Week 6 - Football Game of the Week Preview

6A Valparaiso (5-0)
6A Crown Point (2-3)

CP is going to be home three times in the next four weeks and its a big one this Friday against undefeated Valparaiso. (Photo by Mark Smith)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


When:  7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 22, 2017

Where:  Crown Point High School, 1500 South Main (one mile south of the CP downtown square)

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: VALPO - 2,150; Crown Point - 2,815.

WEATHER: If you like it hot. Not just warm, but hot. You're going to love Friday. For the second day in a row, temperatures are set to rise into the low 90s with high humidity. No chance of rain in the forecasts I see. I'm old and I don't ever remember it being this hot this late in September and I sure don't want to see a football Friday with weather like this. The sun sets before 7 p.m. in late September, so the heat level will be dropping a bit on the artificial turf at game time. But don't expect any real after dark cool off because that isn't happening Friday. It might be down to 70 degrees by midnight. Maybe. This is going to be an uncomfortable night and unfortunately, it probably will affect the boys playing the game.

The only good news is that this heat wave won't last much longer. The projected forecast for the night of September 29, when CP hosts LaPorte, is for temperatures in the upper 50s by kickoff. That's the best I can do.


PARKING: With the warm weather and an undefeated season, Valparaiso should bring a big crowd, all dressed in green. So Crown Point fans might want to arrive a little early. There's a lot of parking at Crown Point high school, but folks from out of town will try to slide into the main lot just west of the school and north of the field.

This is a night when CP people may have to park where late arrivals like me usually end up, at the far north end of the lot, about 200 to 300 yards from the field. These next two weeks with Valparaiso and LaPorte will see the fall's biggest football crowds.


WHAT's AT STAKE: These two teams are not sectional rivals so there is only an outside chance they meet in regional play in November. This game is for the 'County Seat' Trophy', acknowledging the fact that CP and Valpo are the center of administration for Lake and Porter counties. I'd be lying to say that the award given out at the end of the game has fired up an epic rivalry, but the boys like to win trophies. Stay and watch the winner hold up the trophy at the end of the night.

The HISTORY: If there is a high school older than Crown Point in Northwest Indiana, it is Valparaiso, which has recorded graduating classes going back 143 years. The current Valpo high school (at 2727 North Campbell Street) opened in 1972, but an earlier version of VHS existed at 605 North Campbell since 1927. I believe that is Ben Franklin Middle School now. I do not know where Central Elementary school is in Valpo, but that is said to be the original site of the original Valparaiso high school back in 1874.

VHS Played football as early as 1905, but the earliest score I can find is a 12-0 Crown Point victory over Valparaiso on November 5, 1904. Warsaw Played Valpo in 1907. There is a record of a Valparaiso-LaPorte football game on October 8, 1904, a game Valpo won by the odd score of 4-0. I'm guessing the forward pass had not yet been invented.

Before the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) began in 1971, the Vikings and Bulldogs opened the season against each other from 1940 to 1962. Valparaiso leads the all-time series 43-26 and the Viking won 21-7 last season. Three years ago, Troy Grady scored four TDs includng the game-winning score in overtime as the Bulldogs beat Valparaiso 27-24 in overtime.

Valparaiso was 5-0 in 2010 when they defeated Crown Point 10-7. Valparaiso has 491 wins all time, the 10th largest total of any NW Indiana high school. Valpo's all-time playoff record of 55-34 is 16th best among teams in this part (including the South Bend area) of the state. Only Hobart, Andrean, Rensselaer, Merrillville, Griffith and Lowell have won more state tournament games all-time than Valparaiso.

(6A) Valparaiso (5-0)
5-5 (2016), 7-3 (2015), 2-8 (2014), 3-7 (2013)
coach David Coyle (25-30) 6th year...all kickoffs at 7 p.m.
Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) league games in CAPS

8-18 (W) 12-7 (6A) Penn (4-1)
8-25 (W) 31-7 (5A) Mishawaka (3-2)
9-1 (W) 17-6 at (5A) LaPORTE (3-2)
9-8 (W) 17-14 (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (3-2)
9-15 (W) 14-0 at (6A) CHESTERTON (2-3)
9-22 (F) at (6A) CROWN POINT (2-3)
9-29 (F) (6A) MERRILLVILLE (1-4)
10-6 (F) at (6A) PORTAGE (3-2)
10-13 (F) (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (1-4)

Class 6A Sectional 2

...with Warsaw (2-3), Chesterton (2-3) and Penn (4-1).

VALPO - This is a very tough schedule including 6A No. 10 Penn and 4A No. 13 Mishawaka, 4A No. 8 Michigan City and 4A No. 11 LaPorte. The Vikings have had no easy games and just one against a team with a sub-.500 record. This is the first season Valpo has faced both Mishawaka and Penn in the pre-season. That's not a schedule I think they'll do long term because it requires too many trips to the east end of St. Joseph County. Valpo played Mishawaka and Penn at home this year so they travel to both schools in 2018, unless there are new opponents coming on line. I wouldn't want to play on the road at Penn and then at Mishawaka in any year. We've also had nothing but good weather this year, but any kind of late summer electrical storm creates postponements and some long miles in the big, yellow bus.

VHS takes on LC and Merrillville in the final three weeks and those two teams are down, so this schedule gets a lot easier for them. But a rematch with Penn (4-1) is almost guaranteed in sectional play.


For the time being, Vaparaiso has survived a serious injury to QB Jake Leffew (31 of 55, 350 yards, 2 TDs, 0 interceptions) who was hurt in the third game of the season. Reportedly, Leffew, who was the starting QB in 2016, has a knee injury. I don't know if he's out for the season, but I'm pretty sure he isn't playing in Crown Point this Friday. Backup quarterback Reece Crossin, a converted safety, is 17 of 40 for 275 yards, one TD and two interceptions. I'm going to assume that Crossin, a junior, has some experience at QB or they wouldn't have let him throw 40 passes in 2 1/2 games. He's also run 50 times for 160 yards and four TDs.

I'm thinking the Vikings want to maintain the illusion that they are a balanced run-pass team when they're much more comfortable running the ball with Crossin, senior Eddie Curry (45 carries, 229 yards) and junior Jesse Harper (63 carries, 355 yards). Curry (5-foot-6, 170) is, by far, the Vikings' top receiver with 20 catches for 282 yards.

If Valpo doesn't run behind sophomores Zach Milly (6-2, 310) and Carl Watroba (6-7, 295), it'll be a surprise. They throw a lot of 'safe' passes now. Tight end Jake Evans (7 catches, 42 yards) is the second leading receiver. The Vikings don't have to set the scoreboard on fire because they have not allowed anybody to score more than two TDs in any game so far.

Senor linebacker Riley Woodward (31 tackles) leads the defense and senior tackle Reece Staples (6-2, 240) has 36 tackles including 11 solo stops. Valparaiso is very aggressive defensively. They have 16 quarterback sacks, eight fumble recoveries and four interceptions in five games. The Vikings, who have not been scored on in the first quarter all year, have also punted 26 times. They are very patient waiting for the opposition to make a mistake, especially with the backup QB in the game.

(6A) Crown Point (2-3)
6-6 (2016), 1-9 (2015), 8-2 (2014), 6-4 (2013)
coach Kevin Enright (6th year) 30-26...all kickoffs at 7 p.m.
Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) league games in CAPS

8-18 (L) 13-27 at (4A) Lowell (5-0)
8-25 (W) 35-6 (4A) Highland (2-3)
9-1 (L) 26-34 (6A) MERRILLVILLE (1-4)
9-8 (W) 45-0 at (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (1-4)
9-15 (L) 10-27 at (6A) PORTAGE (3-2)

9-22 (F) 6A VALPARAISO (5-0)
9-29 (F) 6A LaPORTE (3-2)
10-6 (F) at CHESTERTON (2-3)
10-13 (F) MICHIGAN CITY (3-2)

Class 6A Sectional 1

...with Merrillville, Portage and Lake Central

CROWN POINT - Crown Point is in the toughest part of their schedule with undefeated Valparaiso (5-0) and defending DAC champ LaPorte (3-2) in back-to-back weeks. None of CP's three losses are games they could not have won, although overcoming the loss of starting QB Ryan Bolda in a road game last week would have been difficult. Valpo did overcome the loss of starting QB Jake Leffew in week three at Valparaiso and came out with a win, but that's rare.

What's odd about 2017 for the Bulldogs is that the back-to-back games with Lake County rivals Merrillville and Lake Central are usually pivotal to how the season will go and this year that is not the case.


Crown Point was fairly even with Portage last week, but when QB Ryan Bolda left the game in the second quarter, the Bulldogs did not have the offense to stay close in a 27-10 loss. I don't have any idea, but I'm going to assume that Ryan Bolda (43 of 94, 582 yards, 4 TDs 3 interceptions) will be OK to start at QB this week. Senior halfback Tyler Gomez (5-9, 170) is up to 618 yards on 107 carries and senior receiver Eric Mahaffey has 237 yards and one touchdown on 19 catches. Brett Schoette has 189 yards and two TDs on 14 grabs.

CP wasn't overrun defensively last week. They allowed Portage 285 total yards and nine first downs. But the Bulldogs gained just 204 total yards and seven first downs and it won't be easier this week against Valpo.

Linebacker Caden Watson made 14 tackles last week and he leads the team with three QB sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Ben Fridrich made his second field goal in the last two games at Portage and he'll be a factor against the Vikings.

6A No. 3 Valparaiso (5-0, 3-0 DAC) at 6A CROWN POINT (2-3, 1-2 DAC)

at Crown Point Stadium - Capacity: 4,800


SAGARIN RATINGS: Valparaiso by 23.

I can guarantee you Valparaiso won't win by 23 points. They haven't scored 20 in four of their five games. The spread comes from the two victories over Penn (4-1) and Mishawaka (3-2). CP doesn't have any wins like that. CP has only defeated Lake Central (1-4) and Highland (2-3), but they have been 'in' all five games. Check with me after the game. Valpo isn't winning by 23.



CROWN POINT (09-22-2017) This matches up as a low-scoring game. I think both defenses can contain both offenses. We may have a scoreless first quarter. It may be 3-0 at the half. Eddie Curry scores on a short pass and a long run to give the Vikings a 7-3 lead in the third quarter. CP won't have the physical edge at the line of scrimmage that they have in most games this year. Bulldog Ben Fridrich boots a short field goal after a long drive, cutting the lead to 7-6 going to the fourth quarter. I'm having trouble seeing CP drive down the field for the winning TD here. The Vikings have shut down everyone all year.

VHS takes over on downs and Crossin scores a late TD to make it 14-6. Crown Point drives down the field late and kicks another field goal, but an onside kick fails and the Vikings escape with their sixth consecutive win.

CP could grab this game with a late Valparaiso turnover, but the Vikings haven't been making them. This will be a conservatively played contest where Valparaiso escapes with the victory.


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Revised: September 22, 2017 .