Week 10 - Football Game of the Week Preview

6A Merrillville (1-8) at
6A Crown Point (5-4)

Tyler Gomez (42) will need Andrew Keneson (76) and Jacob Keaveney (72) to move out some Merrillville boys in the sectional playoff game Friday at Crown Point. CP and Merrillville will meet Friday night for the fourth time in two seasons. 
(Photo by Mark Smith)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


When:  7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 27, 2017

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

TV/Radio/Internet: Live updates of all local scores all night on WLPR (89.1) FM. Live Internet audio stream on www.USA-365.com.

Enrollment: Merrillville - 2,256; Crown Point - 2,815.

WEATHER: A cold night for the last Friday in October. Daytime temperatures may reach 50 degrees, but with the kickoff well after dark, we're talking about 45 degrees for the start of the game. No rain is in the forecast, but it will be cold for everyone who is not actually in the game.


PARKING: There's not going to be a large visiting crowd at this game. Merrillville has not had a good season. This is a night where you can sit in your car until about 6:50 and then quick step to the stands.


WHAT's AT STAKE: The winner play Portage (4-5) or Lake Central (2-7) the night of November 3 for the Class 6A Sectional 1 championship. Merrillville would be at home against Portage but on the road at LC. If Crown Point defeats Merrillville, they will be on the road on November 3 no matter who it is they play.


Merrillville (1-8)
5-6 (2016), 7-5 (2015), 6-6 (2014), 9-2 (2013)
Coach Brad Seiss (3rd season, 13-19) DAC games in CAPS

8-18 (L) 13-42 (3A) Andrean (7-3)
8-25 (L) 0-7 (6A) Penn (8-1)
9-1 (W) 34-26 at (6A) CROWN POINT (5-4)
9-8 (L) 21-28 at (6A) PORTAGE (4-5)
9-15 (L) 28-56 at (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (6-3)
9-22 (L) 20-42 (5A) LaPORTE (6-3)
9-29 (L) 0-28 at (6A) VALPARAISO (8-1)
10-6 (L) 23-27 at (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (2-7)
10-13 (L) 7-14 at (6A) CHESTERTON (3-6)

6A Sectional 1
10-27 (Fri) at Crown Point (5-4)
11-14 (Fri) at Lake Central or (home) vs. Portage (4-5)

MERRILLVILLE SCHEDULE: Obviously very little went well for the Pirates this year and they didn't find a win in the last two weeks against two of the bottom three teams in the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC). Merrillville was respectable against 6A Top-10 teams Penn and Valpo even though they didn't score against either one. Averaging just 16.2 points per game (last in the DAC) was the biggest issue, although that number is shaded by the shutout losses.



MERRILLVILLE - Six losses in a row is the most for Merrillville since 1960 when the Pirates were 1-7-2. Merrillville football began in 1946 and the Pirates have never lost seven games in a row. This is only the 14th losing season in school history. I'm not sure who's going to play quarterback for the Pirates. When Merrillville won at CP in September junior Cam Wright was the QB. Two weeks ago against Chesterton, sophomore Aahric Whitehead was 12 of 21 for 136 yards. The Pirates did gain 16 first downs and 289 total yards against Chesterton, but they scored just seven points. Wright, the Pirates QB in 2016, was hurt September 22 against LaPorte and I do not believe he has played since then. There are no 'injury reports' in high school, but I think that Whitehead (6-0, 160) will start against Crown Point.

Merrillville has not changed their offense. The Pirates line up with one back and four wide receivers and the QB will run the ball out of the shot gun formation. Usually they have three receivers on one side and one isolated on the other.

The September 1 win at Crown Point still stands as the Pirates' season highlight. Merrillville senior linebacker Anthony Swims changed the game with two interceptions, but Wright, playing on an injured leg, led the Pirate offense, which posted four rushing TDs.


Team 1 2 3 4 F
MERRILLVILLE (1-2, 1-0 DAC) 0 14 7 13 34
CROWN POINT (1-2, 0-1 DAC) 0 6 13 7 26

Friday, September 1, 2017 -  68 degrees at kickoff - Duneland Athletic Conference opener at CROWN POINT, Ind.

1st QtrNo Scoring.
2nd Qtr
MERRILLVILLE (7-0) Anthony Swims, 75-yard interception return. Meagan Wise kick. 11:46 left.
CROWN POINT (7-6) Tyler Gomez, 27-yard run. 65-yard drive, 7 plays. Kick hit the right goal post. 6:49 left.
MERRILLVILE (14-6) Justin Rhodes, 72-yard run. 72-yard drive, 1 play. Meagan Wise kick. 6:21 left.
3rd QtrCROWN POINT (14-12) Ben Fridrich, 31-yard TD pass from Ryan Bolda. 58-yard drive, 5 plays. 2-point run failed. 9:16 left.
MERRILLVILE (21-12) Tray Shawn McMorris, 39-yard run. 82-yard drive, 10 plays. Meagan Wise kick. 5:30 left.
CROWN POINT (21-19) Scott Mills 3-yard run. 65-yard drive, 9 plays. Ben Fridrich kick. 2:26 left.
4th QtrMERRILLVILLE (28-19) Justin Rhodes, 5-yard run. 59-yard drive, 8 plays. Meagan Wise kick. 11:20 left.
MERRILLVILLE (34-19) Cam Wright, 10-yard run. 25-yard drive after interception by Anthony Swims. Kick wide. 8:06 left.
CROWN POINT (34-26) Tyler Gomez, 11-yard run. 65-yard drive, 3 plays. Ben Fridrich kick. 7:02 left.



MERRILLVILLE (21 carries, 184 yards, 4 TDs, one fumble): Cam Wright (QB) 7 carries, 20 yards (one sack minus-9) one TD; Justin Rhodes (HC) 7-110 yards, 2 TDs; Tray Shawn McMorris (HB) 7-54 yards, TD.

CROWN POINT (40 carries, 216 yards, 3 TDs, 0 fumbles):
Tylee Gomez (HB) 31 carries, 169 yards, 2 TDs; Chris Berry (HB) 4-29 yards; Scvot Mills (HB) 2-3 yards, Ryan Bolda (QB) 2-10 yards, Eric Mahaffey 1-5 yards.



MERRILLVILLE: Cam Wright (QB) 7 of 14, 98 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs;
CROWN POINT: Ryan Bolda (QB) 10 of 21 188 yards, one TD, 2 interceptions.

MERRILLVILLE: Tyjohn Lockett (WR) 3-42 yards; Markus Fielder (WR) 2-27 yards, Justin Rhodes (HB) 1-14 yards; Khalid Porter (WR) 1-9 yards.
CROWN POINT: Tyler Jones (WR) 1-30 yards, Ben Fridrich (TE) 1-31 yards, TD; Eric Mahaffey (WR) 4-54 yards, Ben Schoettle (R) 2-72 yards, Tyler Gomez (HB) 1-6 yards. Tim Angel (WR) 1-6 yards.


MERRILLVILLE (2) Anthony Swims (CB) 2.

CROWN POINT (1) Vince Smith (DE) 1

MERRILLVILLE: 262 yards, 11 first downs, 1 turnover;
CROWN POINT: 404 yards, 17 first downs, 2 turnovers.


(6A) Crown Point (5-4)
6-6 (2016), 1-9 (2015), 8-2 (2014), 6-4 (2013)
coach Kevin Enright (6th year) 34-28...all kickoffs at 7 p.m.
Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) league games in CAPS

8-18 (L) 13-27 at (4A) Lowell (9-0)
8-25 (W) 35-6 (4A) Highland (3-6)
9-1 (L) 26-34 (6A) MERRILLVILLE (1-8)
9-8 (W) 45-0 (6A) at LAKE CENTRAL (2-7)
9-15 (L) 10-27 at 6A PORTAGE (4-5)
9-22 (W) 21-6 (6A) VALPARAISO (8-1)
9-29 (W) 37-35 (6A) LaPORTE (6-3)
10-6 (W) 21-7 at (6A) CHESTERTON (3-6)
10-13 (L) 15-17 (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (6-3)

Class 6A Sectional
10-27 (Fri.) Merrillville (1-8)
11-3 (Fri.) at Lake Central (2-7) or Portage (4-5)

CROWN POINT SCHEDULE: Crown Point had an adventurous schedule this season, winning on the final play against LaPorte and losing on the final play against Michigan City. I think the Bulldogs will welcome the bye week to get ready for 6A Sectional 1. Losses to Lowell (9-0) and Michigan City (6-3) were balanced by wins over Valparaiso (8-1) and LaPorte (6-3). CP seems to be 'battle tested' if that matters in a single-elimination playoff. In none of CP's four losses were they decidedly outplayed without a chance to winning. But two of their wins (Valpo and LaPorte) could have gone the other way as well.


CP had some problems containing Michigan City's spread offense (264 totals yards and 15 first downs) which could translate to problems against Merrillville. CP also committed three turnovers against MC and that was unusual. The Bulldogs have just 10 turnovers (6 interceptions and 4 fumbles) all season. Crown Point QB Ryan Bolda (75 of 165, 949 yards, 7 TDs, 6 interceptions) gets another shot at Merrillville, a team he has faced twice already. Bolda was the QB in CP's 6A Sectional championship win over Merrillville in 2016. Tyler Jones had a season-best four catches for 69 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago against Michigan City in CP's final regular season game.

Linebacker Caden Watson posted 16 tackles while Ethan Potosky was credited with 10. Watson has been in on 121 tackles including 77 solo tackles and 16 tackles for losses. Senior halfback Tyler Gomez has gained at least 100 yards eight games in a row and, since he has been averaging 23 carries a game for nine weeks, the 'bye week' probably was helpful to him and the Bulldog offensive line.

1,000-yard Crown Point football running backs 1980 to present:
1. Russell Chick (2007) 294 carries, 1,810 yards
2. Brian Parker (1997) 258 carries, 1,702 yards
3. Cody Bacon (2010) 252 carries, 1,497 yards
4. Jon Sertich (2006) 235 carries, 1,492 yards
5. John Young (1987) 215 carries, 1,480 yards
6. Artie Equihua (2014) 215 carries, 1,374 yards
7. Tyler Gomez (2017) 205 carries, 1,332 yards
8. Geremy Milner (1995) 226 carries, 1,059 yards
9. Donny Keiser (2005) 205 carries, 1,046 yards
10. Tristan Peterson (2012) 220 carries, 1,066 yards
11. Mark Minch (1989) 178 carries, 1,013 yards


at Crown Point Stadium - Capacity: 4,800


SAGARIN RATINGS: Crown Point by 17.

This spread is a little high considering Merrillville's 34-26 win at CP in September. But there are four teams (Valparaiso, LaPorte, Chesterton and Lake Central) who defeated Merrillville and lost to Crown Point. For the record, the computer rated the Michigan City Wolves a 7-point favorite over CP two weeks ago and Michigan City won by two. When CP and Merrillville met in September, CP was a 9-point favorite and the Pirates won by eight.



CROWN POINT (10-27-2017) Without asking anyone, I would guess that Merrillville is the sectional opponent CP wanted to play first. After a slow start, CP will run the ball effectively with Tyler Gomez and Scott Mills. The Bulldogs will score two second quarter TDs and lead 17-0 at the half.

The Pirates will spend the second half throwing short passes and trying to rally. Merrillville will post a couple of TDs after the break to keep it close. A fourth quarter rushing TD ices the win for the home team. Gomez should gain 100 yards again and I look for Mills to have a productive night.

Crown Point lost the first meeting with Merrillville on two pass interceptions and that is unlikely to happen again. The Bulldogs have run the ball on most teams they have faced and I see no reason that stops this Friday night.



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Revised: October 26, 2017 .