Week 4 - Football Game of the Week Preview

6A Lake Central (2-1) at 
6A Crown Point (1-2)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


Exactly 12 years ago tomorrow CP and Lake Central were both undefeated in the fourth week of the year. But the Bulldogs rode the passing of Blake Mascarello to victory.

Matt Childress (71), Matt Polus (62), Andrew Krumwied (65) and Kurt Wermers (70) stood guard while Mascarello was 12 of 19 for 240 yards in a 31-14 CP victory.

This might have been CP's greatest team. The 2006 Bulldogs went 12-0 before losing 28-21 at LaPorte in Class 5A (there was no 6A then) regional play. Mascarello went on to pitch at Purdue and play professional baseball. Kurt Wermers was an all-state lineman who got a scholarship to Michigan. He now coaches tight ends for the 2018 Bulldogs. (Archive photo from 2006 by Mark Smith)

When: Friday, September 7, 2018;  Kick-off:  7 p.m.

Where: Crown Point High School - 1500 S. Main (one mile south of the downtown square), Crown Point, Ind.


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

Enrollment: CROWN POINT - 2,805; Lake Central – 3,209.

WEATHER: Cooler. No low 80s with painful humidity, which has been the norm for months. After rain on Wednesday, we are promised temperatures in the low 70s Friday. There is a chance of rain Friday, but it should end by game time. In the interest of full disclosure, I also told you that there was no rain in the forecast for last Friday night, too. There wasn’t. But as you recall, we has a monsoon and a lightning-happy electrical storm which could have powered Hebron for a year. And as long as the humidity stays high, I suppose there’s a chance or rain everyday whether it's forecast or not. Maybe I should have said that.


PARKING: This is usually a popular game. LC people have no trouble finding the big school next door and they’ve gotten off to a good start this season. This is the ‘road trip schedule' for CP where they have only four home games and only two after tonight. Unless it rains a lot Friday, we’ll see a very good crowd and fans should show up a little early. For visitors from LC, the bigger lot is north of the field, but there is space east and south of the stadium. It's rare when all the lots are full at CPHS.


WHAT's AT STAKE: Both teams are 0-1 in Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) play, so tonight’s winner can still win or tie for the league title this year. But, as I said last week, Merrillville, LC and Crown Point are locked into the Class 6A Sectional 1 ‘Bermuda Triangle’ at the end of the season.

Simply put, there are four teams (including Portage) in Sectional 1’s two week single-elimination playoff. So when any of these four meet in DAC play, they can be reasonably certain they will meet again early in the post-season.

This will be the fourth meeting of LC and CP in the last three years and the 10th meeting of these two schools in the last seven years.

The point is: Whoever loses this Friday, almost certainly gets a rematch.


The HISTORY: Lake Central high school is the 1965 rebranding of Dyer Central (1949-1965), one of the three original Lake County schools south of US 30. Dyer Central began varsity football play in 1949 and they were immediately competitive, beating Lowell 21-6, and Crown Point 7-0 in their first season. Coached by Tom Stokes, Dyer Central tied Griffith for the championship of the old Calumet Conference in 1960 and the school was 6-2-2 in its final season, 1965.

John Tennant, who coached Dyer Central from 1963 to ’65, stayed on as coach of Lake Central, but his success didn’t carry over. LC was 7-18-2 from 1966 to ’68.

In came Hal Traviola as coach and LC finally had a wining season (7-2-1) in 1970. More success came under Bob Komara (19-11) form ’79 to ’81 before Elmer Britton came over from South Bend to coach LC to its greatest era, 131-63 record from 1983 to 2000.

After the breakup of the Lake Suburban Conference in 1992, LC was an independent in the 1990s and they traveled far and wide, playing schools like Ben Davis, Decatur Central, Penn and Zionsville.
LC hit on hard times when they joined the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) in 2003, going 1-9 (0-7 in the DAC), 1-9 (0-7 DAC) and 2-8 (0-7 DAC) in the first three seasons. Lake Central had a 21-game DAC losing streak when they defeated Portage 10-3 on September 1, 2006.

LC won the school’s first undefeated DAC title in 2014, but hard times hit again. LC is a combined 11-19 in the last three seasons.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the up-and-down nature of LC since they joined the DAC is the natural order. Every coach in the DAC surely hears about how he and his program should be dominating the league with the talent he has. Never mind the talent the other seven big schools have.

LC seems to be rebounding from some down years. But in a bad year, the DAC is the top league in this corner of the state. Nobody stays at the top of it for more than three or four years in a row.

The 'Retro Photo'
CP Rolls Over LC 31-14

Team 1 2 3 4 F
Lake Central (3-1, 1-1 DAC) 0 0 0 14 14
CROWN POINT (4-0, 2-0 DAC) 14 7 3 7 31

Friday, September 8, 2006,  78 degrees, dry at Crown Point, DAC

1st Qtr CROWN POINT (7-0) Tommy Parks, 1-yard run.  91-yard drive, 8 plays.  Michael Lipton kick 5:31 left.
CROWN POINT (14-0)  Blake Mascarello, 20-yard run.  44-yard drive, 4 plays.  Lipton kick.
2nd Qtr:  CROWN POINT (21-0)  Tommy Parks, 1-yard run.  83-yard drive, 10 plays.  Lipton kick.
3rd Qtr:  CROWN POINT (24-0)  Michael Lipton, 29-yard field goal.  63-yard drive, 8 plays.  8:28 left.
4th QtrCROWN POINT (31-0)  Matt Ernest, 34-yard TD pass from Blake Mascarello.  1 play, 35 yards after Matt Osojnicki recovered Austen Macek's fumble at the LC 30.  11:33 left.
LAKE CENTRAL (31-7)  Joe Wingis, 30-yard pass from PJ Gbur.  55-yard drive, 9 plays.  Scott Spicer kick.  7:31 left.
LAKE CENTRAL (31-14)  Austen Macek, 98-yard punt return.  Spicer kick.  1:32 left.


LAKE CENTRAL (30-118 yards, 0 fumble, 0 TDs)  Tony Morang (HB) 9-10  yards, PJ Gbur (QB) 8-39 yards; Anthony Moore (HB) 5-30 yards;
CROWN POINT (32-150 yards, 3 TDs, 0 fumbles)
  Jon Sertich (HB) 16-63 yards, Tommy Parks (FB) 5-20 yards, Ryan Forney (WR) 2-39 yards,
Blake Mascarello (QB) 2-20 yards, Even Nikrin (FB) 2-8 yards, Nick Bruno (HB) 3-2 yards; Marcus Shrewsbury (QB) 2 (-2 yards).

  PJ Gbur (QB) 11-19, 72 yards, one TD; Corey McNulty (QB) 2-3, 21 yards,
CROWN POINT -  Blake Mascarello (QB) 12-18, 237 yards, TD, 0 INTS;

Joe Wingis (WR) 6-66 yards, TD, Austen Macek (WR) 4-17 yards, Troy Gulden (TE) 1-12 yards;
Kevin Doyle (WR) 1-5 yards; Tony Morang (HB) 1 (-3 yards)

CROWN POINT - Matt Ernest (WR) 8-182 yards, TD, Ryan Forney (WR) 2-32 yards, Tommy Parks (FB) 2-23 yards.

LAKE CENTRAL (2) 2 fumbles;  CROWN POINT (0).

CROWN POINT: It was Crown Point's best half of the season.  A dominant pair of quarters against an undefeated squad.  The third quarter wasn't quite so good and the fourth quarter probably wasn't good at all.  But when you play Crown Point football these days, you can bad mouth your own 17-point triumph over a squad that had not previously lost.  These are indeed the 'good old days'. With junior quarterback Blake Mascarello firing six first half completions to 6-foot-2 senior receiver Matt Ernest, CP jumped all over a Lake Central squad that had not faced a team with a winning record.  With 5,000 fans looking on, the Bulldogs (4-0) moved the ball better than they had all season, scoring three TDs in the first 16 minutes of play.  Lake Central jumped on some Bulldogs mistakes in the second half to make the final score less embarrassing, but the visitors were never in contention to win this matchup of two of the largest schools in Lake County.

The score became 24-0 in the third quarter after a 63-yard, eight-play drive that ended in Bulldog sophomore Michael Lipton's 29-yard field goal after the second half kickoff.  When LC's Macek fumbled a punt at the LC 30-yard line on the second play of the fourth quarter, Mascarello immediately hit a play-action pass down the center of the field to Ernest, who made an acrobatic grab of a ball that actually appeared to be thrown behind him.  It was 31-0 with 11:33 left in the game.

Crown Point quarterback Blake Mascarello came into the LC game at 24-of-44 for 281 yards and five TDs.  Against the Indians, he was 12 of 18 for 237 and another TD. In 62 passes, Mascarello has had only one intercepted this season.  The Bulldogs have turned the ball over just four times in four games.


Yes, those were the 'good old days.' This might have been CP's greatest team. The 2006 Bulldogs went 12-0 before losing 28-21 at LaPorte in Class 5A (there was no 6A then) regional play. Mascarello went on to pitch at Purdue and play professional baseball. Kurt Wermers was an all-state lineman who got a scholarship to Michigan. He now coaches tight ends for the 2018 Bulldogs.

(6A) Lake Central (2-1)
2-8 (2017), 4-6 (2016), 5-5 (2015), 9-2 (2014)
Coach Tony Bartolomeo (3-7) 2nd year / DAC games in CAPS

8-17 (W) 10-3 (5A) Munster (1-2)
8-24 (W) 33-13 at (4A) Morton (1-2)
8-31 (L) 10-18 at (6A) PORTAGE (2-1)
9-7 (Fri) at (6A) CROWN POINT (1-2)
9-14 (Fri) (5A) LaPORTE (0-3)
9-21 (Fri) at (5A) MICHOGAN CITY (2-1)
9-28 (Fri) (6A) CHESTERTON (1-2)
10-5 (Fri) at (6A) MERRILLVILLE (2-1)
10-12 (Fri) at (6A) VALPARAISO (1-2)

Class 6A Sectional 1
10-29 (Fri) vs. MERRILLVILLE, Portage and CROWN POINT



Lake Central had a good chance to be 3-0, but they lost a 10-6 lead at home in the fourth quarter and were defeated 18-10 by Portage last week. Senior quarterback Zack Bundalo (6-4, 205) is probably the best thrower of the football that Crown Point has yet faced this season. His numbers are not great: 29 of 65 for 412 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. But he is big and experienced. LC has run the ball only slightly more (81 runs) than they have thrown (66 passes) and the Indians seem fairly conservative, running some old I-formation deep in their own territory.

Bundalo was 97 of 206 last season for 1,337 yards and 13 touchdowns. I can't explain the sub-50% completion percentage last year and this year. The Indians don’t use three and 4 wide receiver sets on every down, but when they do, they seem to have more capability than they have shown.

Halfback Felix Garcia (5-9, 160) has run 34 times for 123 yards. Junior Keysean Wigley (5-9, 160) has caught 11 passes for 241 yards. Senior receiver Quincy Tribble (5-8, 141) has 13 catches for 103 yards so far after missing his junior season with injuries. Up front, senior center Nick Garcia (6-0, 280) leads a good size offensive line.

Defensively it's been a good season so far for the Indians and it will continue to be. Senior Mohammed Suleiman (5-11, 175) has been credited with 25 solo tackles so far from the safety position. Linebacker Rico Gomez (5-10, 205) has 19 solo tackles. Big senior defensive end Jonas Sparks (6-4, 240) has 15 solo tackles. A newcomer is sophomore inside linebacker Sam Long (6-0, 230) who has 17 solo tackles. This is a good unit with a lot of experience. LC has allowed just 34 points in three games.

The Indians may play somewhat conservatively on offense because they have a strong kicking game. Clayton Truman has averaged 40.8 yards on 11 kicks and Cole Rainwater has been a dominating placekicker. The senior is 6-of-6 on extra points and 3-of-5 on field goals, including a successful 48-yard kick. Rainwater also averages 55 yards per kickoff with seven touchbacks (unreturnable kicks into the end zone) in 12 kickoffs.

Alex DelToro had an 85-yard kickoff return touchdown against Morton. Wigley has a 40-yard return this season. Senior Joe Wells has a 37-yard return. All of Lake Central’s statistics suggest they are conservative on offense, very confident on defense and special teams and improved over last season when they only won two games all year.

(6A) Crown Point (1-2)
7-5 (2017) 6-6 (2016), 1-9 (2015), 8-2 (2014)
Coach Kevin Enright (7th year) 37-31

8-17 (L) 7-17 (4A) Lowell (2-1)
8-24 (W) 14-10 at (4A) Highland (1-2)
8-31 (L) 21-26 at (6A) MERRILLVILLE (2-1)

9-7 (Fri) (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (2-1)
9-14 (Fri) (6A) PORTAGE (2-1)
9-21 (Fri) at (6A) VALPARAISO (1-2)

9-28 (Fri) at (5A) LaPORTE (0-3)
10-6 (Fri) (6A) CHESTERTON (1-2)
10-13 (Fri) at (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (2-1)

6A State tournament
10-27 (Fri) vs. Portage, Lake Central or MERRILLVILLE



Crown Point did have a 21-20 lead with two minutes to go last week at Merrillville, so they certainly feel they should have won. The CP defense held Merrillville to 99 yards on 41 rushing attempts. But Pirate QB Aahric Whitehead hit two TDs passes and there were at least two more plays where Pirate receivers were running free behind the CP defense where Merrillville should have scored.

CP has allowed just 220 yards rushing on 105 attempts so far (2.1 yard average) in three games, but the Merrillville game signaled some pass rush and coverage issues. CP just hasn’t run the ball well so far. Only 179 yards on 81 rushing attempts in three games. To be fair, they’ve faced some very good defensive fronts in Lowell and Merrillville, but the Bulldogs obviously need much more than 2.2 yards per carry. With senior halfback Christian Berry (16 carries, 85 yards) out indefinitely with a knee injury, expect a new face to be partnered with senior Scott Mills, who has carried 53 times in three games. Without a running quarterback, CP needs a second option in the run game.

Sophomore QB Will Pettit (6-2, 190) has 39 completions in 71 attempts for 355 yards in three games. Pettit was 16 of 29 for 159 yards last week at Merrillville and he threw two fourth quarter touchdowns.

Senior slot receiver Anthony Gonzalez caught six passes for 71 yards last week and he now has 10 grabs on the season for 104 yards. Junior Tysen Cazy (6-3, 180) has 15 catches on the season for 177 yards. Junior David O’Toole (6-1 190) has six catches for 35 yards. It's no secret that the Bulldog passing attack has significant potential. But I still don't think CP wants to throw the ball 25-30 times a game, even though that’s happened twice in three weeks, both times in losses.

Senior Justin Robinson was 3-of-3 on extra points last week and I believe it was his onside kick that CP recovered in the fourth quarter.

Defensively, linebacker Adam Hillard (6-0, 190) and nose tackle Blake Klingberg (5-10, 330) have both been in on 28 tackles. Ethan Potosky (6-0, 190) has seven tackles for lost yardage included in his 27 stops. Safety Sam Krutz (6-1, 180) has been involved in 21 tackles.

The CP defense has good numbers (569 yards and 34 first downs, six TDs allowed) through three games, but Merrillville (259 yards, 14 first downs and 4 TDs) found a way to attack them last week and, since Portage played Lake Central Friday night, representatives from both schools were at the rain-delayed game Saturday to watch every CP-Merrillville play up close.

6A LAKE CENTRAL (2-1, 0-1 DAC) at 6A CROWN POINT (1-2, 0-1 DAC)
at CP Stadium - capacity: 4,800


Sagarin computer ratings:  CP by 2.


CROWN POINT - To me, anything less than a 3-point spread is a statistical tie. That’s not surprising here. LC‘s two wins have been against unranked teams with 1-2 records (Munster and Morton). Crown Point's losses have been to two teams (Merrillville and Lowell) with 2-1 records. LC’s loss was 18-12 to Class 6A Portage (2-1) while CP’s win was 14-10 over Class 4A Highland (1-2).  CP’s Class 6A loss to Merrillville was by five points. LC’s 6A loss to Portage was by six points. If home field is worth a point or two, this game is dead even. For the record, Merrillville was favored to beat Crown Point by 10 last week on the computer and they won 26-21.

CROWN POINT (09-07-2018) Both teams are coming off games they lost after leading in the fourth quarter last week, but there’s also two struggling offenses head-to-head with two sound defenses here.

Another low-scoring first half. CP takes a 7-3 halftime lead on a short pass form Will Pettit to David O’Toole.

LC goes ahead 10-7 on a short pass and long run by speedy Keysean Wigley. CP finds success on a short pass from Pettit to Scott Mills, who breaks a long gainer near the goal line. Mills scores from inside the 5-yard line for a 14-10 lead.

LC’s star kicker Cole Rainwater hits a long field goal to cut the lead to one, but defenses take over after that. I think both teams have a lot more offense than they have shown. But I’ll just have to keep thinking that for another week because defense dominate this very close game.

CROWN POINT 14, Lake Central 13

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Revised: September 06, 2018.