Week 11 - Football Game of the Week Preview

6A Lake Central (4-5) at 
6A Crown Point (4-5)
Sectional 1 Semifinal

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


There should be a good crowd at Crown Point high school Friday as the Bulldogs host Lake Central in the Class 6A Sectional semifinals. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When: Friday, October 28, 2016;  Kick-off:  7:00 p.m.

Where: Crown Point High School - 1500 S. Main (one mile south of the downtown square), Crown Point, Ind.


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 - 2,664; LAKE CENTRAL - 3,196.

WEATHER: Looks good. After a cold week, the temperature is supposed to rise into the mid-60s Friday and kickoff after dark should occur in 60-degree conditions. There's only four outdoor weeks left so to get one like this is something to be thankful for. No rain is predicted. Fairly high winds, though. Maybe 15-25 miles an hour.


PARKING: I'd be surprised if this game did not draw a big crowd with the two big school neighbor rivals. This is the closest home game for Lake Central and with the Indians having won three in a row, that should help. Many times on holiday weekends, football crowds are down. But on Halloween weekend, students tend to come out to the football game dressed oddly. Or, at least, more oddly than usual. With the local matchup, the Halloween atmosphere and the relatively warm weather, there should be a near capacity crowd at CPHS this Friday.


WHAT's AT STAKE: The chance to play for the Sectional championship Friday night, November 4. If Lake Central wins Friday, they will either host Portage or travel to Merrillville. If Crown Point wins, they will play for the sectional title on the road at either Portage or Merrillville.

In 6A Sectional 2 (which matches up with Sectional 1 at the regional level) if 6A No. 2 Penn is to face 6A No. 8 LaPorte for the sectional championship, the game will be at Penn.

Class 6A Sectional 1 = Oct. 28 - semifinals
Lake Central (4-5) at CROWN POINT (4-5)
MERRILLVILLE (4-5) at Portage (6-3)

Class 6A Sectional 2 = Oct. 28 - semifinals
6A No. 4 LaPorte (8-1) at Chesterton (2-7)
6A No. 15 Valparaiso (5-4) at 6A No. 2 Penn (9-0)

If you have a solid idea of who will win the semifinals in Class 6A Sectional 1, give me a call. I believe that Merrillville QB Cam Wright (90 of 162, 1,340 yards, 11 TDs) is injured an unavailable. But, hey, I thought Kyle Schwarber was unavailable for the Cubs.

The Pirates have had two weeks to plan strategy against Portage option QB Anthony Maceo (210 caries, 1,269 yards, 14 TDs) and I won't guarantee you that top tackler Moses Johnson (103 tackles) and the Merrillville defense can't do some thing the slow him down. I don't know if Valpo quarterback Jake Leffew (105 of 177, 1,236 yards, 8 TDs) is okay. He left the season finale against Lake Central with an undisclosed injury. But all injuries have to be factored into the context of a two-week break. The bye week is a big factor in 6A Sectionals 1 and 2.


The 'Distant' Replay
Bulldogs' Defense holds LC to FG, CP wins 17-3 in rain







Lake Central (1-3)












Friday, September 9, 2016 -  70 degrees and steady rain showers at CROWN POINT, IN

1st QtrNo scoring.
2nd Qtr: CROWN POINT (7-0) Griff Govert, 1-yard run. (80-yard drive, 17 plays) Ben Fridrich kick. 11:56 left.

3rd Qtr: LAKE CENTRAL (7-3) Cole Rainwater, 27-yard field goal. 8:07 left.

4th Qtr: CROWN POINT (10-3) Ben Fridrich, 31-yard field goal. 55 yards drive, 7 plays. 9:09 left.
CROWN POINT (17-3) Tyler Gomez, 18-yard run. 42 yard drive, 5 plays. Ben Fridrich kick. 5:47 left.


LAKE CENTRAL (24 carries, 87 yards, 0 TDs, fumble) Anthony Giles (HB) 19 caries, 86 yards, Zach Bundalo (QB) 1 (minus-8 yards), Quincy Tribble (WR) 1-7 yards;
CROWN POINT (50 caries, 184 yards, 2 TDs, fumble) Tyler Gomez (HB) 39 carries, 133 yards, TD; Griffin Govert (FB) 7 carries, 20 yards, TD; Grayson Lynk (QB) 4 carries, 31 yards.


LAKE CENTRAL: Zach Bundalo (QB) 6 of 11, 46 yards, 0TDs, 1 interception;
CROWN POINT: Grayson Lynk (QB) 4 of 8, 67 yarsd, 0 TDs 0 INTS.


LAKE CENTRAL: Josh Benson (WR) 3 catches, 60 yards; Kyle Paul (WR) 1-5 yards;
CROWN POINT: Tyler Jones (WR) 3 catches 23 yards, Griffin Govert (FB) 2-16 yards, Shane McCormack (WR) 4-323-25 yards, Ben Fridrich (TE) 1-15 yards, Tyler Gomez (HB) 1-10 yards. Leo Radiceski (WR) 1-3 yards.

LAKE CENTRAL: 154 yards, 6 first downs, 3 turnovers;
CROWN POINT: 230 yards, 15 first downs, 1 turnover
Fumble recovery:
Caden Watson (CP), Zach Ramus (CP), Chris Gillespie (LC)
Bailey Miles (CP).


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CROWN POINT: This was a big win for Crown Point coming off a 41-28 loss at Merrillville where the Bulldogs led 14-0 and 28-14. CP handled the rainy conditions (there was a light rain all night) running the ball 50 times and relying on their defense to lock down the LC attack. Playing without receiver Austin Atkins, LC could get the ball to top receiver Josh Benson (41 catches, 788 yards, 8 TDs) just three times. The big numbers in the above box score aren't obvious.

LC threw 11 passes and ran 24 times. They only gained six first downs so they never had the ball long enough to do much of anything. Crown Point was able to have 58 offensive plays, including 39 runs by Tyler Gomez. The Bulldogs were very conservative, playing the conditions perfectly and LC had three turnovers.

Friday's rematch will not be much like this September game. Both teams have been winning. Both teams are relatively healthy. They haven't played for 13 days and it isn't going to rain this time.


Lake Central is probably a lot better than their 4-5 record indicates. But last year they were probably better than their 5-5 record. That's easy to say when a team has winning and losing streaks in the same season. Last year LC lost the season opener 20-19 to Munster, won the next five games and lost the final four. This season, LC won the season opener against Munster, lost the next five games, and now has won the last three: 38-0 over Chesterton, 23-7 at Merrillville and 21-20 at home over Valparaiso. That's losing streaks of four and five games and winning streaks of five and three games. I can't explain the ups and downs and they probably can't either.

Coach Brett St. Gemain left the team in September in the middle of the five-game losing streak (for undisclosed reasons). He has now come back and LC is winning again. LC has lost there games by four points or less this season, but the 17-3 loss at Crown Point obviously was not one of them. The offense has good balance: 1,167 yards passing and 1,838 yards rushing. The losses are to LaPorte (8-1), Michigan City (6-3), Portage (6-3), Lincoln-Way Central (6-3) of New Lenox, Illinois and Crown Point (4-5).

Senior receiver Austin Atkins, the top LC pass catcher last year, was injured in August and has played just five games with 14 catches for 165 yards. But with the bye week for LC and CP, he figures to be ready to go this Friday. Pairing Atkins with Josh Benson (41 catches, 788 yards, eight TDs) will make LC a better offensive team that they were when they came to CP on September 9.

I'm sure other injuries have contributed to the 'two faces of LC' that football watchers have seen the last two years. But if you just look at this month, LC is 2-0. That's probably what Crown Point is focusing on as the playoff game approaches.

QB- Zach Bundalo (6-3, 185) Sophomore:
Zach Bundalo has 87 completions in 180 attempts for 1,152 yards with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. It's been a roller coaster year for Lake Central with a five-game losing streak and a three game win streak. The Bulldogs have nine pass interceptions (Zach Stewart has 6), so a key for Bundalo will be to be safe when he throws the ball.

RB - Anthony Giles (5-10, 190) Senior:
Anthony Giles has gained 1,083 yards and seven TDs on 145 carries. Anthony has gained 100 yards or more five times in nine games. The senior halfback gained 766 yards last season on 132 rushes.
The Bulldogs are well aware of Giles and they know they have to contain him to keep LC from dominating the time of possession.

LB - Jackson Long (6-0, 215) Junior:
Jackson Long leads Lake Central with 101 tackles including 68 solo stops and six quarterback sacks. LC plays what looks like a traditional 4-3 defense and Jackson is the classic middle linebacker. He doesn't have great speed, but he is a solid hitter and run stopper. Long is usually in on a lot of plays and that will be the case again this Friday because CP is going to turn the ball a lot.


Crown Point was also improving as the season came to an end. The Bulldogs probably didn't want a week off after a 28-0 win over Chesterton and the regular season-ending 42-21 win at Michigan City (6-3) on October 14.


QB - Grayson Lynk (6-4, 185) Senior:
Grayson Lynk had his two best games of the season the last two weeks of the regular season. The tall senior was 14 of 20 passing for 211 yards against Chesterton and he then ran 15 times for 172 yards and four touchdowns at Michigan City. When he lines up with Tyler Gomez and runs that college style 'read option,' CP causes problems and opens up some single coverage for wide receivers. For the season, Lynk has 458 yards on 76 carries (6.0 per run) and is 76 of 187 passing for 977 yards. CP scored 86 points total in the Bulldogs' first seven games but has scored 70 points in the last two games. Grayson Lynk's play is a major reason why. CP's defense has had a very strong year. The Bulldogs have allowed just 83 first downs all season in nine games. Against a schedule where four of the teams they've faced (LaPorte, Michigan City, Lowell and Mishawaka) were ranked in the top-10 at one time or another, CP has allowed 2,145 yards, just 238 per game. Only LaPorte (34) and Merrillville (41) have scored more than 21 points against CP. But the Bulldogs have scored more than 21 points only three times.

RB/DB Zach Stewart (5-10, 160) Senior:
Zach Stewart is factor in a lot of things for CP. Two weeks ago, the senior co-captain ran a kickoff back 97 yards for a TD at Michigan City. On September 2 at Merrillville Zach ran two interceptions back for touchdowns. For the year, Stewart has 43 tackles and six interceptions. He'll be part of the 'containment squad' for Crown Point Friday, trying to hold down LC receivers Josh Benson and Austin Atkins. Stewart has run back five kickoffs for a 36.6 average and 11 punts for a 2.2 average. He's an adventure on punt returns. Doesn't like to fair catch punts. Whatever happens Friday night, Zach Stewart will be a big part of it.

LB - Caden Watson (5-11, 185) Junior:
Caden Watson had 12 tackles in the win at Michigan City and he ended the nine-game regular season with 104 total tackles (72 solo tackles) including 12 tackles for losses. Watson and Don Schuch (86 tackles) will be looking for LC's 1,000-yard rusher Anthony Giles. In CP's 17-3 win over Lake Central in September, Caden had six tackles, a quarterback sack and a fumble recovery. The Bulldog defense won't totally stop Giles, but they can hope to contain him as they did the last time the two teams met. If they do, Caden Watson will be one of the reasons why.

at CP Stadium - capacity: 4,800


Sagarin computer ratings:  Lake Central by 1.


CROWN POINT - I can't argue with the spread here. Crown Point and LC both lost to Portage, they both lost to Merrillville and they both lost to Valparaiso and LaPorte. CP had a nonconference loss to Mishawaka (7-2) while LC lost outside the Duneland Athletic Conference to Lincoln-Way Central (6-3). These teams have walked equal paths. For the record, in September, LC was favored by six and CP won by 14. But I don't think anybody's winning by 14 this time. This game is too close to call.

CROWN POINT (10-28-2016) I thought LC 's offense was well suited to take on CP because they could spread the field and make pass plays on the perimeter. Then I saw the game and Lake Central was lucky to score three points. On this night, the wind will play a factor and passing attacks will be erratic and unreliable.

The Bulldogs score first here on a short run by Tyler Gomez after a Zach Stewart interception. LC ties it up as Zach Bundalo finds Josh Benson for a long pass-run TD over the middle. CP gets a halftime lead after Grayson Lynk scores on a scrambling run at the end of a long drive. But Lake Central ties the game in the third quarter after a short drive as Anthony Giles scores to tie the game 14-14.

Another exchange of turnovers will lift the drama here, but late in the fourth quarter, LC opens their first lead on a field goal by Darius Hughes. But CP mounts a late drive and Tyler Gomez scores the game-winning TD in the final two minutes.

There's very little difference between these two teams. But Crown Point will run the ball for 150-200 yards and win it late.

CROWN POINT 21, Lake Central 17

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Revised: October 28, 2016.