Week 12 - Football Game of the Week Preview

6A Crown Point (4-6) at
6A Merrillville (7-3)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


Merrillville won 6A Sectional 1 in 2014 and 2015. Crown Point stopped that run with sectional titles in 2016 and 2017. CP takes on Merrillville in the 2018 Class 6A Sectional 1 championship game is this Friday night in Merrillville. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When:  7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2, 2018.
Where:  Merrillville High School, 2 blocks east of 68th and Broadway in Merrillville, IN.

Tickets$7 (note the ticket price increase for the playoffs)
TV/Radio/Internet: The only live broadcast outlet is the Live Internet audio stream on www.USA-365.com.

Enrollment: CROWN POINT - 2,805; MERRILLVILLE – 2,200.

WEATHER: If you have one of those full body costumes left over from Halloween, you might want to wear it to the football game Friday. It will be cold. Mid-40s. Light winds. But it's November. We’re lucky it isn’t snowing. And don’t even look at the forecast for next Friday.


PARKING: Plenty. There are two very good things about Crown Point playing at Merrillville.

1.) After the game, you’re home in 15 minutes.

2.) You can show up at 6:55 p.m. and there will still be someplace to park. I haven’t walked it off. But I believe that Merrillville has more parking than any other school in NW Indiana.


WHAT's AT STAKE: Everything. There’s not going to be any state champions on the field this Friday. Nine of the Top-10 teams are still in the tournament and neither CP or Merrillville is one of them.

But when you begin the season your goal is (and should be) to win the sectional championship. And in that respect, there’s some drama here.

Merrillville was 1-9 last season and they have come back to go 7-3 against a very strong schedule. This game would cap their comeback season.

Crown Point went 3-6 this season, but they went 4-5 in 2016 and 5-4 in 2017. In both of those years, Crown Point rose up and won the Class 6A Sectional championship.

In the 45-year history of the Indiana state football tournament, no Crown Point senior class has won three consecutive sectional championships. And the last team standing in the Bulldogs’ way is arch-rival Merrillville.

This is the sixth meeting of CP and Merrillville in the last three seasons.

And for the seniors, this is the biggest one.


CLASS 6A Sectional Championships
1: Crown Point [4-6] at Merrillville [7-3]
2: No. 10 Valparaiso [8-2] at No. 9 Penn [8-2]
3: (Fort Wayne) Snider [8-2] at Homestead [7-3]
4: No. 3 Carmel [8-2] at No. 5 (Lafayette) Jefferson [9-1]
5: No. 4 (Indianapolis) North Central [8-2] at Fishers [4-6]
6: Lawrence Central [4-6] at No. 1 Warren Central [10-0]
7: No. 2 Brownsburg [10-0] at No. 8 Avon [8-2]
8: No. 7 Center Grove [7-3] at Franklin Central [3-7]


The HISTORY: This is the purest rivalry in this part of the state. The first team Merrillville ever faced in varsity football was Wirt. The second was Rensselaer. The third was Crown Point on September 20, 1946.

CP and Merrillville met in the season opener in 1983 and every year after that until 1996. But in 1997, the annual border rivalry between Crown Point-Merrillville game was moved to the third week of the regular season where it is was in 1946 and is to this day.

According to the web site: Northern Indiana Football.com, this will be the 83rd meeting of CP and Merrillville (Merrillville leads the series 47-35-1). Only Lowell (101 games) has played CP more often.
Since 1992, CP has played Merrillville 42 times in 26 years including 10 times from 2004 to 2008.

In the last 10 years, Merrillville has eliminated Crown Point from the state tournament five times. Merrillville has won the last three regular season ‘week three’ meetings and is 6-3 against the Bulldogs during that time.

But CP has eliminated the Pirates from Sectional 1 play in each of the past two years.

If you’ve read these pages for any period of time, you know that I have lots of ideas about how things can be changed for the better in high school football.

Not here. Merrillville and Crown Point should play in week three every year. They should meet in the post-season every year.

It already is the way it should be.

4-7 (2017), 5-6 (2016), 4-6 (2015), 6-5 (2014)
Coach Brad Seiss (20-23) 4th year / DAC games in CAPS

8-17 (W) 20-14 (3A) Andrean (10-1)
8-24 (L) 16-28 (6A) Penn (8-2)
8-31 (W) 26-21 (6A) CROWN POINT (4-6)
9-7 (W) 39-0 at (6A) PORTAGE (4-6)
9-14 (L) 21-42 (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (8-2)
9-21 (W) 35-7 at (5A) LaPORTE (4-6)
9-28 (L) 6-20 (6A) VALPARAISO (8-2)
10-5 (W) 31-14 (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (2-8)
10-12 (W) 28-16 at (6A) CHESTERTON (3-7)

Class 6A Sectional 1
10-26 (W) 42-14 Lake Central (2-8)
11-2 (Fri) CROWN POINT (4-6)

Class 6A Regional

11-9 (Fri) at Valparaiso (9-2) or Penn (9-2)



The Pirates jumped out to a 21-0 lead and coasted to a 42-14 win over Lake Central last week in the 6A Sectional 1 semifinals. The Pirates use two quarterbacks, both juniors.

Aahric Whitehead (5-11, 175) was 7 of 11 for 122 yards and two TDs in the Pirates' 26-21 win over CP in September. Peter Rodriguez (5-6, 155) ran 10 times for 71 yards and a TD last week.
Whitehead is more of a passer. Rodriguez is more of a runner. That’s no secret.

Merrillville uses a lot of four receiver formations that include brothers Jaylen Glass (5-9, 160) and Armani Glass (5-6, 135) who are dual-threat running and pass catching targets. Armani Glass has caught 34 passes for 597 yards and eight TDs. He also runs some reverse plays out of his slot receiver position and the junior is the Pirates top kick returner. Jaylen Glass has 14 catches for 185 yards.

Halfback Roderick Bell (5-6, 165) gained 103 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries last week against LC. Bell has over 900 yards rushing. I don’t remember him playing in the September CP-Merrillville game. Junior Darius Schultz (5-7, 155) scored two TDs against CP that night. Schultz is listed as having less than 500 yards rushing, but he is also listed with 11 TDs.

Defensively, Merrillville is led by senior tackle Justin Ramsey (6-0, 293) and freshman Kenneth Grant (6-3, 336) who anchor the defensive front. Only Michigan City has run the ball successfully against the Pirates.

Linebacker Anthony Swims (5-9, 170) intercepted two passes last year in Merrillville’s 34-26 win at CP and he has three interceptions this season. Swims, the Pirates' leading tackler, was not 100% healthy for the CP game in September, but he probably is now. Corner Will Fulton (5-9, 160) has four interceptions.

Junior place kicker Nike Djukic (5-10, 160) has range from about 35 yards in.

Merrillville has had turnover problems. They lost five turnovers against Andrean and seven more against Valparaiso. But none in the win over Crown Point. This rematch may come down to whether Merrillville fumbles or throws interceptions. If they don’t, they are hard to stop.

2018 (6A) Crown Point (4-6)
7-5 (2017) 6-6 (2016), 1-9 (2015), 8-2 (2014)
Coach Kevin Enright (7th year) 40-36

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

6A State tournament
10-27 (W) 12-7 Portage (4-6)
11-2 (Fri) at Merrillville (7-3)

6A Regional championship
11-9 (Fri) home vs. Penn (9-2) or at Valparaiso (9-2)



Crown Point won 12-7 last week with an official 181 yards of total offense and they know they need more than that this week. The earlier matchup was one of the better games for rookie quarterback Will Pettit, who completed 16 of 29 passes for 159 yards and two fourth quarter touchdowns. Pettit is 96 of 218 on the season for 928 yards, but he did well in his first game in Merrillville.

The Pirates held CP rushing leader Scott Mills (223 carries, 844 yards, 10 TDs) to 58 yards on 20 carries and CP will surely go to some double right end formations to try to run the ball better than they did in the first matchup.

Pettit, who was sacked four times in that game, led two scoring drives in the fourth quarter, giving CP a 21-20 lead with 2:00 minutes to play.

CP junior receivers Tysen Cazy (6-3, 180) and David O’Toole (6-1, 190) have combined for 50 catches and 602 yards gained this season. In the first Merrillville game, slot receiver Anthony Gonzalez (5-8, 125) caught six passes for 71 yards and a late touchdown.

The CP defense has allowed just 241 yards per game, even though the offense has just 88 first downs all season.

Linebacker Ethan Potosky (6-0, 190) was in on 14 tackles in the semifinal win over Portage and he has been in on 105 stops on the season. Trevor Bieszczat (6-0, 170), a senior outside linebacker was in on 11 stops last week and is up to 75 in 10 games. Sam Krutz scored his first TD of the season on a fumble return. Krutz returned an interception for a TD against Valparaiso last season.

Junior Collin Flavin (6-1, 230) was in on six stops at defensive end. Flavin, who is also CP’s punter (33.6 yards per boot on 56 punts), has 10 tackles for loss this season.

In the CP-Merrillville game in September, the Pirates gained just 99 yards on 41 carries, but they led most of four quarters.

The Bulldogs are 4-6 (and could easily be 6-4 if narrow losses to Portage and Chesterton had been wins) despite the fact that they averages just 13.2 points and 190 yards of offense per game.

Kick returner Railaun Cosey (5-9, 155) could play a major role. Cosey has a 27.7 year average on 16 returns this season and he broke loose on a 45-yard return last week against Portage.

CP has shown no running option other than Mills. Of the Bulldogs’ 974 yards gained on the ground, Mills has 844 of them. That did not change over the course of the season, but it could change for one game. I would not be shocked to see someone like Krutz, Bieszczat or Cosey carrying the ball on a ‘special’ play.

When it comes down to one game involving teams that play each other twice a year, neither side can change too much. But both sides may try something a little different.


at Merrillville's Demaree Stadium - Capacity: 7,200


SAGARIN RATINGS: Merrillville by 10.

This spread has to do with Merrillville winning the first meeting and defeating Portage and Chesterton, two teams that beat CP. CP’s relatively close loss to Lowell (9-2) is probably a plus on the computer, but so is Merrillville’s loss to Penn (8-2). For the record: In the first meeting between these two teams. Merrillville was favored by 10 on the computer and they won 26-21. Last week Portage was a 2-point favorite over CP and the Bulldogs won 12-7.



MERRILLVILLE (11-02-2018)
I think this game stays scoreless for a period before Merrillville takes a 7-0 lead on a run by Roderick Bell. Crown Point gets an interception and ties the game going to halftime on a short run by Scott Mills.

The Pirates' short passing game moves the ball in the third quarter as it did in the regular season matchup and Armani Glass scores a couple of TDs after halftime.

CP rallies on a throw from Will Pettit to Tysen Cazy, cutting the lead to 21-14, but a field goal after a sack/fumble ends the scoring. This game is hard to predict because both sides have lost the ball a lot. Both CP and Merrillville could commit four turnovers and lose it. But assuming no meltdowns on either side, the defensive front of Merrillville should be the difference.



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Revised: November 01, 2018 .