Week 6 - Football Game of the Week Preview

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

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


When:  7 p.m., Friday, September 24, 2021

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

TV/Radio/Internet: No radio or TV.

Enrollment: CROWN POINT - 2,934; Valparaiso – 2,029.

WEATHER: Much cooler. Reality weather for this sport. The rise of the fall hits us with game-time temperatures in the upper 60s with second half temperatures in the high 50s.


PARKING: A big crowd is expected so don’t show up at 6:45 and expect to ease on in with no problem. The weather will be decent so folks who like football will head to CP to check this one out. A reminder to Valparaiso people. The earlier you get to this game, the shorter your walk to the stands will be. CP has plenty of parking, but this is a high attendance game so you want to get to Crown Point fairly early. Bring a jacket. You'll be glad you did.


Jacob Keaveny (72) and Tyler Gomez (42) hold up the County Seat Trophy the last time the Bulldogs won it by upsetting then 5A No. 2 Valparaiso 21-6 on September 22, 2017. (Photo by Mark Smith)

WHAT's AT STAKE: The winner of this game gets what is called the ‘County Seat Trophy,’ a traveling trophy that I believe was started by former CP athletic director Jerry Caravana.

The award refers to the fact that the cities of Crown Point and Valparaiso are the head of county government in Lake and Porter County. I think it might have been a spinoff of the ‘Old Leather helmet’ trophy that goes to the winner of the Lowell-Crown Point game.

You and I may yawns about these things, but youth teams love traveling trophies.

I don't know why. They just do.

I think there should be an award for the new Crown Point-Andrean game. Maybe a big, wooden courthouse.

I’ve always thought there should be an award for the Crown Point-Lake Central game. Maybe a traffic jam of cars or a photo of a traffic jam on US 41. I don't know. I haven’t thought that one through.

Anyway, no matter who wins Friday, you will see their players carry the ‘County Seat Trophy’ over to their student section and hold it up proudly.

While the rest of us just smile.


The HISTORY: Valparaiso is one of the oldest towns in Indiana. Purchased from the Pottawatomi Indians by the US government, the land that is now Valpo was originally located along the Sauk Indian trail that rode from Detroit into Illinois in the early 1800s.

Valparaiso was originally called ‘Portersville,’ and I’m sure glad that name didn’t stick.

But it was a surprise to me to learn that Valparaiso, which originally meant (‘Valle de Parisio’ or loosely ‘Valley of Paradise’) in old Spanish, is named directly after a city and seaport in central Chile.

Valparaiso, Chile is a city of 250,000 that dates back to the late 1500s. It's true.
Valparaiso high school, which opened in 1871, and Crown Point dates back to at least 1882. Both had graduating high school classes in the late 1890s, and were here before much else was. I believe these are the two oldest high schools in Northwest Indiana.

Valpo and Crown Point go back more than 100 years in high school football, as well. Valpo and Crown Point go back more than 100 years in high school football.
The NorthernIndianaFootball.com web site has CP defeating Valparaiso 12-0 on November 5, 1904. The teams did not meet on a regular basis until Crown Point joined Valparaiso (Valpo is one of the original DAC schools) in the Duneland Athletic Conference in 1993. A loose count of games shows that Valpo leads the all-time series with Crown Point 46-23-1, but that’s just my amateur count.

Last week's game ...


Tiawhan, Johnson each go over 100 yds rushing
as Bulldogs overrun Portage 27-6

Team 1 2 3 4 F
CROWN POINT (3-3, 2-2 DAC) 7 6 0 14 27
PORTAGE (3-3, 2-2 DAC) 0 6 0 0 6

Friday, September 17, 2021 -  80 degrees and clear (at kick-off), Duneland Athletic Conference at Portage, Ind.

1st Qtr: CROWN POINT (7-0) Elijah Tiawhan, 6-yard run. Sammy Brewer kick.
2nd Qtr
: CROWN POINT (10-0)
Sammy Brewer, 27-yard field goal.
Sammy Brewer, 32-yard field goal.
PORTAGE (13-6)
Terrell Craft, 60-yard run. Kick wide.
3rd QtrNo scoring.
4th Qtr: CROWN POINT (20-6)
JJ Johnson, 3-yard run, Sammy Brewer kick.

CROWN POINT (27-6) Elijah Tiawhan, 2-yard run. Sammy Brewer kick.

CROWN POINT (55 carries, 326 yards, 3 TDs; 2 fumbles): Elijah Tiawhan (RB) 24 carries, 159 yards, TD, fumble; JJ Johnson (QB) 26-151 yards, one TD, fumble; Boedy Burandt (RB) 1-10 yards; Jason Kostick (RB) 4-6 yards.
PORTAGE (29 carries, 167 yards, one TD, 2 fumbles): Terrell Craft (RB) 23 carries 145 yards, TD fumble; Josh Bloom (QB) 8 (minus-2) yards; Nate LaBonte (WR) 1-2 yards.
CROWN POINT (5 of 11, 89 yards 0 TDs, 0 interceptions) JJ Johnson (QB) 5 of 11, 89 yards;
PORTAGE (12 of 34, 101 yards) Josh Bloom (QB) 11 of 32, 85 yards.
CROWN POINT: Seamus Malaski (TE) 1 catch, 55 yards; Landen Delich (WR) 2-20 yards, Randy Lach (TE) 1-10, Nate Woodrick (WR) 1-4 yards.
PORTAGE : Colton Wilke (WR) 4-60 yards, Devan Howard (RB) 5-25 yards; Terrell Craft (RB) 2-12 yards; Nate LaBonte (WR) 1-7 yards..
CROWN POINT – 415 yards, 26 first downs, 2 turnovers;
PORTAGE – 271 yards, 18 first downs, 2 turnovers.

PORTAGE (9-17-2021) This game was close at times on the scoreboard, but the numbers didn't tell the same story. Crown Point had 26 first downs at Portage and they ran the ball 55 times for 326 yards. Portage ran 29 times and threw 22 incomplete passes. Those respective numbers favored the Bulldogs because it kept the winning team's offense on the field. The Bulldogs had potential to get into the end zone three more times here as they did at Lake Central the week before.


  W-L Pts OP W-L Pts OP Streak
Merrillville 3-0 135 40 5-  0 223 75 Won 5
Valparaiso 3-0 115 61 5-  0 221 74 Won 5
Chesterton 2-1 76 36 4-  1 138 50 Lost 1
Crown Point 2-1 82 63 3-  2 117 98 Won 2
Lake Central 1-2 41 76 3-  2 111 76 Lost 2
LaPorte 1-2 59 118 2-  3 101 169 Won 1
Michigan City 0-3 62 116 2-  3 159 132 Lost 3
Portage 0-3 26 86 1-  4 73 118 Lost 4

WEEK (6) SIX - September 24
Chesterton at Portage
Michigan City at Lake Central
Valparaiso at CROWN POINT

WEEK (7) SEVEN - October 1
Lake Central at Chesterton
Portage at Michigan City
MERRILLVILLE at Valparaiso

WEEK (8) EIGHT - October 8
Michigan City at LaPorte
Valparaiso at Portage
MERRILLVILLE at Lake Central
CROWN POINT at Chesterton

WEEK (9) NINE - October 15
Lake Central at Valparaiso
Portage at LaPorte
Chesterton at MERRILLVILLE
Michigan City at CROWN POINT

'The Distant Replay' ...

Bulldogs rally in second half to upset 6A No. 3 Valparaiso 21-6 at home

Team 1 2 3 4 F
Valparaiso (5-1, 3-1 DAC) 6 0 0 0 6
CROWN POINT (3-3, 2-2 DAC) 0 0 7 14 21

Friday, September 22, 2017 -  81 degrees (at kick-off), Duneland Athletic Conference at CROWN POINT, Ind.

1st Qtr: VALPARAISO (6-0) (6-0) Peyton Krutz, 4-yard run. 70-yard drive, 17 plays. Kick wide. 0:00 left.
2nd Qtr
No scoring.
3rd Qtr
CROWN POINT (7-6) Tyler Gomez 1-yard run. 67-yard drive, 7 plays. Ben Fridrich kick. 1:20 left.
4th Qtr: CROWN POINT (14-6)
Tyler Gomez, 71-yard run. 71-yard drive, 1 plays. Ben Fridrich kick. 11:16 left.
Sam Krutz, 46-yard interception return. Ben Fridrich kick. 10:20 left.



VALPO (30 carries, 76 yards, 1 TD, one fumble): CJ Opperman (QB) 1 carries, minus-12 yards (one sack minus-12); Eddie Curry (HB) 9-19 yards, Jesse Harper (HB) 14 carries 58 yards; Peyton Krutz (FB) 3-9 yards, TD; Damon Haduch (HB) 3-10 yards.
CROWN POINT (29 carries, 149 yards, 2 TDs, 0 fumbles): Tyler Gomez (HB) 22 carries, 145 yards, 2 TDs; Scott Mills (HB) 2-4 yards, Ryan Bolda (QB) 5-0 yards.

VALPO: CJ Opperman (QB) 12 of 24, 128 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs; CROWN POINT: Ryan Bolda (QB) 7 of 15, 87 yards, 0 TDs, 1 interception.

VALPO: Trent Potis (TE) 4 catches, 53 yards; Eddie Curry (HB) 2-15 yards; Jesse Harper (HB) 4-41 yards; Peyton Krutz (FB) 2-19 yards.
CROWN POINT: Ben Fridrich (TE) 3-30 yards; Brett Schoettle (WR) 4-57 yards.

VALPO (1) Tyler Bukur; CROWN POINT (1) Sam Krutz

CROWN POINT (1) Anthony Haage (CB)
VALPO: 204 yards, 10 first downs, 2 turnovers; CROWN POINT: 234 yards, 8 first downs, 1 turnover.


CROWN POINT (9-22-2017) Just like this Friday, here comes Valparaiso into Lake County with an undefeated record and a foot firmly in first place. But CP just couldn't let it go. Defensively, they held the fourth-ranked Vikings to just one early TD and the Bulldogs broke through late.

For Tyler Gomez, this was his night. 22 carries, 147 yards and a 71-yard run to give the home team a 14-6 lead early in the final quarter.

Valpo went on to finish at 8-2 in 2017 after a sectional loss to Penn. Crown Point won 6A Sectional 1 and finished 7-5 after a regional loss to Penn. Penn lost the state championship game 63-14 to Ben Davis in 2017.

Since this night, Valparaiso has not lost a Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) game. The Vikings come back to Crown Point this Friday with a 21-game, four year Duneland Conference winning streak.

2021 (5A) Valparaiso (5-0)
8-1 (2020), 13-1 (2019), 10-3 (2018), 8-2 (2017)
Coach Bill Marshall (4th year, 36-6) Duneland Conference games in CAPS

8-20 (W) 35-7 (6A) Penn (1-4)
8-28 (W) 71-6 (5A) Hammond (1-4)
9-4 (W) 56-26 at (5A) LaPORTE (2-3)
9-10 (W) 49-28 (5A) MICH. CITY (2-3)
9-17 (W) 10-7 at (6A) CHESTERTON (4-1)
9-24 at (6A) CROWN POINT (3-2)
10-1 (6A) MERRILLVILLE (5-0)
10-8 at (6A) PORTAGE (1-4)
10-15 (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (3-2)

Class 5A Sectional 9
vs. Munster (2-3), Hammond (1-4) or Morton (1-4).


SECTIONAL CHANGES: Valparaiso is planning on a long playoff run. How do I know that?

Follow me here. In Class 5A Sectional nine, all four teams get a quarterfinal bye so Valpo won't be playing on October 22. The Vikings will then play Munster (2-3), Morton (1-4) or Hammond Central (1-4), a team they’ve already defeated 71-6 in the Sectional 9 semifinals on October 29. The Sectional nine title game on November 5 will also be against Hammond, Morton or Munster.
Valparaiso defeated Munster 69-6 in Sectional 9 two years ago.

Michigan City and LaPorte used to be in Sectional 9, but when the Hammond schools consolidated it created two new 5A schools. That bumped Michigan City and LaPorte into Sectional 10. So barring one of the biggest upsets in Northwest Indiana football history, Valparaiso will be playing for a Class 5A regional championship on November 12.


The Vikings are a now a Class 5A school that plays largely a Class 6A schedule so they count on playing in November.

The Vikings are not complicated.

Quarterback Logan Lockhart (6-2, 195) either runs it (41 carries for 323 yards and six TDs), throws it (31 of 52, 408 yards, 3 TDs, 2 interceptions) or hands it off to senior running back Hayden Vinyard (5-10, 185) who has carried 121 times for 913 yards and an impressive 13 touchdowns.

Valpo doesn't do much else. Of 221 running plays in five games, 162 have been run by Lockhart or Vinyard.

How does it work?

It must be the offensive line. Tackles Alexander Green (6-2, 255) and Mike Boone (6-4, 305), guards Troy Whiten (5-9, 230) and Greyson Schenck (5-10, 250) and center Zach Barrasas (6-0, 340) manned the front all starting the season and they’ve clearly met with success. I also see Matt Hofer (6-6, 230) and Jack Kuka (6-6, 200) in some highlights. It appears that the Vikings either go to six offensive linemen or double tight end sets a lot. Valpo isn't trying to trick you, but when they do throw, they average 17 yards per completion.

Senior Adam Schafer (6-0, 16) has nine catches for 123 yards. Vinyard has caught six for 93 yards and two TDs, while speedy Thomas Vo (5-8, 155) has 124 yards on just six catches.
Valpo has gained 2,053 yards in five games an even I can figure that’s 400 yards a game.

Kicking is a strength. Senior Tony Johnson (6-4, 195) has 12 touchbacks on kickoffs. He averages 35 yards a punt and is 15 of 15 on extra points. Johnson booted a 27-yard field goal in last week’s 10-7 win at Chesterton. The Vikings have tried only two field goals (Junior Jackson Kopp made the other one) all season.

Defensively, Valparaiso isn't especially big.

Senior linebackers Mason McMullen (6-0, 190), Dylan Kwiatkowski (5-11, 190) and Nate Craft (6-1, 190) are leading tacklers behind lineman Bassam Elaiyan (5-9 190) and Zach Brown (6-1, 200).
The Vikings have 10 quarterback sacks and just three interceptions.

Michigan City threw for over 300 yards against Valpo, but Chesterton with top passer Nick Mullen, was held to just 184 yards passing and 49 yards rushing.

The Vikings play with a lot of confidence. The senior class (assuming they began contributing as sophomores) is 26-2. Valpo lost the 5A state title game 27-20 to undefeated New Palestine in 2019 and they lost the semistate to Zionsville 27-9 last year. VHS has not lost to a Northwest Indiana team in four years.

Last week (undefeated Chesterton) was a big game for Valparaiso. Next week (undefeated Merrillville) is a big game for Valparaiso.

The ‘big game Friday night’ thing is something Valpo does all the time.

2021 (6A) Crown Point (3-2)
3-4 (2020), 6-5 (2019), 5-7 (2018) 7-5 (2017) 6-6 (2016)
Coach Craig Buzea (3-2, 1st year) 216-89 in 27 years
Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) games in CAPS
8-20 (W) 28-14 at (4A) Lowell (2-3)
8-27 (L) 7-21 (2A) Andrean (3-2)
9-3 (L) 13-50 (6A) MERRILLVILLE (5-0)
9-10 (W) 42-7 at (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (3-2)
9-17 (W) 27-6 at (6A) PORTAGE (1-4)
9-24 (5A) VALPARAISO (5-0)
10-1 (5A) LaPORTE (2-3)
10-8 at (6A) CHESTERTON (4-1)
10-15 (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (2-3)

6A Sectional 1
10-30 vs. (Lafayette) Jefferson (2-3), Merrillville (5-0) or Lake Central (3-2).


CP's defensive front of Zach Rausei (99), Niko Paic (52), Matt Woods (49) and Liam Begley (28) during the CP at LC game, 09-10-2021. (Photo by Mark Smith)

A LOOK AT THE SCHEDULE: Let’s assume we all know about Merrillville and Lake Central and look at the other Class 6A Sectional 1 member. Jefferson continues to roll up points if not wins, winning 34-14 at previously undefeated Kokomo (4-1) last Friday. Jeff averages 35.8 points per game, but they have allowed 33.4 points per game.

The schedule has been tough. Class 3A No. 2 West Lafayette beat Jefferson 27-21. Class 5A No, 10 Harrison (4-1) out scored Jefferson 56-41 on September 10. Last week’s win over Kokomo could be a turnaround. Jeff plays undefeated Logansport (4-0) on October 8.




CROWN POINT (9-24-21) The Bulldogs have played well the last two weeks, outgaining Lake Central 382-94 and out-stepping Portage 415-271. They have gained 47 first downs in the last two weeks and dominated time of possession 55:43 to 40:40.

To simplify all that, Crown Point has had the ball most of the time lately and the other team can't score when you have the ball.

So CP is coming off wins 42-7 and 27-6.

Crown Point’s option running attack has lifted junior back Elijah Tiawham (6-1, 215) to 519 yards on 82 carries.

Junior quarterback JJ Johnson (6-0,165) has grabbed 347 yards on 77 carries. Johnson, a first time starter at QB, is 39 of 72 passing for 524 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions.
Like Valparaiso, the spark is the offensive line led by center Nic Cicero (6-4, 280), guards Jackson Ruess (6-5, 300) and Logan Pokropinski (6-4, 265) and tackles Aidan Duerig (6-6, 295) and Jack Darlington (6-5 285).

With help from junior tight end Randy Lach (6-2, 195) and Seamus Malaski (6-5, 205) Crown Point has run 187 times this fall for 989 yards, an average of 5.2 yards per carry.

Obviously, CP has allowed 50 points to Merrillville and 47 points to the other four teams they’ve played so their statistics are going to be twisted.

CP, as always, does a lot of changing of the defensive formation just moments before the snap. Linebacker Matt Woods (6-2, 215) and Liam Begley 6-1, 215) have proven difficult to block.
The front line of Niko Paic (6-3, 295), Zach Rausei (6-4, 240) and Jeremy Brown (5-9, 220) have been strong enough to allow Woods (23.5 tackles), Begley (20 tackles) and outside linebackers Dom Sopczak (6-1 185 - 18.5 tackles) and Alex Skrabala (5-10, 190 - 14.5 tackles) to get a free shot on opposing running backs.

CP has allowed 618 yards rushing in five games (123 per game) on 148 carries (4.1 per carry).

Sammy Brewer kicked his first two field goals of the season last week. Brewer had eight field goals in his first two seasons on the varsity and he was 33 of 33 on extra points. Brewer is listed as being 14 of 15 this season but the one ‘miss’ against Merrillville was a try that was a bad or fumbled snap that I don’t believe was ever kicked.

So far, mostly good. But are the Bulldogs ready for the big, green team from the east?

Most everybody says they are until the game starts.

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

at Crown Point Stadium: “Bulldog turf” capacity 4,800


SAGARIN RATINGS: Valparaiso by 18.

Valpo’s not going to beat Crown Point by 18. Let’s just start there. Crown Point has been much better the last two weeks and it's not going to be a high scoring game. Valparaiso’s point scoring average (which matters on the computer) is exaggerated by the 71 points they scored on an outmanned Hammond team. And CP’s defensive numbers are twisted by the 50-13 loss to Merrillville.



CROWN POINT (09-24-2021) This will be a low-scoring game. Hayden Vinyard will run for a second quarter TD for Valpo and the Bulldogs counter with a Sammy Brewer field goal to create a 7-3 halftime score.

The Vikings get a pass interception setting up a Logan Lockhart TD to up the lead in the third quarter, but a second field goal by Brewer makes it 14-6.

CP's mount an early fourth quarter drive leading to a JJ Johnson TD, but the two-point conversion falls short leaving the Viking lead at 14-12.

CP turns the ball over on downs late and Tony Johnson kicks a late field goal.

Crown Point is 3-0 on the road but 0-2 at home so obviously to beat the undefeated, second-ranked Vikings in Crown Point would be the biggest Bulldog win of the regular season. It could happen if the Bulldogs can get two Valparaiso turnovers. But they won't.


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Revised: September 22, 2021 .