Week 6 - Football Game of the Week Preview

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

Heading north on Valparaiso's west side, you can actually drive by Valpo high school at night, hardly notice the school and not see the 5,000-seat football field at all. But the lights will be on Friday when Crown Point comes to Valparaiso. (Photo by Mark Smith)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


When:  7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 21, 2018

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

TV/Radio/Internet: The only live outlet for is on www.USA-365.com.

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

WEATHER: Not sure. 90 degrees on Thursday. 65 degrees on Saturday. At what time Friday do we make the change?.
Hopefully, the rain stops early Friday, but it could be an interesting weather night. 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 travels to LaPorte, is for temperatures in the upper 50s by kickoff. That's the best I can do.


PARKING: Valpo has undergone a renovation in recent years, but it’s a school in a neighborhood and there’s never been enough parking for a major event. I don't know if a lot of people are coming to Porter County from Crown Point for this game. But I’d get there before 6:30 p.m. so you don’t have to walk far. The Vikings are on a winning streak and they should have a large home crowd.


WHAT's AT STAKE: Valparaiso is 3-0 in the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) so they win the league championship if they win their final four games. The Vikings and CP play for the ‘County Seat’ trophy, which you’ll see at the center of the field after the game. CP has the trophy after they topped Valpo 21-6 last September. The Vikings were 8-2 last season and their only regular season loss was at Crown Point. If you are a Valparaiso senior football player, you don’t need to be reminded of that.

The HISTORY: Valparaiso (a purchase of land by the U.S. government from the Potawatomi Indians in October of 1832), is probably older than any other community in Northwest Indiana. But, like many places in the United States, it is named after something that preceded it.


The 'original' Valparaiso, or Valle Parriso (which means "Paradise Valley" in Spanish), is Valparaiso, Chile, a coastal city of a quarter million people which dates back to the 1500s, long before anybody even thought about America.

We may not think of it that way because we live here, but Valparaiso has always been a ‘college town’, home of the 4,000-student Valparaiso University, established in 1859. Valpo high has always had an ‘air’ about it, I think because of the university. High standards. High expectations. In sports and everything else.

For many years I didn’t know that when you drive north down Campbell Street to the high school (2727 N. Campbell), which opened in 1972, you are driving past the site of its predecessor, the old Valpo high (605 N. Campbell), which opened in 1927 and is now Ben Franklin Middle School.

Valparaiso was one of the charter members of the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) in 1970 and 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.

Whether Valpo and CP are big rivals depends on who you ask. To me, Valparaiso’s long time rivals are Hobart, Portage and Chesterton. CP’s rivals are Lowell, Lake Central and Merrillville. CP and Valpo are no long in the same sectional in basketball or football, but with Valparaiso’s regular position in first place in the DAC the last two years, this game is a turning point to the 2018 season for CP.


Duneland Athletic Conference
1. Valparaiso (3-0) 3-2
2. MERRILLVILLE (2-1) 3-2
3. Michigan City (2-1) 3-2
4. Portage (2-1) 3-2
5. LaPorte (2-1) 2-3
6. CROWN POINT (1-2) 2-3
7. Lake Central (0-3) 2-3
8. Chesterton (0-3) 1-4

Valparaiso 23, Chesterton 0
LaPorte 28, Lake Central 13
Michigan City 42, Merrillville 21
Portage 14, CROWN POINT 12

Portage (3-2) at Chesterton (1-4)
Lake Central (2-3) at Michigan City (3-2)
Merrillville (3-2) at LaPorte (2-3)

Chesterton (1-4) at Lake Central (2-3)
Michigan City (3-2) at Portage (3-2)
Valparaiso (3-2) at Merrillville (3-2)
CROWN POINT (2-3) at LaPorte (2-3)


DAC COMMENTS: The overall strength of the DAC can be questioned this season. No one has a record of better than 3-2 after five games. The one exception may be Valparaiso, which had two road losses to Top-10 teams early and now is on a winning streak. LaPorte is still in the conference race even though they began the season 0-3. The LaPorte-Merrillville game this week will explain a lot. Merrillville lost by 21 last week and they obviously aren’t 21 points worse than Michigan City. I don't know how much MC and LaPorte care about the DAC championship at this point because they are in Class 5A and their playoff bracket is much softer than the other six teams listed here, which are in the 6A playoffs.

(6A) Valparaiso (3-2)
8-2 (2017), 5-5 (2016), 7-3 (2015), 2-8 (2014)
Coach Bill Marshall (3-3) 2nd year (one game in 2017)/ DAC games in CAPS
8-17 (L) 3-21 at (6A) Penn (4-1)
8-24 (L) 20-29 at (4A) Mishawaka (4-1)
9-1 (W) 38-8 (5A) LaPORTE (2-3)
9-7 (W) 14-7 at (5A) MICHGAN CITY (3-2)
9-14 (W) 23-0 at CHESTERTON (1-4)
9-21 (Fri) (6A) CROWN POINT (2-3)
9-28 (Fri) at (6A) MERRILLVILLE (3-2)
10-5 (Fri) PORTAGE (3-2)
10-12 (Fri) at (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (2-3)

Class 6A Sectional 2
10-29 (Fri) vs.
Warsaw (4-1), Chesterton (1-4) or Penn (4-1)


VALPO Update:

When you talk about football, you will be told that size isn’t everything. Size of players and size of the roster. Okay, but you line up against Valparaiso and the starting right guard John Hofer is 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds. Next to him, the starting right tackle Ben Scott is 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds. The tight end is Jake Evans (6-3, 230). Even the quarterback CJ Opperman (6-4, 185) is from the ‘big and tall’ club.

Defensively, the tackles Cooper Jones (6-5, 240) and Jacob Hruska (6-1, 240) aren’t small. The linebackers are Max Bukur (6-2, 220), Tyler Bukur (6-3, 215) and Peyton Kurtz (6-1, 210). The safety Reece Crossin (6-0, 200) is a three-year starter.

The 65 points allowed in five games becomes a little more understandable when you see the Vikings from ground level. A rookie, sophomore Dylan Dingman (6-1, 245) has 36 tackles to lead the Vikings and Tyler Bukur has 31. Cooper Jones has five tackles for losses. Tory Barton has five quarterback sacks as a blitzing linebacker out of Valpo’s 4-4-3 formation.

Valpo is daring you to throw the ball. Only Mishawaka (50 carries, 270 yards) ran the ball at all on them. The Vikings have 16 quarterback sacks and six interceptions. Valpo averages scoring a little under 20 points a game (only 12 total TDs in 5 games), but it's proven difficult to score 20 against Valparaiso.

QB CJ Opperman (54 of 111, 613 yards) has thrown just one TD in five games and he’s not a runner at all. Halfback Jesse Harper (5-9, 155) has 388 yards on 64 carries. Jackson Kurth (5-10, 185) has 367 yards on 73 carries. Nothing spectacular here.

Valpo is a big physical team that keeps the ball so you don’t have it. Michigan City scored on the Wolves' first possession against Valpo in week four and no one has scored on them since that time. Seven quarters. Almost two full games. No one has scored on Valparaiso.

(6A) Crown Point (2-3)
7-5 (2017) 6-6 (2016), 1-9 (2015), 8-2 (2014)
Coach Kevin Enright (7th year) 38-32

8-17 (L) 7-17 (4A) Lowell (4-1)
8-24 (W) 14-10 at (4A) Highland (3-2)
8-31 (L) 21-26 at (6A) MERRILLVILLE (3-2)

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

9-28 (Fri) at (5A) LaPORTE (2-3)
10-6 (Fri) (6A) CHESTERTON (1-4)
10-13 (Fri) at (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (3-2)

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


Crown Point should have won last week. They led Portage 12-0 and lost on a blocked kick return 14-12. But I wouldn't dwell too much on that game. Crown Point drew 16 penalties and lost 105 yards while Portage drew 12 penalties for 115 yards. I can't rate the calls, but CP outgained Portage 244-97.

Sophomore quarterback Will Pettit completed 19 of 38 passes for 206 yards, but he did have more interceptions (2) than touchdowns passes (1). Both wide receivers Tysen Cazy and David O’Toole, caught five passes and Cazy scored his third TD of the year.

Crown Point has not run the ball well for any two games in a row. On the season, CP has 339 yards on 126 carries. That may not improve against the Valpo defense, but CP has to try 20-30 runs just to set up the pass. Crown Point seems short of running backs and everybody knows senior Scott Mills (5-9, 175) is getting the ball a lot.

You may see some ‘Wildcat’ (no quarterback) option run formations here. The passing game is clearly improving, but the Bulldogs have to run the ball eventually. Failure at running the ball is not an option, especially the next two weeks.

Defensively, CP has been good. Except for the second half of the week three game at Merrillville, the Bulldogs have stopped most everybody.

Linebacker Ethan Potosky (6-0, 190) has 31 solo tackles and 16 tackles for loss in five games. Linebacker Adam Hillard (6-0, 190) has been in on 45 total tackles and outside linebacker Trevor Bieszczat (6-0, 170) led the Bulldogs with 11 tackles last Friday.

Senior Justin Robinson booted field goals of 26 and 27 yards last week and cornerback Railaun Cosey is averaging 23 yards per kickoff return.

Crown Point has scored just 10 TDs in five games. The Bulldogs’ three losses have been by 10, five and two points. Obviously, they are ‘on the doorstep’ of being a winning team.

Trouble is: they are on the doorstep of playing two Top-10 teams (Valpo is rated No. 13 in Class 6A, Michigan City is No. 8 in 5A) the next two weeks.

6A CROWN POINT (2-3, 1-2 DAC) at 6A No. 13 Valparaiso (3-2, 3-0 DAC)

at Vikings Stadium - Capacity: 5,000


SAGARIN RATINGS: Valparaiso by 27.

Ouch. I didn’t expect the spread to be that much. This is all about strength of schedule. Valpo has lost to two Top-10 teams (Penn and Mishawaka) and has defeated a third Top-10 squad (Michigan City). Crown Point's only wins are over Class 4A Highland (3-2) and Lake Central (2-3). The only state rated team they’ve faced is 4A No. 5 Lowell (4-1). For the record, CP was favored by seven points over Portage last week and lost 14-12. (Valpo was favored by 23 over the 2017 CP team, but those (2-3) Bulldogs beat the (5-0) 2017 Vikings 21-6. Go figure.)



CROWN POINT (09-21-2018) This could be a long night for Crown Point. It could be a long night for everybody because CP has thrown the ball 128 times in five games and they will have throw it here. The formula for a Bulldog upset is to hit a big scoring pass play, contain Valpo rushers Jesse Harper and Jackson Kurth and get two or three turnovers.

Something like that could happen. It did last year. (See note above.)

But let's shorthand this: I can't see CP as a team rushing for 100 yards against a Valpo defense that will have eight men up front most of the time. Spoiler alert: At the start of the 2018 season, the two games I thought CP had the least chance to win this year were at Valpo and at Michigan City.

Valparaiso gets three rushing TDs and they hold onto first place in the DAC.



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Revised: September 20, 2018 .