Week 5 - Football Game of the Week Preview

Crown Point (2-2)
at Portage (2-2)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith
Portage is that giant school you see on Route 6 in North Porter County. If you wonder if you're at the right school, check for the 20 foot long Indiana head mural on the front lawn. It's a little hard to miss. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When:  Friday, September 15, 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. (For the record, in 1986, Crown Point high school had 1,774 students.)

WEATHER: A warmer Friday night, for those of you who like it like that (you annoying hot weather lovers). Low-80s during the day Friday and Mid-70s for the kickoff. It will be a little warm on the artificial turf at Portage, which has been refurbished. Notoriously unreliable long range weather forecasts say this late September warm spell is expected to last through the end of the month. Portage teams probably like it. I think this is what they used to call "Indian Summer."

PARKING: This is a big school and they have a big school parking lot. You could freeze it over in the winter and have a National Hockey League team in the lot east of PHS building. For those of you who tend to arrive late (like me) you may have to walk a little, but you won't be across the street or in someone's neighborhood. Portage has been good the last two years and some of the big crowds of the 1990s may be returning here. On a warm night, against a familiar foe, this should be a fan friendly night.

WHAT's AT STAKE: Crown Point lost the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) opener to Merrillville on Sept. 1, but here is their chance to move up in the DAC standings. Portage and Valpo are both 2-0 in league play and these are CP's next two foes, so here's the Bulldogs' chance to get to the top of the league. Portage has played three road games already, so most everybody there should be happy to have a home game on a good night. The Indians have lost 12 of their last 14 games at home. Ouch.

Portage was 6-4 last year, but only 2-4 at home. They have won six of their last seven games away from home. I can't explain it. Don't even have a guess. Portage leads this series 31-25, but this isn't really a rivalry like CP has with Merrillville and Lake Central or like Portage has with Chesterton and Valparaiso. Before 1973, CP, which dates back to the late 1800s, and Portage met in varsity football just three times.

Had CP not joined the DAC in the early 1990s, I don't think these two schools would schedule each other.


Portage (2-2)
6-4 (2016), 1-10 (2015), 1-9 (2014), 6-4 (2013)
Coach Darren Rodriguez (2nd season, 8-6) DAC games in CAPS

8-18 (L) 45-47 at Mishawaka (2-2)
8-25 (L) 7-20 Lowell (4-0)
9-1 (W) 40-14 at LAKE CENTRAL (1-3)
9-8 (W) 28-21 at MERRILLVILLE (1-3)

9-15 (F) CROWN POINT (2-2)
9-22 (F) CHESTERTON (2-2)
9-29 (F) at MICHIGAN CITY (2-2)
10-6 (F) VALPARAISO (4-0)
10-13 (F) LaPORTE (2-2)

PORTAGE SCHEDULE: On the surface you can say that Portage playing 4A No. 3 Lowell (4-0) and 4A No. 13 Mishawaka (2-2), helped get them ready for the DAC season. I'm not sure. Mishawaka's running attack is something you don't find in the DAC outside of LaPorte, maybe. The Cavemen are a solid team, but then don't play like LC and Merrillville and neither does Lowell. I've never seen a team lose to two 4A teams and then win a 5A-6A league, but it certainly could happen with this year's Indians. Keeping in mind that Class 6A schools don't get to play anybody they want. Most small schools would never schedule a school as large as Portage. Unless the Indians want to travel to Illinois for a game (which they used to do), the two-game Portage pre-season of Lowell and Mishawaka is about as good as they're going to find.



PORTAGE - I'm guessing Portage football people would rather not always be talking about senior quarterback Anthony Maceo, but he does have 12 touchdowns in four games, including five each against Mishawaka and Lake Central.

What everybody tries to do, I guess, is to surround him and make him throw the ball. But four teams have tried and he has 12 touchdowns running it. Maceo was just 40 of 116 last season. But everyone wants to make Anthony throw. Few teams actually can take Portage out of their running game and the Indians can use up a lot of the clock. Maceo (5-10, 185), a varsity wrestler, carried the ball 238 times for 1,450 yards and 14 TDs last year.

Maceo's 'personal protector' and first option is senior fullback Cody Russell (5-10, 230) and his No. 1 receiver is senior Greg Milledge (6-0, 190). Angel Sanchez (6-1, 175) is a very fast receiver, but Maceo is a sub-50% (16 of 45, 290 yards) passer and has trouble getting the ball to them.

Portage has nine players back from last year's defense, but they have given up some rushing yards, 300 to Mishawaka. That's the key on this night. Can the Indians, led by linebacker Drake Guerrero (50 tackles) and defensive end Jimmy Craven (6-3, 210) stop CP from running the ball?

Portage seems to play some college-style 4-2-5 defense, almost daring you to run the football. I think they may shake that up on this night because they're a little undersized and CP is not.

(6A) Crown Point (2-2)
6-6 (2016), 1-9 (2015), 8-2 (2014), 6-4 (2013)
coach Kevin Enright (6th year) 31-26...all kickoffs at 7 p.m.
Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) league games in CAPS
8-18 (L) 13-27 at 4A Lowell (4-0)
8-25 (W) 35-6 (4A) Highland (1-3)
9-1 (L) 26-34 (6A) MERRILLVILLE (1-3)
9-8 (F) 45-0 (6A) at LAKE CENTRAL (1-3)

9-15 (F) at 6A PORTAGE (2-2)
9-22 (F) 6A VALPARAISO (4-0)
9-29 (F) 6A LaPORTE (2-2)
10-6 (F) at CHESTERTON (2-2)
10-13 (F) MICHIGAN CITY (2-2)

Class 6A Sectional

...with Merrillville, Portage and CP

Crown Point lost to Merrillville two weeks ago, but they can get back to the top of the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) with wins the next two weeks against Portage and Valpo.
I didn't think the first half of the CP schedule was soft, but the second half will be a hard road. Good news: After this week, they can put the bus in the shop for maintenance. CP has three of the last four games at home.


I didn't see Crown Point's hard running attack coming. The Bulldogs gained 1,896 yards rushing in 12 games last season. That's pretty good. 158 per game. But what is happening now? Crown Point has 972 yards (150 carries) in four games. Right at 243 yards per game and 6.5 yards per cary. The big offensive line anchored by center Jacob Keaveney (6-2, 320) has not only gained yards, they've kept the other teams' offense on the bench.

Quarterback Ryan Bolda is under 50% passing, but he is 39 of 85 for 547 yards, four TDs and just three interceptions. Senior Eric Mahaffey has 16 catches for 204 yards, but Brett Schoettle has 173 yarsd and two TDs in 12 catches. Halfback Tyler Gomez has 499 yards and eight TDs on 85 carries and backup Scott Mills has 185 yards and two TDs on 21 carries. The big number is 150 carries (37 a game) in four games. If you can run the ball 35-40 times a game, you're going to win most of those games because the other side isn't going to have the ball.


But the spotlight will be on the CP defense Friday.

Can they keep Anthony Maceo surrounded and make him throw the ball? CP has allowed just 409 yards rushing on 132 carries and they have allowed only 25 completed passes in 59 attempts. But here's a guy with 12 TDs in four games on the other side.

CROWN POINT (2-2) at PORTAGE (2-2)

Portage Stadium: capacity 5,000


SAGARIN RATINGS: This game is rated even on the computer. That almost never happens. I thought Portage might be favored here. The Indians defeated Merrillville, while CP lost to the Pirates. Both teams defeated Lake Central. Both sides lost to Lowell. To be honest, I can't explain why this is an even game. Portage lost to 4A No. 3 Lowell and Mishawaka, a Top-15 team in 4A. CP's margin of victory over Lake Central may have opened the computers electronic eyes.



PORTAGE (09-15-2017) I think this is a good matchup for Crown Point. CP's defense is well-suited to stop the run and Portage will have trouble scoring the way they have most of the season. CP gets on the board late in the first quarter on a short pass from Ryan Bolda to Ben Fridrich. CP gets a field goal from Fidrich to up the count to 10-0 before Portage finally scores on a short run by Maceo.

A CP interception sets up a Tyler Gomez TD in the third period and Portage is frustrated multiple times trying to rally. The Indians' defense stops the Bulldogs short of the goal line more than once, but CP adds three field goals in the second half.

A Maceo to Greg Milledge TD pass is a consolation score.

CP runs for 200 yards again and Maceo is held to less than 100 yards rushing. These teams are fairly even on paper, but CP's offensive line against a somewhat undersized Portage front makes a difference here.

CROWN POINT 26, Portage 14

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Revised: September 15, 2017 .