Week 3 - Football Game of the Week Preview

6A Crown Point (1-1) at
6A Merrillville (2-0)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


This will be the 13th meeting of CP and Merrillville in the last seven seasons with the Pirates leading the series 46-37-1. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When:  7 p.m., Friday, September 4, 2020

Where:  Merrillville High School, 2 blocks east of 68th and Broadway in Merrillville, IN.

TV/Radio/Internet: No radio or TV.

Enrollment: CROWN POINT - 2,861; Merrillville – 2,097.

I don't totally understand the enrollment shift between these two neighboring schools. According to the IHSAA directory, in 2002, Merrillville had 2,034 students and Crown Point had 1,894 kids. In 1986, Merrillville had 1,482 teenagers and Crown Point had 1,774 students. The growth I get, but the flip-flop of which school is larger I cannot explain.

WEATHER: Better. Game time temperature will be in the low 70s with low humidity and a gentle northwest wind. The first two weeks have felt like they were played inside a clothes drier. Low 80s and high humidity. Hopefully, that’s over for the year. Good times are coming weather-wise. The forecast for September 11 (week 4) is a Friday high in the low 70s and low in the mid-50s.


PARKING: You should buy tickets in advance until further notice at CP and Merrillville, but there’s going to be plenty of room at Merrillville’s Demaree Stadium, which seats about 7,100. Merrillville also has the largest parking lot in the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) so your car can socially distance as well.


THE SITUATION: I think CP got 250 tickets at Highland last week, but Bulldog fans won't fill up the large visitors’ stands at Merrillville. If you are a little shaky on being in a crowd in the Covid-19 season, this night at Merrillville, with a giant stadium and a nice breeze, is the game you should attend.

After two weeks, I feel more confident that football will be played all season with one piece of doubt. This weekend. In ‘virus world’, folks tend to get together over a holiday and whole rooms full of them get sick 10 days later. Hopefully that won't happen. The larger schools have a big advantage in this new world order because teams like CP and Merrillville can easily miss two or three players a week and those of us watching wouldn't even notice.


But Goshen did cancel two games this week because the entire team had to be quarantined.
One note: We are just in ’phase one’ of the Covid-19 year. The next step is basketball (and wrestling) and the indoor aspect of winter sports suggests a major problem. Those of you who follow football and basketball are familiar with the John Harrell web site, which carries all teams schedules in our state. The Crown Point girls basketball schedule is not complete but, as other teams fill in their dates, you and I can get an idea of what it is from the John Harrell site. Let’s just say it would be a shame if this CP girls season was disrupted.

The defending 4A state champion Lawrence North will be at home against Crown Point on November 28 in Indianapolis. The defending 4A regional champion Penn will play at Crown Point on December 5. The defending 2A state champion Linton-Stockton will play Crown Point in the giant New Castle gym on January 9, 2021.

And the schedule is not yet complete.



The 'Distant Replay'...

Merrillville defeats Bulldogs 24-21 in OT,
after amazing back-and-forth contest


Team 1 2 3 4 OT F
MERRILLVILLE (3-0, 1-0 DAC) 0 14 7 13 6 24
CROWN POINT (1-2, 0-1 DAC) 0 6 13 7 3 21

Friday, September 6, 2019 -  65 degrees and North winds at 10-15 mph at kickoff - Duneland Athletic Conference opener at CROWN POINT, Ind.

1st QtrNo Scoring.
2nd Qtr
MERRILLVILLE (7-0) Damian Dixon, 3-yard run. 41-yard drive, 3 plays. 1:59 min. Time of Possession (TOP). Austin Pupek kick. 11:29 left.
CROWN POINT (3-7) Sammy Brewer, 42-yard field goal. 37-yard drive, 7 plays. 4:17 min TOP. 9:27 left.
MERRILLVILLE (14-3) MERRILLVILLE (14-3) Anthony Mitchell, 55-yard interception return. Pupek kick. 3:09 left.
3rd Qtr: MERRILLVILLE (21-3) Armani Glass, 27-yard pass from Aahric Whitehead. 47-yard drive, 4 plays. 1:24 min. TOP. Pupek kick. 7:05 left.
Tysen Cazy, 19-yard pass from Will Pettit. 44-yard drive, 7 plays. 1:10 min. TOP. David O’Toole, 2-point conversion pass from Pettit. 4:46 left.
Sammy Brewer, 43-yard field goal. 15-yard drive, 5 plays. 2:17 TOP. 2:17 left.

4th QtrCROWN POINT (21-21) Tysen Cazy, 6-yard pass from Will Pettit. 73-yard drive, 11 plays. 4:06 min. TOP. Sammy Brewer kick. 7:03 left.

1st Overtime: CROWN POINT (24-21) Sammy Brewer 21-yard field goal.
MERRILLVILLE (27-24) Jeremiah Howard, 16-yard (3rd down) pass from Aahric Whitehead.




MERRILLVILLE (40 carries, 139 yards, one TD): Damian Dixon (HB) 20 carries, 92 yards one TD; Aahric Whitehead (QB) 10 carries (minus 15 yards) 4 sacks (minus-41); Edward Akins (HB) 1 (minus-2 yards); Peter Rodriguez (QB) 9 carries, 64 yards.

CROWN POINT (21 carries, 38 yards): Matthew Walters (HB) 12 carries, 21 yards; Davian Lira (HB) 7-12 yards; Will Pettit (QB) 2-5 yards.


MERRILLVILLE: Aahric Whitehead (QB) 12 of 18, 143 yards, 2 TDs; Peter Rodriguez (QB) 2 of 4, 43 yards.
CROWN POINT: Will Pettit (QB) 14 of 31, 128 yards 2 TDs, 2 INTs.


MERRILLVILLE: Jeremiah (WR) 6-55 yards, one TD; Armani Glass (WR) 4-95 yards, Xzavier Shell (WR) 2-11 yards; Eddie Drake (RB) 1-12 yards; Raleigh Roberson (WR) 1-11 yards.

CROWN POINT: Tysen Cazy (WR) 6 catches, 45 yards, 2 TDs; Felix Meeks (TE) 2-19 yards; Matthew Walters (HB) 1-9 yards; Ben Uran (TE) 2-44 yards; Davian Lira (RB) 1 (minus-3) yards.

MERRILLVILLE: 295 yards, 15 first downs, 2 turnovers (2 interceptions).
CROWN POINT: 166 yards, seven first downs, 2 turnovers (2 interceptions).


Click Here for free MP3 Podcast.

Merrillville overcomes penalties and tough Bulldogs defense
for 10-9 Sectional Championship victory


Team 1 2 3 4 F
MERRILLVILLE (10-1) 7 3 0 0 10
CROWN POINT (6-5) 0 7 2 0 9

Friday, November 8, 2019 -  27 degrees and cloudy - IHSAA Class 6A, Sectional 1 Championship at CROWN POINT, Ind.

1st QtrMERRILLVILLE (7-0) Darius Schultz, 4-yard run. Austin Pupek Kick. 4:28 left.
2nd Qtr
: CP (7-7)
Tysen Cazy, 57-yard pass from Will Pettit. Sammy Brewer kick. 11:01 left.
Austin Pupek, 30 yard field goal. 7:44 left.

3rd Qtr: CROWN POINT (9-10) SAFETY. Ball batted out of the end zone after a sack by CP’s Collin Flavin. 11:00 left.

4th QtrNo Scoring.


MERRILLVILLE (33 carries, 109 yards, one TD): Damian Dixon (HB) 8 carries, 27 yards one TD; Aahric Whitehead (QB) 7 carries, 7 yards; Darius Schultz (HB) 3 carries 11 yards TD; Peter Rodriguez (QB) 18 carries, 64 yards.

CROWN POINT (21 carries, 38 yards):
Matthew Walters (HB) 17 carries, 47 yards); Davian Lira (HB) 7-20 yards; Will Pettit (QB) 6-9 yards; David O’Toole (WR) 3 carries, 1 yard.

MERRILLVILLE: Aahric Whitehead (QB) 3 of 12, 21 yards; Peter Rodriguez (QB) 4 of 6, 64 yards.
CROWN POINT: Will Pettit (QB) 8 of 19, 121 yards one TD, 3 INTs.


MERRILLVILLE: Jeremiah (WR) 2-37 yards; Armani Glass (WR) 3-38 yards, James Mitchell (WR) 1-16 yards.
CROWN POINT: Tysen Cazy (WR) 3 catches, 73 yards, TD; Ben Uran (TE) 4 catches, 43 yards; David O’Toole (WR) 1 catch, 6 yards.


MERRILLVILLE: 202 yards, 10 first downs, 0 turnovers.
CP: 198 yards, 10 downs, 5 turnovers (2 fumbles).


Click Here for free MP3 Podcast.

CROWN POINT – No matter what happens this Friday night, the annual Labor Day Crown Point-Merrillville matchup will not match the drama of the two meetings between these two Lake County border schools in 2019.

In the regular season meeting, Crown Point rallied from 18 points behind to send the game into overtime and take a three-point lead on a field goal by Sammy Brewer. But when it looked like CP would win, Merrillville completed a miraculous play to top receiver Jeremiah Howard to steal the 27-24 win. In the rematch nine weeks later, both teams' offenses were grounded and a third quarter safety created a 10-9 Merrillville lead.

What I remember vividly about that night was that, being in the Central time zone, the CP-Merrillville battle began an hour later than all the other sectional championship games. All the other games had ended and the Bulldogs and Pirates were still playing a one-point game up in Northwest Indiana.

Sammy Brewer’s 42-yard field goal fell just three or four feet short with 4:04 left in the quarter and a pass interception allowed Merrillville to hold on and win by one point.

2020 (6A) Merrillville (2-0)
11-2 (2019), 7-4 (2018), 1-9 (2017) 5-6 (2016)
Coach Brad Seiss (6th year, 33-26) all games Friday at 7 p.m.

8-21 (W) 40-14 (2A) Andrean (1-1)
8-28 (W) 23-7 (4A) Hobart (1-1)

9-4 (6A) CROWN POINT (1-1)
9-11 at (6A) PORTAGE (1-1)
9-18 (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (2-0)
9-25 at (5A) LaPORTE (0-2)
10-2 (6A) VALPARAISO (1-0)
10-9 (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (1-1)
10-16 at (6A) CHESTERTON (2-0)

Class 4A Sectional 17
vs. Jefferson (2-0), Lake Central (1-1) or CROWN POINT (1-1)


SCHEDULE CHANGES: Jeff junior quarterback Brady Preston is 23 of 42 for 287 yards after two games. Jeff senior Thomas Hogan (5-10, 175) has run 54 times for 503 yards (9.2 per carry) and five TDs.


Merrillville may have a once-in a lifetime team because this is a once-in-a-lifetime year. Merrillville has five seniors who started for Morton in 2019. Two players for Morton, end Dierre Kelly and wide receiver-running back-cornerback JoJo Johnson, transferred from Morton to Merrillville last summer and when Morton chose not to play football in July, three other players, senior quarterback Paris Hewlett, wide receiver Marcus Hardy and lineman Phil Gunn (6-3, 305), followed Johnson and Kelly to Merrillville. All five are future college players at some level.

Add wide receiver Armani Glass, a three-year starter, big lineman Kenneth Grant (6-4, 340), a returning starter in the line and running back Lavarion Logan, who has had two 100-yard rushing games so far, and the Pirates have all the players they need.

Kelly had two sacks last week in the 23-7 win at 4A No. 1 Hobart and linebacker Devin Sanders had 11 tackles against the Brickies. Kicker Austin Pupek is also a returning veteran.

Junior quarterback Angel Nelson was 5-of-10 for 85 yards last week but the Pirates don't need to throw a lot. Watch out when Merrillville lines up Jo Jo Johnson and Lavarion Logan in the same backfield. That formation produced two touchdowns last week.

The only problem Merrillville has is that all these new players haven’t had a lot of time to work together.

Crown Point is probably playing the Pirates at the right time because, if we can complete the season, Merrillville will certainly be better by November.

2020 (6A) Crown Point (1-1)
6-5 (2019), 5-7 (2018) 7-5 (2017) 6-6 (2016)
Coach Kevin Enright (9th year) 48-43 ... all games Friday at 7 p.m.

8-21 (4A) Lowell (1-1)
8-28 at (4A) Highland (0-1)
9-4 at (6A) MERRILLVILLE (2-0)
9-11 (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (1-1)
9-18 (6A) PORTAGE (1-1)
9-25 at (5A) VALPARAISO (1-0)
10-2 at (5A) LaPORTE (0-2)
10-9 (6A) CHESTERTON (0-2)
10-16 at (5A) MICH. CITY (2-0)

6A Sectional 1
vs. (Lafayette) Jefferson (2-0), Merrillville (2-0) or Lake Central (1-1)




CROWN POINT - Crown Point’s defense was solid for the second week in a row last week in a 31-0 win over Highland. The Bulldogs got everybody into the game and still held the Trojans off the scoreboard. Linebacker Jacob Lopez (5-10, 190) made four tackles for lost yardage and Shane Schmidt (5-9, 180) made three stops behind the line of scrimmage.

On offense it was good to see Treston Logan (6-2, 180) catch a couple of passes for 36 yards and Sammy Brewer booted a 37-yard field goal.

Obviously, halfback Matthew Walters (5-10, 160) got a big push from the offensive line, collecting a career-high 332 yards on 29 carries. CP ran the ball 41 times and QB Will Pettit only put up 10 passes. The game had to be a confidence-builder for the Bulldogs after the opening 6-0 loss to Lowell, a game Crown Point should have won.

CP traditionally points to this game from the start of pre-season. Not that they don’t care about beating Highland, but the matchups with Merrillville usually dictate their season.


at Merrillville's Demaree Stadium - Capacity: 7,100


SAGARIN RATINGS: Merrillville by 34.

Okay, you knew it was going to be a big number. The Pirates have defeated two Top-10 teams and CP lost 6-0 at home to Lowell. Merrillville is the 4th-ranked team in Class 6A and you don’t even want to think about playing the top three. The Pirates won on the road at 4A No. 1 Hobart last week and don’t hold your breath for the next Hobart loss. Might not be until November. For the record, CP was a nine-point favorite over Highland last week and the Bulldogs won 31-0. Obviously, they aren’t playing Highland this week.



MERRILLVILLE (09-04-2020) Crown Point always seems to put up a good battle against the Pirates, but they seem a little overmatched. CP will load up defensively against the run and the Pirates will find Armani Glass for an early touchdown. The “Wildcat’ formation with Jo Jo Johnson getting the ball will find his way into the end zone and Merrillville will lead 14-3 at the half.

CP strikes back on a pass from Will Pettit to Treston Logan for CP’s first TD, but the Pirates’ new running back Lavarion Logan will find the end zone as Merrillville pulls away. Jo Jo Johnson will score on a pass interception to cap the scoring.


The Bulldogs will have major problems moving the ball on this Pirate defense. The first of two meetings between these two rivals will go to the home team.



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Revised: September 03, 2020 .