Week 13 - Football Game of the Week Preview

The 6A Regional:
Crown Point (5-6)
Valparaiso (9-2)

CP's David O'Toole (88) grabs a pass in front of Valpo defensive back Treston Winkel (20) in the Vikings 38-7 win over CP in September. The rematch is Friday night at Valparaiso. (Photo by Mark Smith)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


When:  7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 9, 2018

Where:  Valparaiso High School, 2727 Campbell Main Street, Valparaiso, IN 46385.

Tickets$7 (regional price)
TV/Radio/Internet: The only live Internet outlet for this is on www.USA-365.com.

Enrollment: CROWN POINT - 2,805; Valparaiso – 2,150.

WEATHER: Bad. No two ways about it. Temperatures in the low 30s at the start of the game and in the upper 20s in the second half. It will be very cold and a little windy as well. Not a night for the very young or the very old to be outside for two hours. You need an all-body suit of some kind. Ski clothes. And pick up a dozen of those heat pack hand warmers at the drug store. Be realistic here. I’m not saying you’re crazy to sit out doors for two hours in 29 degree weather. I’m "just saying."

The game is on the radio. Sit in your car and honk the horn when the Bulldogs get a first down. Valpo has artificial turf, but there is a chance of snow so the footing may be poor. This game could be the ‘poster child’ for playing November playoff games on Saturday afternoons in the daylight.


PARKING: Parking won't be your concern Friday night even with some construction this fall at VHS. This game might draw a capacity crowd if it was 70 degrees. It won't be 70 degrees. It won't draw a capacity draw. If you go, you want to park close to the field so you can run out to your car at halftime. Fill the car up with gas before the game. You might want to head out to your car at the half and stay there.


WHAT's AT STAKE: This is another championship game and it is big on big. Valpo is playing for the Vikings' seventh regional championship and their first since 2010.

The Vikings won the state title in 1975 and lost the state championship game in 1985 and 2001.

Crown Point won the regional title in 1988 and the Bulldogs have never won a semistate or state championship.

If Valparaiso wins they could very easily be home for the semistate against Carmel, which is a big favorite to beat Snider Friday night.

If Crown Point wins, they go home to play the 6A Northern Semistate against either Carmel or Snider. I don’t want to say that Valpo or CP winning the state title is impossible, but Warren Central is the 10th ranked team in the nation according to USA Today newspaper.


CLASS 6A Regional Championships
Crown Point [5-6] at No. 10 Valparaiso [9-2]
(Fort Wayne) Snider [9-2] at No. 3 Carmel [9-2]
No. 1 Warren Central (11-0) at No. 4 (Indianapolis) North Central (9-2)
No. 8 Avon [9-2] at No. 7 Center Grove [8-3]


The HISTORY: Valparaiso was one of the charter members of the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) in 1970 and going further back you can find Valpo in the Northern Indiana Conference (NIC) standings in the mid-1940s.

Valpo and Crown Point met to open the high school football season from 1940 to 1962 and the earliest meeting I can find is a 12-0 CP win over Valpo on Nov. 5, 1904.

The nine-game high school regular season used to be eight games long. When the IHSAA approved a ninth game for the 1996 season, somebody got on the phone and it happened that Valparaiso and Penn got together. The Vikings have begun the season with Penn for the last 22 seasons. Of those 22 games in August, Valpo has lost to Penn 19 times.

Coaches say that playing a tough schedule toughens you up for the regular season. That’s ‘coach speak’ and it's difficult to start 19 of 22 seasons with a loss. That’s a hard sell for your players.
But let the record show that Valpo has followed up a 9-2 season in 2017 with a 9-2 season this fall.

I always thought of Valpo as a ‘basketball school’, maybe because they’ve won 52 basketball sectionals. But the football program has always been highly regarded even with just 11 sectionals.
State tourney formats have changed for big schools, making a sectional football championship in Class 6A much easier than it was 10 or 20 years ago. You only need two wins. For decades, you needed three.

The basketball sectional for the Vikings, which used to be Valpo against the much smaller Porter County Conference schools in the one-class tournament days (before 1997) now is a much tougher eight-team three round playoff.

But with the Vikings’ win over Penn last week to grab the 6A Sectional 2 crown, this may be Valparaiso’s best chance in a long time (and for a the foreseeable future) to get to the state championship game.

The Vikings are hosting a team they defeated by 31 points in September and they have a good chance to host the semistate game as well. One year after a somewhat difficult coaching change, Valparaiso football is riding high.

(6A) Valparaiso (9-2)
8-2 (2017), 5-5 (2016), 7-3 (2015), 2-8 (2014)
Coach Bill Marshall (9-3) 2nd year (one game in 2017)/ DAC games in CAPS

8-17 (L) 3-21 at (6A) Penn (8-3)
8-24 (L) 20-29 at (4A) Mishawaka (11-1)
9-1 (W) 38-8 (5A) LaPORTE (4-7)
9-7 (W) 14-7 at (5A) MICHGAN CITY (9-2)
9-14 (W) 23-0 at CHESTERTON (3-7)
9-21 (W) 38-7 (6A) CROWN POINT (5-6)
9-28 (W) 20-6 at (6A) MERRILLVILLE (7-4)
10-5 (W) 17-7 PORTAGE (4-6)
10-12 (W) 48-14 at (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (2-8)

Class 6A Sectional 2
10-26 (W) 55-7 Chesterton (3-7)
11-2 (W) 21-0 at Penn (8-3)

Class 6A Regional
11-9 (Fri) Crown Point (5-6)

Class A Semistate
11-16 (Fri) at Snider (10-2) or home vs. Carmel (10-2)


VALPO Update:

The Vikings have won nine in a row and the 21-0 win at Penn almost reverses the loss to the same team on opening day back in August. They seem to be in peak form in the playoffs.

Running backs Jackson Kurth (5-10, 185) and Jesse Harper (5-9, 155) have combined for over 2,000 yards and with respect to them, a lot of it is the boys up front.

The Viking right side sits John Hofer (6-5, 310) next to tackle Ben Scott (6-5, 320). The tight end Jake Evans (6-3, 230). You have to match quickness against size, because you don’t have their size.
Kurth (186 carries, 1,203 yards) and Harper (125 carries, 846 yards) give balance to quarterback CJ Opperman (6-4, 185) who is 88 of 183 for 1,115 passing yards. Junior Antonio Osario (24 catches, 197 yards) and Harper (22 catches, 405 yards) are the leading receivers for the Vikings, but a total of 183 passes in 11 games isn't very many.

The Vikings are very content to run it and punt it and let you deal with their defense, which has 31 quarterback sacks and 16 interceptions.

Defensively, tackles Cooper Jones (6-5, 240) and Jacob Hruska (6-1, 240) protect linebacker Max Bukur (6-2, 220), who has 96 tackles. Tyler Bukur (6-3, 215) has 64 tackles and Peyton Kurtz (6-1, 210) has been in on 54 stops.

Safety Reece Crossin (6-0, 200) and cornerback Jack Cahill (5-8, 160) both have five interceptions.

Valpo has allowed 106 points (9.6 per game) in 11 games and just 56 points in the last nine games, all Viking wins. Junior Elias Sewell has six field goals, the longest from 34 yards away. But Valpo has a better defense than they do an offense. And on a bad weather night, the Vikings will gladly live and die on defense.

2018 (6A) Crown Point (5-6)
7-5 (2017) 6-6 (2016), 1-9 (2015), 8-2 (2014)
Coach Kevin Enright (7th year) 41-36

8-17 (L) 7-17 (4A) Lowell (10-2)
8-24 (W) 14-10 at (4A) Highland (4-6)
8-31 (L) 21-26 at (6A) MERRILLVILLE (7-4)

9-7 (W) 21-3 (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (2-8)
9-14 (L) 12-14 (6A) PORTAGE (4-6)
9-21 (L) 7-38 at (6A) VALPARAISO (9-2)

9-28 (W) 24-21 at (5A) LaPORTE (4-7)
10-5 (L) 14-17 (6A) CHESTERTON (3-7)
10-12 (L) 0-48 at (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (9-2)

6A Sectional 1
10-27 (W) 12-7 Portage (4-6)
11-2 (W) 17-13 at Merrillville (7-4)
6A Regional
11-9 (Fri) at Valparaiso (9-2)

6A Semistate

11-16 (Fri) home vs. Carmel (10-2) or Snider (10-2)

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. Tyler Gomez (2017) 283 carries, 1,630 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
12. Scott Mills (2018) 247 carries, 975 yards


Crown Point’s 17-13 Sectional 1 championship win at Merrillville was amazing. The Bulldogs gained just three first downs and they were outgained 399 yards to 213. But a 61-yard run by senior Scott Mills and an 84-yard TD pass from sophomore Will Pettit to junior Tysen Cazy boosted the Bulldogs to their third sectional championship in a row.

Defensively Adam Hillard (6-0 180) was in on 14 tackles while Trevor Bieszczat and Sam Krutz were involved in 11 stops each as the Bulldogs reversed an earlier 26-21 loss at Merrillville. The win marked the seventh time that CP has allowed less than 20 points in a game.

Pettit (103 of 231, 1,023 yards, 7 TDs, 12 interceptions) was 7 of 13 against Merrillville and did not have a pass intercepted for the second consecutive game. And Cazy (30 caches, 437 yards grabbed his fourth TD pass of the season.

Senior halfback Scott Mills went over 100 yards for the second game in a row with 131 yards on 24 carries, including a 61-yard TD.

Jack Mumaugh’s 23-yard field goal, his second of the season, proved to be crucial points.

Mills was the only back who ran the ball against Merrillville and I still expect to see a little ‘alternative offense’ against Valpo, with a three-back, no QB ‘Wildcat formation’ or some misdirection run with wide receivers or even a defensive back like Railaun Cosey or Sam Krutz.

The Bulldogs have won games with 12 and 17 points the last two weeks and they need more than that this Friday. They need to make a play in the passing game early (as they did at Merrillville), which will give them room to run.

CP has gone without noseguard Blake Klingberg in the last four games and halfback Christian Berry most of the season. It is unlikely either will be available at Valpo.

6A CROWN POINT (5-6) at 6A No. 10 Valparaiso (9-2)

at Vikings Stadium - Capacity: 5,000


SAGARIN RATINGS: Valparaiso by 26.

This spread is fair. Valparaiso has defeated Michigan City, Chesterton, Merrillville and Portage, all teams that have defeated Crown Point. The Vikings have played Penn and Mishawaka, two teams tougher than anyone (other than Valpo) that CP has played. And there is the little matter of that earlier meeting two months ago. For the record, Valpo was favored to beat Crown Point by 27 points on September 21 and they won 38-7.



VALPARAISO (11-09-2018)
It's obvious that Valparaiso is a big favorite Friday, so let's look at this a different way. What can CP do to reverse a 31-point loss six weeks ago? The Bulldogs were down 14-0 after five minutes, so any upset would spring from a scoreless first series. CP has to win on special teams. Valpo’s Antonio Osario scored on a 92-yard kickoff return in the earlier game, which Valpo led 28-3 at halftime.

One thing CP has to do here is tackle better than the first game. Limit Valpo gains to first downs instead of touchdowns. The Vikings had a lot of ‘20-yard plus’ runs in the first game. I’m pretty sure that Valparaiso won't score 38 points on the Bulldogs again. There’s not 31 points difference in these teams. But if the Bulldogs hold Valpo to 20 points, can CP score 21 on the Viking defense? I’m not sure I see it.



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Revised: November 09, 2018 .