaFootball.com says the first Lowell-CP game was held in 1903, but the earliest score I can find comes from October 22, 1904 when CP beat Lowell 71-0. It is believed that Lowell and CP played football in the late 1890s which would make them the oldest rivalry in Lake County football. In the early 1900s there were no schools between the Gary-Hammond-East Chicago area and South Lake County.

Lowell and Crown Point played a home-and-home series for almost 20 years from 1934 to 1952 and they must have drawn good crowds or they wouldn’t have been playing each other twice. Before Hanover Central was built in the 1960s, CP and Lowell were border schools, and that’s probably why they have played for so long.

Crown Point leads what is the longest series in this part of the state 66 wins to 45 for Lowell with two ties, but Lowell leads the series 12-11 in the last 23 seasons. The Lowell-CP winner gets the 'Leather Helmet Trophy', obviously a tribute to the days when Lowell and Crown Point were both pioneers in Indiana high school football.

I’d love to see photos, but I’m told there aren’t any. Early 20th century games wouldn't have had helmets or pads of any kind. Or buses. Or lights for night games. Or scoreboards. Pre-World War I CP-Lowell games would have been played in the late afternoon. There may or may not have been crowds watching the games. So we’re almost coming full circle this Friday.

The 'Distant' Replay:  

Bulldogs' 4th Qtr comeback tipped away by Devils' Allessia, Lowell upsets CP 21-19

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

Team 1 2 3 4 F
CROWN POINT (0-1) 7 0 0 12 19

LOWELL (1-0)

7 14 0 0 21

Friday, August 23, 2019 -  67 degrees & clear (at kick-off) in season opener at LOWELL, IN

1st QtrCROWN POINT (7-0) Matthew Walters (TB), 2-yard run. 80-yard drive, 14 plays. Sammy Brewer kick. 5:52 min. left.
LOWELL (7-7) Aaron DuBord (TE), 5-yard pass from Cameron Stojancevich (QB). Nate Gard kick. 3:33
 min. left.
2nd Qtr: LOWELL (14-7) John Alessia III (WR), 28-yard pass from Cameron Stojancevich (QB). Nate Gard kick. 11:54 min. left.
LOWELL (21-7) Brad Goldsmith (WR), 83-yard pass from Cameron Stojancevich (QB). Nate Gard kick. 1:55 min.

3rd Qtr: No scoring.

4th Qtr: CROWN POINT (13-21) Tysen Casey (WR), 24-yard pass from Will Pettit (QB). High snap, pass failed. 9:57 min. left.
CROWN POINT (19-21) Tysen Casey (WR), 12-yard pass from Will Pettit (QB). Two-point pass from Pettitt to Ben Uran (TE) tipped away by John Allessia (FS). 2:37 min. left.


CROWN POINT (19 carries, 7 yards, one TD): Matthew Walters (HB) 9 carries, 21 yards; Davian Lira (HB) 4-2 yads; Will Pettit (QB) 5 carries (minus-22 yards 3 sacks – minus 22; David O’Toole (WR) 1-6 yards.

LOWELL (23 carries, 37 yards): Ryan Marx (QB-HB) 15 carries, 24 yards; Jon Alessia (WR) 2-0 yards; Jeffrey Wallis (HB) 2-16 yards; Adam Bank (HB) 3 (minus-4 yards); Cameron Stojancevich (QB) 1-1 yard.

Will Pettit (QB) 23 of 38, 336 yards 2 TDs, 0 INTs;

LOWELL: Cameron Stojancevich (QB) 7 of 10, 171 yards 3 TDs, one INT; Ryan Marx (QB-HB) 0-1 no yards.


CROWN POINT: Tysen Cazy (WR) 7 catches, 122 yards, 2 TDs; David O’Toole (WR) 6-89 yards; Felix Meeks (TE) 2-38 yards; Matthew Walters (HB) 2-4 yards; Ben Uran (TE) 5-72 yards; Treston Logan (WR) 1-11 yards.

LOWELL: Jeffrey Wallis (WR) 3-23 yards; John Alessia (WR) 2-62 yards, TD; Aaron DuBord (TE) 1-5 yards, TD; Bradley Goldsmith (WR) 1-83 yards, TD.


CP (1) Noah Hollendonner (CB);

CP (0) 

CROWN POINT = 335 yards, 15 first downs, 0 turnovers;
LOWELL = 236 yards, 4 first downs, 1 turnovers.


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LOWELL (8-23-2019) – One year ago, I thought Crown Point should have won this game. But they didn’t. CP scored on the opening possession and scored two fourth quarter touchdowns. But, in between, the home team did just enough for what, as it would turnout, was their best home win of the season.

What stuck with me about this game was how physically small Lowell was. I didn’t see them going 7-5 as they would end up doing.

For The Bulldogs, this was one of two crushing losses. The other being the sectional final, a 10-9 loss to Merrillville. Games CP could have and should have won.

2019 (4A) LOWELL (7-5)
10-3 (2018), 14-1 (2017) 9-5 (2016), 12-1 (2015)
Coach Keith Kilmer (10 years, 81-38) NCC Conference games in CAPS

8-23 (W) 21-19 vs. (6A) Crown Point (6-5)
8-30 (L) 9-35 at (6A) Portage (1-9)
9-6 (L) 23-35 at (4A) Morton (8-2)
9-13 (W) 42-28 (4A) Griffith (3-8)
9-20 (W) 21-14 at (4A) at KANKAKEE VALLEY (4-6)
9-27 (W) 24-7 at (4A) HIGHLAND (4-7)
10-4 (W) 48-13 at (5A) MUNSTER (0-10)
10-11 (L) 0-13 (2A) ANDREAN (8-3)
10-18 (L) 7-38 at (4A) HOBART (11-3)

Class 4A Sectional 17
10-25 (W) 63-0 Gary West Side (2-7)
11-1 (W) 55-20 at Griffith (3-8)
11-8 (L) 0-20 at Hobart (11-3)

2020 (4A) LOWELL (0-0)
7-5 (2019), 10-3 (2018), 14-1 (2017) 9-5 (2016)
Coach Keith Kilmer (11th year, 81-38) all games Friday at 7 p.m. (2019 records in parenthesis)
8-21 at (6A) Crown Point (6-5)
8-28 (6A) Portage (1-9)
9-4 (2A) Wheeler (3-6)
9-11 at (4A) GRIFFITH (3-8)
9-18 (4A) HOBART (1-3)
9-25 (4A) KANKAKEE VALLEY (4-6)
10-2 at (4A) HIGHLAND (4-7)
10-9 (5A) MUNSTER (0-10)
10-16 at (2A) ANDREAN (8-3)

Class 4A Sectional 17
vs. Gary West Side, Griffith, Highland, East Chicago or Hobart (Hammond schools Morton and Gavit are not playing this season due to the COVID-19 virus).

SCHEDULE CHANGES: A major change to this season’s schedule is, obviously, that Morton is not playing Lowell in week three as they have for the last three years. Another big change is the game with Hobart has been moved from week nine to week five while KV, Highland and Munster move up one week. Lowell’s ‘week three’ opponent will be Wheeler, coached by Lowell-alum Adam Hudak. This would be the first-ever meeting of Wheeler and Lowell. I probably don’t have to tell you that everything is tentative this season. We’ll know the games will be played the week of the game and not before.

LOWELL Update:

– Lowell stole come-from-behind wins over Crown Point and Kankakee Valley last year to have a winning season, but I think they’d be disappointed with another 7-5 this time.

The Devils return eight boys who started at one time or another on defense in the 2019 season including linebackers Kyler Newcom (67 tackles, 4 sacks), Spencer Barta (49 tackles), defensive back Reec Ison (3 interceptions, 10 pass breakups) and safety Joe Heuer (35 tackles). Other than Zach Hayden (6-1, 315), who is set to return on the defensive line, Lowell is not a physically large team. But they have good speed among the defenders. They should be tough to score on.

Lowell’s offense is the question, at least to me, because I don’t know who will play in the offensive line. Quarterback Cam
Stojancevich (58 of 118, 793 yards, 8 TDs) is set to return as is backup Johnny Johnson (36 carries, 218 yards), an option runner. Lowell has all the running backs they need in Joe Heuer (68 carries, 412 yards, 9 TDs), Ryan Marx (93 carries, 353 yards, 3 TDs), Adam Bank (59 carries, 263 yards, 3 TDs), Jacob Chandler (87 carries, 444 yards, 8 TDs) and blocking back Ray Ambassi were all underclassmen last year. The Devils can do a lot with formations with these boys and they could be very difficult to defend if the offensive line is strong. Lowell’s line is almost all new and they will be tested in the first two games against 6A teams like CP and Portage.

2019 (6A) Crown Point (6-5)
5-7 (2018), 7-5 (2017), 6-6 (2016), 1-9 (2015)
Coach Kevin Enright (8 years) 46-41
8-23 (L) 19-21 at (4A) Lowell (7-5)
8-30 (W) 24-0 (4A) Highland (3-6)
9-6 (L) 24-27 (OT) (6A) MERRILLVILLE (11-2)
9-13 (W) 10-0 at (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (3-6)
9-20 (W) 22-16 at (6A) PORTAGE (1-8)
9-27 (L) 14-31 (5A) VALPARAISO (13-1)
10-4 (W) 21-10 (5A) LaPORTE (3-7)
10-11 (L) 14-27 at (6A) CHESTERTON (6-4)
10-18 (W) 28-21 (5A) MICH. CITY (4-6)

6A Sectional 1
11-1 (W) 22-7 at Lake Central (3-7)
11-8 (L) 9-10 vs. Merrillville (11-2)

2020 (6A) Crown Point (0-0)
6-5 (2019), 5-7 (2018) 7-5 (2017) 6-6 (2016)
Coach Kevin Enright (9th year) 47-42...all games Friday at 7 p.m. (2019 records in parenthesis)
8-21 (4A) Lowell (7-5)
8-28 at (4A) Highland (3-6)
9-4 at (6A) MERRILLVILLE (11-2)
9-11 (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (3-6)
9-18 (6A) PORTAGE (1-8)
9-25 at (5A) VALPARAISO (13-1)
10-2 at (5A) LaPORTE (3-7)
10-9 (6A) CHESTERTON (6-4)
10-16 at (5A) MICH. CITY (4-6)

6A Sectional 1
Vs. (Lafayette) Jefferson, Merrillville or Lake Central.

SCHEDULE CHANGES: I’m not sure if this is the final year for Jefferson in Sectional 1. I would think that the consolidation of 3A Hammond (807 teenagers) and 4A Morton (1,279 students) with 4A Gavit (885 kids) and 3A Clark (752 kids) into just two schools would create at least one 6A school which would bump Jefferson possibly to Sectional 4.

But math is not my strongest subject and the bigger and better Morton and the brand new Hammond Central (if that is the name) could both be Class 5A, too. The 2020 enrollment numbers could be misleading because there may be teenagers in Hammond attending out of town schools who would return to attend a brand new school next fall.


Crown Point - There is reason to be optimistic about the 2020 Crown Point Bulldogs starting with senior quarterback Will Petit (137 of 285, 1,766 yards, 14 TDs, 17 interceptions) and halfbacks Matt Walters (141 carries, 707 yards, 10 TDs) and Davian Lira (110 carries, 417 yards).

The offensive line includes senior guard Alex O Toole (5-11, 240) and junior tackle Jack Darlington (6-4, 250) who will be joined by new center Nick Cicero (6-1, 245) and sophomores Jack Ruess (6-3, 265) and Logan Pokropinski (6-1, 255). Tight end Felix Meeks (6-2, 250) figures to be a key man in both the run and pass games. Pettit will have new receivers in junior Logan Treston (6-2, 180) and sophomore J.J. Johnson (5-10, 160).

Throw in quality kicker Sammy Brewer (5 field goals in 2019) and this looks like a good offense eventually. But CP plays Lowell in week one and powerful rival Merrillville in week three.

Crown Point's defense will be led by linebackers Reilly Granger (6-0, 210) and Jacob Lopez (5-10, 190) who were in on a combined 171 tackles last fall. Nose guard Nikola Paic (6-1, 280) will be key in his starting debut season. CP plays a 3-5-3 defense and the front three: Paic, and seniors Kyle Milly 6-1, 220) and Adrian Barrera (6-1, 230) have to hold up against powerful offensive lines from Valparaiso and Merrillville.

The three man secondary of Brandon Bruice (5-7, 140), Tanner Hekkel (5-7, 155) and Brett Croell (5-8, 155) will be reminded this week that Lowell zapped the Bulldogs for three TD passes last August in a 21-19 Red Devil win. Sammy Brewer takes over as the Bulldogs’ new punter and I would bet he’ll do well.

The Merrillville game in week three and the Valparaiso game in week six are the big hills to climb for CP, but Lowell had topped CP in each of the last three years. CP seniors have never beaten Lowell at the varsity level. The Bulldogs only have four home games this year and, in truth, I can't promise you those four will be played.

Crown Point needs to beat Lowell Friday. It’s a big deal.

LOWELL (7-5) at CROWN POINT (6-5)

Bulldog Turf: capacity 4,800




Sagarin ratings truthfully can't be used before the season begins because they are computer ratings based on last year’s results. And I don’t think I need to say again that things have changed since last year. But for the record, at the end of last season, even though Lowell defeated CP 21-19 in August, in November CP would have been an 11-point favorite over the Devils.



CROWN POINT (08-21-2020) You know I don’t know what will happen. Lowell and Merrillville wisely, in my opinion, did not hold a scrimmage. But that leaves no hints of what the Devils will do Friday.

Good defenses facing new offensive lines usually means a low-scoring game, but both teams return quarterbacks and running backs.
I’m consistently surprised by how well Lowell plays against Crown Point, but not this time. I’m looking for CP to wear down the smaller Devils in a conservatively played game. Lowell will have a good year, but the good times won't begin until week two.

Crown Point seniors have never beaten Lowell. Until Friday.


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Revised: August 21, 2020 .