Week 12 - Football Game of the Week Preview

Crown Point (6-4) at Portage (5-5),
Class 6A Sectional 1 Championship

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith
Crown Point's Caden Watson (54) was in one 138 tackles last year and he has been involved in 130 tackles this season. Portage's Anthony Maceo rushed for 1,450 yards last year and 1,333 yards this season. Watson and Maceo might get together more than once in the Class 6A Sectional championship game Friday night in Portage. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When:  Friday, November 3, 2017

Where:  Portage High School, 6450 US Hwy. 6, Portage, IN, 46368

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: CP 2,815; PORTAGE 2,555. (In 1986, Portage high school had 2,865 students.)

WEATHER: It will be cold. Not quite as rough as last week, but it's November and it should be cold. It has rained the last two days, but no rain is expected for Friday and the artificial turf at Portage guarantees a good field.

One other note. For some reason, Portage always seems colder than many stadiums to me. It's in a bit of an open air area and Mother Nature can be hard on you.

One of the reasons that football is such a difficult sport is that you are expected to perform in conditions that are actually too hot to play the sport in August and then conditions that are almost too cold for any sport in November. Remember. You are sitting outdoors for two hours in 45-degree weather. If you are not cold at the start of the game, you will be at the end of the game. Dress accordingly.


PARKING: Parking never seems to be an issue here. Portage is a very big school and they have a lot of room for your car. I expect a big home crowd as well. This is a big night for the Indians and the home fans will show up, despite the weather.


WHAT's AT STAKE: Everything. Portage is playing for their ninth sectional football championship and their first since 2003. Crown Point is going for their sixth sectional title and the second in a row. Portage would host Penn or play at Warsaw in the regional championship game on November 10.

If Crown Point wins the sectional title, they will host the regional against either Penn or Warsaw. CP has not played a regional championship game in Crown Point since the Bulldogs defeated East Chicago 22-13 on November 8, 1991.

Class 6A Sectional 1
CROWN POINT (6-4) at Portage (5-5)

Class 6A Sectional 2
No. 4 Penn (9-1) at Warsaw (6-4)

Class 6A Sectional 3
(Allen County) Carroll (7-3) at No. 2
(Fort Wayne) Snider (10-0)

Class 6A Sectional 4
No. 6 (Lafayette) Jefferson (10-0) at No. 10
Carmel (6-4)

Class 6A - NORTH: There's no easy way out of here. Snider and hard running halfback Chris Covington (107 carries for 853 yards, 16 TDs) take on Carroll QB Jack Miguel (187 of 329, 2,381 yards and 21 TDs). Jefferson QB Matt Wilkerson (168 of 249, 2,396 yards and 27 TDs) has a rough road trip to 28 time sectional champion Carmel, the defending state champ.

What's Warsaw going to do against Penn, which has allowed just 59 points all season? Nothing probably. Just like everybody else. The winner or Portage-Crown Point gets to host Penn and that's about all you can ask at this point.


Portage (5-5)
6-4 (2016), 1-10 (2015), 1-9 (2014), 6-4 (2013)
Coach Darren Rodriguez (2nd season, 11-9) DAC games in CAPS

8-18 (L) 45-47 at Mishawaka (6-5)
8-25 (L) 7-20 Lowell (11-0)
9-1 (W) 40-14 at LAKE CENTRAL (2-8)
9-8 (W) 28-21 at MERRILLVILLE (1-9)
9-15 (W) 27-10 CROWN POINT (6-5)
9-22 (W) 31-21 CHESTERTON (4-6)
9-29 (L) 14-31 at MICHIGAN CITY (7-3)
10-6 (L) 20-23 VALPARAISO (8-2)
10-13 (L) 33-36 at LaPORTE (7-3)

6A Sectional 1
10-27 (W) 34-14 Lake Central (2-8)
11-4 (Fri.) Crown Point (6-5)

PORTAGE SCHEDULE: Portage and Crown Point benefitted from Lake Central and Merrillville having 'down' seasons at the same time. In a lot of respects, everybody in the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) did. Portage lost three games by three points or less, so this could have been an 8-2 season very easily. The Indians lost 22-21 in the sectional semifinals last season and finished at 6-4. No matter how you did during the regular season, if you are playing for the sectional championship on your home field, you are where you want to be.


PORTAGE - For two years now, Portage has been led by quarterback Anthony Maceo (185 carries, 1,333 yards, 19 touchdowns), a scrambling runner who has proven hard to contain for most all who face him. The over-simplified defensive goal is to make Maceo (47 of 112, 984 yards, 12 TDs, 6 interceptions) throw the ball, but the Portage QB was 5-of-8 for 139 yards in the 27-10 win for the Indians over CP in September.

Maceo's fullback is senior Cody Russell (5-10, 230) who has run 74 times for 425 yards and five TDs. As a team, the Indians have run the ball 372 times. Maceo and Russell have run it 259 of those 372 times.

The No. 1 receiver is senior Greg Milledge (6-0, 190), who has 19 catches for a robust 472 yards (a 24.8 yards per catch average) and six TDs. Obviously, Portage does not throw short passes to Milledge. Angel Sanchez (6-1, 175) has a lot of speed, but the ball has found him just 11 times for 222 yards and four TDs. They have not completed a pass to Russell all year.

Portage is led up front by Jimmy Craven (6-3, 210), who has been in on 65 tackles including 11.5 tackles for losses. Craven has sacked the quarterback six times. Linebacker Drake Guererro anchors the unit with 131 tackles, including 8.5 tackles for losses.

Most teams kick away from Greg Milledge because he averages 39.7 yards per return. Senior Steve Sczakas is 3-for-5 on field goal attempts, but he has booted a 45-yarder. In the 27-10 Portage win, the Indians built three sustained drives of 70 yards or more and gained 300 total yards. Maceo gained just 61 yards on 17 carries, but junior Michael McGregor picked up 59 yards on seven carries.

The Indians held Crown Point to 125 yards rushing, but they allowed over 400 yards on the ground to Mishawaka and LaPorte. Portage has allowed 23 points a game. They are more quick and fast defensively than they are big and overpowering.

(6A) Crown Point (6-4)
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 (11-0)
8-25 (W) 35-6 (4A) Highland (3-8)
9-1 (L) 26-34 (6A) MERRILLVILLE (1-9)
9-8 (F) 45-0 (6A) at LAKE CENTRAL (2-8)
9-15 (L) 10-27 at (6A) PORTAGE (5-5)
9-22 (W) 21-6 (6A) VALPARAISO (8-2)
9-29 (W) 37-35 (6A) LaPORTE (7-3)
10-6 (W) 21-7 at (6A) CHESTERTON (3-7)
10-13 (L) 15-17 (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (7-3)

Class 6A Sectional
10-27 (W) 22-13 (6A) Merrillville (1-9)
11-4 (Fri.) at (6A) Portage (5-5)

CROWN POINT SCHEDULE - Crown Point has won four of their last five including back-to-back home wins over Valparaiso (8-2) and LaPorte (7-3). The season-opening loss to Lowell (11-0) isn't the 'black mark' that it may have seemed at the time. I had to check twice to make sure I believed what I was seeing. CP has had a lot of winning seasons in the last 30 years but Crown Point has never won the sectional championship in back-to-back seasons.

True, they only need two wins to take the sectional since Class 6A began six years ago. But in the 45 years of the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) state tournament, Crown Point has never taken home sectional trophies in consecutive years. Until Friday night.


Halfback Tyler Gomez (243 carries, 1,501 yards, 18 TDs) averages 6.2 yards per carry as does backup Scott Mills (47 carries, 298 yards), which indicates that the offensive line is the key to CP's offense. QB Ryan Bolda was hurt in the first game against Portage and missed all of the second half. Bolda (80 of 180, 1,005 yards, 8 TDs and 6 interceptions) has found senior Tyler Jones seven times in the last two weeks, including a perfect 40-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter of the semifinal win over Merrillville.

The Bulldogs' strength remains a rushing average of six yards a carry (352 rushes for 2,128 yards) and ball security, just 11 turnovers in 10 games.

Linebacker Caden Watson has 130 tackles, including 19 tackles for losses. Senior defensive back Sam Krutz has nine pass breakups to go with two interceptions and 82 tackles. If it comes down to three points, senior kicker Ben Fridrich is 6-of-11 on field goals. He was just short on a 52-yard try last Friday.

1,000-yard Crown Point football running backs, 1980 to present - TOUCHDOWNS

1. Brian Parker (1997) 258 carries, 1,702 yards, 24 TDs
2. Russel Chick (2007) 294 carries, 1,810 yards, 21 TDs
3. John Young (1987) 215 carries, 1,480 yards, 19 TDs
4. Tyler Gomez (2017) 243 carries, 1,501 yards, 18 TDs

1,000-yard Crown Point football running backs, 1980 to present - YARDS

1. Russell Chick (2007) 294 carries, 1,810 yards
2. Brian Parker (1997) 258 carries, 1,702 yards
3. Tyler Gomez (2017) 243 carries, 1,501 yards
4.. Cody Bacon (2010) 252 carries, 1,497 yards
5. Jon Sertich (2006) 235 carries, 1,492 yards
6. John Young (1987) 215 carries, 1,480 yards
7. Artie Equihua (2014) 215 carries, 1,374 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

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

Portage Stadium: capacity 5,000


SAGARIN RATINGS: Crown Point by 2.

It's rare when a team that has defeated another team is not favored in the rematch. But late season victories over LaPorte and Valparaiso give CP the edge on the computer. Portage lost to both of those teams. When a game is rated as less than three points, it's basically an even game. For the record, CP was favored by 17 against Merrillville and they won 23-14.



PORTAGE (11-03-2017)
These teams play a scoreless first quarter as the Bulldogs concentrate on making Anthony Maceo a passer and not a runner, while Portage brings extra forces to the line to stop Tyler Gomez. Crown Point breaks through after a Portage fumble and Scott Mills scores the first TD of the game on a short run near the goal line. An interception by Sam Krutz put the Bulldogs in position for a third quarter score and a 14-0 lead.

Portage rallies with a third quarter drive and and TD from their fullback Cody Russell. A defensive stop sets up Portage at midfield and Anthony Maceo ties the game 14-14 in the fourth quarter. CP's ability to run the ball improves as the game goes on and the Bulldogs drive into scoring position. A Ryan Bolda to Ben Fridrich TD pass gives the Bulldogs a late seven point edge.

Portage gets to midfield, but loses the ball on downs and CP runs out the clock.

When these teams played on September 15, I remember saying that this seemed like a good matchup for Crown Point. It still does. Crown Point is a little bigger in the lines and, if they don't fumble or throw and interception (just 11 turnovers all year) that will be the difference on a cold, November night.

I think the Bulldogs advance to host Penn for the regional championship.

CROWN POINT 21, Portage 14

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Revised: November 03, 2017 .