Week 12 - Football Game of the Week Preview

Crown Point (5-5)
at Merrillville (5-5)

Merrillville has not won the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) the last two seasons but they have won found a way to win the last two Class 6A sectional championships. The Pirates try to make in three in a row Friday night against Crown Point. (Photo by Mark Smith)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


When:  7:00 p.m., Friday, Nov. 4, 2016

Where:  Merrillville High School's Demaree Stadium, 276 E. 68th Place, Merrillville, IN 46410 (2 blocks east of Broadway on 68th Place).

TV/Radio/Internet: No over-the-air radio. Live Internet audio stream on www.USA-365.com.

Enrollment: CROWN POINT - 2,664; MERRILLVILLE - 2,228.

WEATHER: Still good. Low 60s during the day Friday and mid-50s after dark. No rain is expected and any winds will be light. Weather should have no effect on the game and it will only be slightly cool for those who will be watching. It'll be a good night and long range weather suggests that Nov. 11 will be good as well.

PARKING: Lake Central did not bring a large crowd to Crown Point last week and I'm wondering how many CP folks will go to nearby Merrillville. I think that some friends and fans who show up at home games just don't go to any road games, especially after the regular season ends. Some buy 'season pass' tickets which end with the regular season. Maybe some just like home games where they are familiar with parking, concessions, where to sit. Sometimes it's the weather or the overall prospects of the team going forward. I honestly do not know. But attendance sometimes drops off in the first couple of sectional weeks. Both Merrillville and Crown Point have .500 teams. I'm curious to see how many will come out on a good weather night to watch the Pirates and Bulldogs actually play for something.


WHAT's AT STAKE: This is the sectional championship game and there's only 16 teams left for the 6A state championship. Look at how many are from the Indianapolis area. Warren Central, Southport, Cathedral and Lawrence Central are Indy city schools and Fishers, Carmel, Center Grove and Avon are suburban Indy schools.

Warren Central and Southport are in the southern half of the state tournament bracket because there just aren't very many large 6A schools south of the Indianapolis suburbs. That's how we have, in the past, gotten two Indianapolis area schools playing for the state championship.

But we have two 5-5 teams on the field this Friday and I'm not sure either side is convinced they're going to win the state championship. So that makes this game the 'Super Bowl'. Especially for the seniors on both sides. How much do they want to say they won the sectional championship their senior year? How much do they still believe they can win this game?


Class 6A Sectional final games
SECTIONAL TWO (2) No. 2 Penn (10-0) at No. 8 LaPorte (9-1) 6:30 CST
SECTIONAL THREE (3) No. 11 Homestead (8-2) at Warsaw (6-4)
SECTIONAL FOUR (4) Fishers (4-6) at No. 7 Carmel (6-4)
SECTIONAL FIVE (5) Avon (6-4) at No. 4 (Indianapolis) Ben Davis (7-3)
SECTIONAL SIX (6) No. 12 Lawrence Central (6-4) at No. 10 (Indianapolis) Cathedral (6-4)
SECTIONAL SEVEN (7) No. 1 Warren Central (9-1) at Southport (6-4)
SECTIONAL EIGHT (8) No. 3 Center Grove (9-1) at No. 6 Columbus North (9-1)


The 'Distant' Replay


Team 1 2 3 4 F
CROWN POINT (1-2) 14 7 7 0 28
MERRILLVILLE (2-1) 0 13 8 20 41

Friday, September 2, 2016 -  70 degrees in MERRILLVILLE, IN

1st Qtr: CROWN POINT (7-0) Zach Stewart, 55-yard interception return. Ben Fridrich kick. 10:24 left.

CROWN POINT (14-0) Tyler Gomez, 48-yard run. 55-yard drive, 2 plays. Ben Fridrich kick. 8:24 left.
2nd Qtr: MERRILLVILLE (14-6) Davion Ervin-Poindexter, 7-yard run. 2-point run failed. 11:01 left.
James Kirklen, 27-yard pass from Cam Wright. 61-yard drive, 3 plays. Meagan Wise kick. 8:12 left.
Shane McCormack, 55-yard pass from Grayson Lynk. Ben Fridrich kick. 6:23

3rd Qtr: MERRILLVILLE (21-21) James Kirklen, 18-yard pass from Cam Wright. 2-point pass Cam Wright to Kam Jackson. 3:35 left.
Zach Stewart, 75-yard interception return. Ben Fridrich kick. 3:21 left.

4th Qtr: MERRILLVILLE (28-28) Kaylin Brookshire, 15-yard pass from Cam Wright. 60-yard drive, 7 plays. Meagan Wise kick. 11:48 left.
MERRILLVILLE (28-35) James Kirklen (5th TD of the season), 59-yard pass-run from Cam Wright (7th TD pass of
the season). 60-yard drive, 2 plays. Meagan Wise kick. 9:34 left.
MERRILLVILLE (28-41) Davion Ervin-Poindexter, 3-yard run. 25-yard drive, 3 plays. 1:43 left.



CROWN POINT (36 carries, 155 yards, one TD, one fumble) Tyler Gomez (HB) 30 carries, 130 yards, TD, fumble, Grayson Lynk (QB) 6 carries, 25 yards (1 sack, minus-10);
MERRILLVILLE (32 carries, 108 yards, 2 TDs, no fumbles) Davion Ervin Poindexter (HB) 23 carries, 91 yards, 2 TDs; Kam Jackson (QB-WR) 2-8 yards, Kejaun Thomas (FB) 1-6 yards, Kaylin Brookshire (WR) 1-7 yards, Cam Wright (QB) 5 carries (minus-4 yards) 2 sacks: minus-17 yards.

CROWN POINT : Grayson Lynk (QB) 10 for 26, 146 yards TDs, one interception.
MERRILLVILLE: Cam Wright (QB) 14 of 33, 276 yards, 3 TDs, 4 interceptions. Kam Jackson (QB-WR) 0-for-1.

CROWN POINT: Tyler Jones (WR) 1 catches 22 yards, Griffin Govert (FB) 2-10 yards, Shane McCormack (WR) 3-68 yards, TD, Ben Fridrich (TE) 1-15 yards, Tyler Gomez (HB) 1-18 yards, Mark Knox (WR) 3-18 yards.
MERRILLVILLE: Davion Ervin-Poindexter (HB) 3-18 yards, Kaylin Brookshire (WR) 3-29 yards, TD, Kejuan Thomas (FB) 2-43 yards, James Kirklen (WR) 6-186 yards, 3 TDs.

CROWN POINT: 301 yards, 10 first downs, 4 turnovers (3 fumbles).
MERRILLVILLE: 384 yards, 15 first downs, 4 turnovers (3 interceptions).


Zach Stewart (CP) 3, Steve McDaniel (CP), Sean Roche (MV).

Fumble recoveries:

Ramon Harris (MV), Anthony Swims (MV), Anthony Sams (MV).


MERRILLVILLE: This 'not so distant' replay is of the Labor day weekend matchup of these two schools, one of the most spectacular games in recent years. After Merrillville matched Crown Point's quick start, CP took the 8-point halftime lead on a perfect pass from Grayson Lynk to Shane McCormick down the visitors' sidelines. A fumbled punt set up the Pirates to tie the game 21-21 on the first Cam Wright to James Kirklen TD and a Pirate interception by Sean Roche gave the home team a chance to take the lead. But Zach Stewart intercepted a long pass from Wright late in the third quarter and made a memorable weaving 75-yard run across the field for his second TD that gave CP a 28-21 lead going to the fourth quarter.

But the Pirates mounted a fourth quarter rally where Cam Wright completed 3-of-3 for 75 yards and two TDs and Davion Ervin-Poindexter ran nine times for 49 yards and the final TD. It was the third rally for the Pirates on the night and Merrillville won going away.

Cam Wright suffered a shoulder injury a couple of weeks later and he's out for Friday's game. CP's Grayson Lynk also will not play. Both teams suffered three-game losing streaks in September, but bounced back to win the season finale and the playoff opener. The rematch this week will not resemble the game 10 weeks ago and, if you don't care who wins, that's too bad.

Merrillville (5-5)
7-5 (2015), 6-6 (2014), 9-2 (2013), 11-3 (2012)
coach Brad Seiss (12-10) 2nd year - DAC games in CAPS
Aug. 19 (W) 35-7 Andrean (5-6)
Aug. 26 (L) 2-35 Penn (10-0)
Sept. 2 (W) 41-28 CROWN POINT (5-5)
Sept. 9 (W) 20-14 PORTAGE (6-5)
Sept. 16 (L) 35-42 MICH. CITY (7-3)
Sept. 23 (L) 35-46 at LaPORTE (9-1)
Sept. 30 (L) 15-20 VALPO (5-5)
Oct. 7 (L) 7-23 LAKE CENTRAL (4-6)
Oct. 14 (W) 34-13 CHESTERTON (2-8)

6A Sectional 1

Oct. 28 (W) 22-21 at Portage (6-5)
Nov. 4 (Friday) Crown Point (5-5)



- What jumps out at you on Merrillville's statistics page is that they've allowed more points (24.9 per game) than they have scored (24.0 per game). But the Portage team that upset LaPorte (9-1) and Lowell (7-3), lost twice to Merrillville. A couple of notes. The Pirates have not attempted a field goal this fall and their place kicker is girl soccer captain Meagan Wise, who is 26 of 28 on extra points. Wide receiver James Kirklen has caught 28 passes for 512 yards, but that's misleading because he missed at least two games with an injury. I do not know that starting QB Cam Wright is unavailable, but he missed the last three regular season games and, even with the bye week, Wright did not play on Oct. 28 in the 22-21 win over Portage. Merrillville has won this sectional the last two years and lost to Penn at the regional level. Two years ago, the Pirates defeated CP 45-42 and topped Lake Central 21-19.

WR-LB-QB Kameron Jackson (6-4, 191) Senior:
Kam Jackson is the second most important player in Friday's game. Since starting QB Cam Wright (90 of 162, 1,340 yards, 11 TDs, 9 interceptions) was hurt in September, Jackson (26 of 60, 434 yards, 4 TDs, 4 interceptions) has moved in at QB with increasing success. Jackson has also run 55 times for 215 yards and three TDs. Earlier this year, he caught 13 passes for 135 yards. Kam also kicks off and punts (49 times) for a 31.3 yard average. Kameron Jackson will be a major reason if Merrillville wins Friday.

RB - Davion Ervin Poindexter (5-10, 180) Junior:
Poindexter has been a major factor all year, but even more so now with Cam Wright out. The junior has carried 213 times for 1,039 yards and 14 touchdowns, two of them in the earlier game against Crown Point. Poindexter doesn't dance around much. He is a straight ahead runner who can break tackles. DEP is going to get the ball 15-20 times Friday.

OLB - Anthony Sams (5-11, 209) Senior:
Anthony Sams is one of the leaders on a small, fast Pirate defense. Sams has been in on 56 tackles and has made 10 tackles for losses. Anthony also has three quarterback sacks for 23 yards in losses. Sams, Alfred Stubbs (6-0, 228), top tackler Moses Johnson Junior (5-7, 173), and Branden Bramson (5-7, 165) all have 10 tackles for losses and at least 50 stops. The Pirates do the 'bend but don't break' thing. You can run on them. But it's hard to run wide with players like Anthony Sams.

1-9 (2015), 8-2 (2014), 6-4 (2013), 8-4 (2012)
coach Kevin Enright (28-24) 5th year - DAC games in CAPS

Aug. 19 (W) 9-3 (OT) Lowell (7-4)
Aug. 26 (L) 6-10 at Mishawaka (9-2)
Sept. 2 (L) 28-41 at MERRILLVILLE (5-5)
Sept. 9 (W) 17-3 LAKE CENTRAL (4-6)
Sept. 16 (L) 3-7 PORTAGE (6-5)
Sept. 23 (L) at VALPO (5-5)
Sept. 30 (L) at LaPORTE (9-1)
Oct. 7 (W) 28-0 CHESTERTON (2-8)
Oct. 14 (W) 42-21 at MICH. CITY (7-3)

6A Sectional 1

Oct. 28 (W) 10-6 Lake Central (4-6)
Nov. 4 (Friday) at Merrillville (5-5) 7 p.m.


- Crown Point's best feature is the defense, which has allowed just 146 points and only 87 first downs in 10 games. CP has allowed just 66 pass completions in 178 attempts (37%) and the Bulldogs have given up 3.7 yards per rush. CP scored 86 points in their first seven games and 80 points in their last three games. This is the sixth meeting of Crown Point and Merrillville in the last three years and the Bulldogs are 1-4 so far. The Bulldogs' last sectional championship game was a 24-14 loss at Merrillville on November 2, 2012. Junior QB Ryan Bolda was 5-for-21 in his first varsity start, but he carried eight times for 35 yards. The 21 pass attempts in a playoff game indicates that Crown Point has confidence in Bolda throwing the football.

DB - Zach Stewart (5-10, 160) Senior:
Zach Stewart has had an outstanding season with six interceptions and a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown as the highlights. Zach has been in on 45 tackles and he's run two interceptions back for TDs. Friday, he'll see a lot of James Kirklen, Merrillville's top receiver. The Pirates use three receivers on every play, but Kirklen is the one who scored two TDs against CP back in September. Merrillville runs the ball more now than they did then, but there will still be a moment when they challenge Zach Stewart and the CP secondary.

WR - Shane McCormack (6-6, 195) Senior:
The surprise last week was to see Shane McCormick playing defensive back against Lake Central. I had not seen that before. But this week, if the Bulldogs are going to win, Shane's going to be catching passes. McCormick has caught 29 this season for 498 yards and three TDs and new QB Ryan Bolda will be looking for McCormick sooner or later Friday night at Merrillville.

LB - Caden Watson (5-11, 185) Junior:
Caden Watson has been in on 113 tackles this season, including 76 solo tackles. The junior has had three quarterback sacks, one fumble recovery, two blocked kicks and 12 tackles for losses in 10 games. But the CP linebacker group will be tested Friday night as Merrillville is not the passing team CP saw in September. This rematch will come down to whether the Pirates can move the ball on the ground and stopping the run is something Caden Watson has been fairly good at.


at Demaree Stadium - Capacity: 8,000 in Merrillville



MERRILLVILLE - Anything less than three points is virtually an even game. I thought Merrillville would be favored because they played Penn and CP hasn't. The computer disagrees. Maybe the Crown Point schedule, rated 22nd strongest in the state, gives them a tiny edge over Merrillville's 26th ranked schedule.



MERRILLVILLE (11-04-2016) Whenever I suggest that a Crown Point game is going to be high scoring, it isn't. I know that Merrillville scored 41 points on Crown Point in September. In this Friday's rematch, there won't be a combined 41 points scored by both teams. Both offenses will struggle through a scoreless first half, created by fast defenses and offenses that have been altered with new quarterbacks.

Kameron Jackson will run for the games' first TD in the third quarter, but CP will tie it up on a short run by Tyler Gomez early in the forth quarter. CP will gain ground on an exchange of punts and Ben Fridrich's field goal will give CP their first lead midway in the final period.

A Bulldog pass interception and a late Fridrich field goal will give CP a six-point lead. A second CP interception will allow CP to run out the clock. I know the first matchup was 41-28, but this one just won't get anywhere near that. We've got two defenses that will stop the other side most of the night. CP will get three turnovers and win their first sectional since 2011.



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Revised: November 03, 2016 .