Week 6 - Football Game of the Week Preview

Crown Point (2-3, 1-2 DAC)
 at Valparaiso (3-2, 2-1 DAC) 

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


I don't know about a pretty sunset but there should be a good size crowd at
Valparaiso Friday night for the annual battle with Crown Point. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When:  7:00 p.m. Friday, September 23, 2016
Where:  Valparaiso High School - 2727 Campbell ST, Valparaiso, IN. 

TV/Radio/Internet: No live radio - Live Internet audio stream on www.USA-365.com.

Enrollment: CP - 2,664; Valparaiso - 2,065.

WEATHER: Another summer like week in the fall and it will still be far too warm for football Friday. Daytime temperatures in the mid-80s, about 30 degrees hotter than it should be for a good football game. There is a chance of rain. VHS has artificial turf. A good night for those in the stands. But this 'endless summer' is tough on the players and coaches. It needs to get much cooler, but it won't this week.

PARKING: Viking Field seats about 4,500 and if there was a capacity crowd, there wouldn't be enough parking at VHS to hold all the cars. But I'm guessing the attendance will fall somewhat short of capacity so there will be plenty of room for you. The difficulty at Valpo is not parking. It's Campbell Street which is a two-lane residential street in a neighborhood. If you get there late, you will have to wait.

WHAT's AT STAKE: Valparaiso (3-2, 1-2 DAC) is one game behind LaPorte (5-0, 3-0 DAC) in the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC), as is Merrillville (3-2, 2-1). Crown Point (2-3, 1-2 DAC) is not out of the DAC race, but they have to win every remaining game the rest of the way. I don't believe anyone has ever won the DAC with two league losses and it's probably not going to happen this year either. But the Bulldogs could tie for the DAC crown if they win four in a row starting Friday. The winner of the Crown Point-Valparaiso game takes home the County Seat trophy. Valpo has possession of the trophy at this point. If CP wins, watch for the presentation to the Bulldogs at the center of the field immediately after the game.

The HISTORY: I do not know when Valparaiso actually began playing high school football. The web site Northern Indiana Football.com says the Vikings began playing in 1921. But on the same web site, Crown Point is listed as playing in the year 1904. That year, the Bulldogs played Hammond Baptist, Hammond hgh, Lowell and Valparaiso. CP defeated Vapo 12-0 on Nov. 5, 1904. Valparaiso has long been the crown jewel of Porter County. They have their own University, opened in 1859. Their own radio station. For years, their own newspaper. Valparaiso high school, or VHS, opened in 1859 and had 400 students even back then. Almost 1700 people lived in Valparaso in 1860.

Valpo high is a charter member of the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) and while Hobart has won more league titles, Valparaiso and Merrillville have certainly become the marquee teams of the DAC. The Vikings were 13-2 in 2001 and 12-2 in 2002 and 13-1 in 2010 under Hall-of-Fame coach Mark Hoffman. So when the Vikings are 'just' 7-3 like they were last year, folks expect more out of the team now coached by Mark Coyle.

'More' could be defined as a DAC football title, but that's probably not gong to happen this year since the Vikings (3-2, 2-1 DAC) are already a game down to LaPorte (5-0, 3-0) after a 38-37 loss to the Slicers. But the Vikings haven't won a football sectional title in six years, and if they get a break in the tournament draw next month, it's an outside possibility this year.

The 'Distant' Replay

CP 'D' shuts down Valpo 26-3

Team 1 2 3 4 F
Valparaiso (3-3, 3-1) 3 0 0 0 3
CROWN POINT (3-3, 1-3) 7 9 0 10 26

Friday, September 27, 2013,  71 degrees & clear, Duneland Athletic Conference at CROWN POINT, IN.

1st Qtr VALPARAISO (3-0) Caleb Dawson, 21-yard field goal. 45-yard drive, 8 plays. 8:56 left.
Tristan Peterson, 40-yard run. 73-yard drive, 7 plays. Evan Markowitz kick. 4:52 left.
2nd Qtr:
CP (9-3) Blocked punt by Artie Equihua, out of the end zone. SAFETY. 7:41 left.
CP (16-3) Tristan Peterson, 50-yard run. Evan Markowitz kick. 3:40 left.
3rd Qtr: No scoring.
4th Qtr: CROWN POINT (23-3) Tristan Peterson, 46-yard run. Evan Markowitz kick. 9:15 left.
CP (26-3) Evan Markowitz, 24-yard field goal. 3:51 left.

VALPO (30 carries, 87 yards fumble) DaCota Overland (HB) 11 carries, 11 yards; Bryce Crook (HB) 10-71 yards, fumble; David Hittinger (QB) 7-5 yards, fumble, David Fox (HB) 1-0 yards;
CP (26 carries, 217 yards, 3 TDs) Tristan Peterson (HB) 18-178 yards, 3 TDs, Jake Jatis (QB) 7-34 yards; Jake Kocher (WR) 1-5 yards.

VALPO: David Hittinger (QB) 9 of 22, 137 yards, one INT;
CROWN POINT: Jake Jatis (QB) 7 of 15, 72 yards.

VALPO: Michael Rastovic (WR) 4- 118 yards; Alex Healy (WR) 3-15, DaCota Overland (HB) 2-15 yards, Bryce Crook (HB) 1-0 yards;
CROWN POINT: Jake Kocher (WR) 4-17 yards, TD; Morgan Kral (TE) 1-35 yards, Tristan Peterson (HB) 2-20 yards.

VALPO (4) one interception, 2 fumbles, blocked punt. CROWN POINT (1) fumble.


CROWN POINT: The oddity of this game is that Valparaiso came to CP with a three-game winning streak, where the Bulldogs waited for them riding a three-game losing streak. And when the Vikings jumped to a quick 3-0 lead, CP had to keep the faith. But the Bulldogs began to run the ball successfully with halfback Tristan Peterson and the game turned in their favor. The big play was a blocked punt by Artie Equihua in the end zone, giving CP a safety and a 9-3 lead. Valpo punted and CP scored again to take a 16-3 lead at the half.

Valpo didn't win another game, finishing at 3-7 in 2013. CP's win started a 4-game winning steak, which ended with a 9-6 sectional loss in the mud at Lake Central. But the Bulldogs would come back and go 8-2 in 2014. Artie Equihua is now a freshman defensive back at Wabash College (2-0), one of four CP graduates on the football roster. Junior Tyler Downing of Crown Point has run 29 times for 200 yards in two games so far. Equhiua has gotten in late and made three tackles for Wabash, rated 12th in NCAA DIvision III. Wabash sophomore Billy Bernhardt was also a star safety for Crown Point and former Bulldog Salih Muhammad is a freshman wide receiver at Wabash.

Valpo Update:

Valpo's only losses are to 6A No. 1 Penn (5-0) and 6A No. 9 LaPorte (5-0) and that speaks for itself. The Vikings are a senior-laden team which graduated some key defensive players last fall, but has still come back strong with seven returning starters offense. The last two Vikings opponents have been whipped 29-0 and 34-13. Since the season-opening 27-7 loss to top-rated Penn, Valparaiso has scored a total of 140 points in four games. That makes you go back and look at the game against Penn, which is a rival of Valpo in Class 6A Sectional 2. In that game, Valpo outgained Penn 360-263 and ran and threw for 180 yards. The Vikings have scored 70 points in the first quarter in five games.

QB - Jake Leffew (5-11, 170) Junior:
Jacob started the year as a question mark and now he's an exclamation point with 49 of 77 passing for 618 yards, four TDs and just one interception. He was 19 of 27 for 180 against top-ranked Penn in his debut. If the Vikings can protect him, Leffew has shown he can make plays.

WR-CB - Jay Bisacky (6-4, 215) Senior:
One of the Viking co-captains, Bisacky has 16 catches for 327 yards on offense with four TDs. Jay was a regular defensive back last season with five interceptions. I'm not sure how much he's playing on defense right now, but I'm sure he'll be back there late in a close game. Bisacky also averaged 8.0 points and 5.1 rebounds on the Vikings' 20-6 basketball team last winter.

RB - Zach Jones (5-11, 215) Senior:
Jones is the hard running inside threat with halfback Greg Lichtenberger (54 carries, 343 yards) in the Vikings backfield. Jones has run 54 times for 467 yards and seven TDs. Close to the goal line, he gets the ball. Check that. Zach had an 80-yard run against LaPorte. That's also 13 TDs for the Valpo rushing tandem.


I don't know who's playing for Crown Point this week in the backfield after junior halfback Tyler Gomez and backup Scott Mills left last week's game with injuries. The Bulldogs' numbers do not make sense. In five games, they have 63 first downs and have held their opponents to 41. They have turned the ball over just six times in five games. But CP (2-3) has scored only 63 points all season and 12.3 points per game won't win much. The Bulldogs have allowed just seven points in the first quarter all year and only 21 in the first half in five games. CP's defense has allowed just 590 yards rushing in five games.

LB - Caden Watson (5-11, 185) Junior:
Watson was credited with 10 tackles last week, including eight solo tackles and two tackles for losses. On the year, he's the CP team leader with 55 tackles and two QB sacks, just ahead of senior Donald Schuch (50 tackles, 3 QB sacks), another Bulldog linebacker. The only thing Watson and Schuch haven't done this year is score TDs themselves.

PK-TE - Ben Fridrich (6-2, 225) Junior:
Ben Fridrich booted a career best 40-yard field goal in the fourth quarter last week to keep the Bulldogs close to Portage. For the season, he's 6-of-6 on extra points with field goals of 31 and 40 yards.

KR/DB Zach Stewart (5-10, 160) Senior:
I'm mentioning Stewart because, if the Bulldogs are without their top two running backs they may move Stewart back to offense where he played last year. The problem with that is Zach Stewart has made 21 solo tackles in five games and he leads the secondary with four interceptions.


at Viking Field - capacity: 4,500

Sagarin Computer rankings: Valpo by 9.

VALPARAISO - The spread here is based on the difference in the record and the fact that the Vikings have played Penn (5-0) and LaPorte (5-0). CP has faced no one with a record better than 3-2. In review, CP was favored by four last week and they lost by four.


VALPARAISO (09-23-2016) This is a tough one. CP will be short at running back and they have to shorten this game and keep Valpo's senior playmakers on the sidelines.

After a scoreless first quarter, Jake Leffew will get the ball to tall Jay Biscaky for a short TD and a 7-0 lead. The Bulldogs will get a pass interception by Zach Stewart and runback into Valpo territory where Ben Fridrich will boot his third field goal in three weeks. Valpo scores again in the third quarter on a run by Zach Jones, but the Bulldogs rally with a touchdown run by Grayson Lynk on an option play. Late in the game, Jones scores again and CP won't be able to rally.

The Bulldogs need to make several big plays to win here and they probably only have a couple.

Valparaiso 21, CROWN POINT 10

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Revised: September 23, 2016 .