Week 11 - Football Game of the Week Preview

6A Sectional 1 Semifinal:
Portage (4-5)
at Crown Point (3-6)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith
CP punter and lineman Colin Flavin (13) and tight end Ben Uran (16) could be major players Friday night when Crown Point hosts Portage in the Class 6A Sectional 1 semifinals. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When:  Friday, October 26, 2018 - 7 p.m. kick-off.

Where:  Crown Point High School, One mile south of the CP downtown square at 1500 South Main Street, Crown Point, IN 46307.

TV/Radio/Internet:  The only live outlet for this game is the Internet audio stream on www.USA-365.com.


CROWN POINT - 2,805; Portage – 2,512.

Highs in the low-50s during the day Friday and temperatures in the mid-40s after dark. Low winds and low temperatures. Late-season football weather in Northwest Indiana.


PARKING: I don't have a good guess about the crowd on this night. Both teams have had losing seasons, but both teams have reason to believe they’ll win Friday. Sometimes when you have an unscheduled game (one that isn’t on the regular season schedule), fans drift away. We’ll see how many fans of both teams come out for the boys biggest game of the year.


WHAT's AT STAKE: The entire season. Both Portage and CP have lost more than they’ve won, but two wins in the next two weeks makes up for everything. I know the boys were tired after losses in week nine, but the bye week may have lifted some spirits.


Class 6A Sectional 2
Chesterton (3-6) at Valparaiso (7-2)
Warsaw (6-3) at Penn (7-2)

Class 6A Sectional 1
Portage (4-5) at CROWN POINT (3-6)
Merrillville (6-3) at Lake Central (2-7)


SECTIONAL SEMIFINALS: Portage drew the hard road here. If they beat Crown Point, they’d play Merrillville at Merrillville. A Valpo-Penn game would be at Penn.

Merrillville would host either Portage or Crown Point. CP has won the last two 6A Sectional 1 championships, Penn has won the all five (Class 6A began in 2013) Class 6A Sectional 2 championships.


The HISTORY:  Long time local watchers know that Portage was a dominant team in the early 1990s with a 13-1 record in 1994 and a 12-1 mark in 1995 under coach Craig Buzea (107-45, from 1994-2006). The Indians were 81-33 in the 1990s, winning or sharing five DAC championships.

After going 11-2 in 2003 and 8-4 in 2004, football fortunes went downhill. Portage has not won more than six games in any one varsity football season since 2004 and the rise of Michigan City and LaPorte to some varsity football prominence in the last half dozen years only makes the hill tougher to climb.

It's hard to call CP vs. Portage a rivalry, no matter how many times they meet. Portage’s rivals are Chesterton and Valparaiso. But Portage has to feel that here’s a chance to break their losing streak and play for a sectional championship. Portage lost 11-of-14 to Crown Point from 2005 to 2015, but since then, the Indians have won 3-of-4 against CP.

There is a trend of low-scoring games. Portage won 7-3 in 2016 and CP won the sectional championship game in 2017 after Portage won the regular season matchup 27-10. Portage also won this year’s Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) game even though it was nothing to brag about.


Five weeks ago……


Team 1 2 3 4 F
Portage (3-2, 2-1 DAC) 0 0 14 0 14
CROWN POINT (2-3, 1-2 DAC) 6 6 0 0 12

Friday, September 14, 2018,  75 degrees (at kick-off) at CROWN POINT, IN

1st QtrCROWN POINT (6-0) Tysen Cazy, 15-yard pass from Will Pettit. 17-yard drive, 3 plays after Sam Krutz intercepted a pass and returned it 37-yards to the Portage 17-yard line. 1:02 TOP. Kick blocked. 5:08 left.
2nd Qtr: CROWN POINT (9-0) Justin Robinson, 26-yard field goal. (-5)-yard drive, 4 plays after defensive lineman Blake Klingberg recovered a fumble at the Portage 8-yard line. 1:45 min TOP. 6:39 left.
CROWN POINT (12-0) Justin Robinson, 27-yard field goal. 52-yard drive, 5 plays. 0:39 min. TOP. 0:04 left.
3rd Qtr:  PORTAGE (7-12) Scott Hansen, 23-yard pass from Zach Warchus. 45-yard drive, 5 plays. 2:35 min. TOP.
Miguel Verduzco kick. 6:30 left.
PORTAGE (14-12) Josh Warmick, 60-yard return following Isaac Hedgewood's block of CP's 43-yard field goal attempt by Jack Mumaugh.
Miguel Verduzco kick. 4:20 left.
4th Qtr: No scoring.

PORTAGE (28 carries, 35 yards, fumble):
Michael McGregor (FB) 9-31 yards; Jalen Smith (RB) 9-22 yards; Trey Sebben (RB) 1-(-5) yards; Zach Warchus (QB) 9-(-13, including 4 sacks for -28 yards) yards.

CROWN POINT (12 carries, 38 yards):
Scott Mills (TB) 10-26 yards; Will Pettit (QB) 1-5 yards; Matthew Walters (RB) 1-7 yards.

Portage: Zach Warchus (QB) 4 of 12, 77 yards, TD, INT.
CP: Will Pettit (QB) 18 of 32, 206 yards, TD, 2 INTs.

PORTAGE: Michael McGregor (FB) 1-31 yards, TD; Jalen Smith (RB) 1-14 yards; Scott Hansen (RB) 1-23 yards, TD; Tylee Swopes (RB/QB) 1-9 yards.
CP: Ben Uran (TE) 4-49 yards; Tysen Cazy (WR) 4-50 yards, TD; David O'Toole (WR) 6-103 yards; Anthony Gonzalez (WR) 1-0 yards; Scott Mills (TB) 2-0 yards; Felix Meeks (TE) 1-4 yards.

PORTAGE: 112 yards, 6 first downs.
CP: 244 yards, 6 first downs.

CP: 12-65 yards; Portage: 6-50 yards.

CP: 2 interceptions, 0 fumble, kick blocked & returned for TD.
PORTAGE: 1 interception, 1 fumble.

CROWN POINT (9-15-2018) In a year when Crown Point has been beaten 38-7 and 48-0, this was probably the Bulldogs' worst loss of the season. CP held Portage to 112 yards and just six first downs, led 12-0 midway through the third quarter and still lost.

Both teams punted seven times, but Portage completed only four passes and gained 35 yards rushing. The Bulldogs probably still couldn't tell you why they they lost. The only good side to this from a playoff perspective, if you are CP, is that your team probably wants to draw an opponent that they ‘should have’ beaten in the regular season matchup.

(6A) Portage (4-5)
5-6 (2017), 6-4 (2016), 1-10 (2015), 1-9 (2014)
Coach Darren Rodriguez (15-15) 3rd year / DAC games in CAPS
8-17 (L) 14-35 at (4A) Mishawaka (8-1)
8-24 (W) 7-3 at (4A) Lowell (7-2)
8-31 (W) 18-10 (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (2-7)
9-7 (L) 0-39 (6A) MERRILLVILLE (6-3)
9-14 (W) 14-12 at (6A) CROWN POINT (3-6)
9-21 (W) 20-14 at (6A) CHESTERTON (3-6)
9-28 (L) 14-49 (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (7-2)
10-5 (L) 7-17 at (6A) VALPARAISO (7-2)
10-12 (L) 19-22 (5A) LaPORTE (3-6)

Class 6A Sectional 1

10-29 (Fri) vs. Crown Point (3-6)
11-2 (Fri.) at Merrillville (7-3)



Portage played a tough schedule. Five teams with records of 6-3 or better. The week two win over Lowell is impressive until you find out that was Lowell’s first game without their starting QB, who was injured in week one. Like CP, Portage just could not create a consistent offense. Scoring just 114 points all season, it’s a minor miracle they won as many as four games.

Junior QB Zach Warchus (6-0, 165) has had a rough year. After seven games, he was 28 of 73 passing for 420 yards and he had run 106 times for 284 yards. His best receivers are junior Trevor Smaw (6-2, 165) slot receiver Scott Hansen (5-8, 145).

Warchus threw a 37-yard TD to Trey Sebben in his last start, a 22-19 loss at LaPorte. He was 8-of-13 against the Slicers and ran 12 times for 139 yards rushing and a TD. The Indians don’t have a top flight running back. No back has more than 300 yards rushing. Most plays are run or passes by Warchus. The Indians use four wide receivers a lot (no tight end) and a favorite formation has three on one side of the field and Smaw on the other side.

Defensively, Portage is strong. Only Michigan City and Mishawaka rolled up good yardage on them. The Portage defense allowed 351 yards on 57 carries including 217 yards on 27 carries to Mishawaka halfback Chris Harness (5-7, 175).

But when the Indians have given up yardage, it may have been because the offense couldn't move the ball and the defense spent too much time on the field. This defense can stop people.
Linebackers Jordan Warner (6-2, 170) and Teangelo Rayner (5-10, 205) are two year starters. Corner Josh Warmick (6-0, 165) and Scott Hansen at safety have been strong. Rayner had 57 tackles after seven games.

Portage looks like they’re in a 5-2-4 a lot of the time (they stacked the line vs. LaPorte) against most teams. But when playing someone for the fourth time in two years and you have a week to prepare, you may change some things.

(6A) Crown Point (3-6)
7-5 (2017) 6-6 (2016), 1-9 (2015), 8-2 (2014)
Coach Kevin Enright (7th year) 39-36

8-17 (L) 7-17 (4A) Lowell (7-2)
8-24 (W) 14-10 at (4A) Highland (4-6)
8-31 (L) 21-26 at (6A) MERRILLVILLE (6-3)
9-7 (W) 21-3 (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (2-7)
9-14 (L) (6A) 12-14 (6A) PORTAGE (4-5)
9-21 (L) 7-38 at (6A) VALPARAISO (7-2)
9-28 (W) 24-21 at (5A) LaPORTE (3-6)
10-6 (L) 14-17 (6A) CHESTERTON (3-6)
10-13 (L) 0-48 at (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (7-2)

6A State tournament
10-27 (Fri) vs. Portage (4-5)
11-2 (Fri) at Merrillville (7-3)




CROWN POINT – Crown Point has to have a long memory this Friday. The Bulldogs have had some bad losses, but the seniors especially know that in 2016 and 2017, Crown Point forgot about the regular season and won back-to-back playoff rematches to win consecutive sectional championships.

I don’t know if the CP defense has Blake Klingberg (5-10, 320) available. The senior noseguard did not play against Michigan City two weeks ago. Klingberg made eight tackles in the earlier meeting with Portage and he would be missed if he is ‘out’ this Friday. The Bulldogs allowed just 1,210 yards rushing on 310 carries (3.9 per carry) during the nine-game regular season, but just 63 of 142 passes completed for 931 yards.

They are led by senior linebacker Ethan Potosky (91 tackles), Adam Hillard (90 tackles), and Trevor Bieszcat (64 tackles). Safety Sam Krutz has 61 tackles and two interceptions.

CP, like Portage, has had problems on offense.

Sophomore quarterback Will Pettit (6-3, 185) is 92 of 203 for 847 yards, but he has thrown 12 interceptions. One of his better games was against Portage when he 19 of 38 for 206 yards. Portage will be the first team that the CP rookie QB is seeing for a second time. Receiver Tysen Cazy caught five passes against Portage back in September for 57 yards and a TD.

Halfback Scott Mills had just 10 carries against Portage the first time. Mills has 742 yards and nine TDs on 202 carries for the season and he figures to be a bigger factor this Friday. Mills gained 195 yards (28 carries) in week seven at LaPorte and 147 yards (27 carries) in week eight against Chesterton.

It's my belief that at all levels of football, the unit that a week off helps more than any other is the offensive line. We may see that in effect this Friday if the Bulldog passing attack is as effective as it was in September.

But the Bulldogs are going to have to throw well and avoid turnovers (CP has 17 turnovers in nine games) to advance to the sectional championship game on Nov 2.

PORTAGE (4-5) at CROWN POINT (3-6)

Crown Point Bulldogs Stadium: capacity 4,800


SAGARIN RATINGS: Portage by 2.

This spread is about right. Not only did Portage win the earlier meting 14-12, but the losses are largely to the same teams. Portage did defeat Lowell, a team that topped Crown point 17-7. But that’s balanced by CP’s 24-21 victory over LaPorte, a team that beat Portage 22-19. Similar scores. Similar type games. Not much to choose from here at all. For the record, the computer picked Michigan City to beat Crown Point by 32 in the Bulldogs last game on October 12. MC won 48-0.



CROWN POINT (10-26-2018)
Crown Point will start fast at home and the Bulldogs will take a 7-0 lead early after a long drive on a short pass from Will Pettit to Scott Mills. CP ups the lead to 14-0 on Pettit’s second TD toss, this one to Ben Uran.

The Indians rally on a TD run from halfback Jalen Smith in the third quarter and Zach Warchus will lead a scoring drive that ends in a field goal by junior Miguel Verduzco. But the Bulldogs will get a couple of defensive stops and pick up a late field goal from senior Jack Mumaugh.

Michigan City’s Bryce Hayman was 23 of 29 for 350 yards against Portage three weeks ago. Will Pettit was 14 of 28 against Portage in September. The Bulldogs’ passing attack will be the difference in another low-scoring, close game.

On a dry, windless night at home, after a week off, CP will get an early lead and hold on to advance to the sectional title game for the third consecutive season.

CROWN POINT 17, Portage 10

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Revised: October 25, 2018 .