Week 7 - Football Game of the Week Preview

Crown Point (2-4)
at LaPorte (6-0 DAC)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


LaPorte has won nine regular season games in a row, six in a row this year and five in a row at home. Crown Point will try to break those streaks Friday night in LaPorte County. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When:  7:00 p.m. Friday, September 30, 2016.

Where:  LaPorte High School, 602 'F' Street in LaPorte, IN 46350. Remember that Kiwanis Field (capacity: 4,500), where the Slicers play, is two blocks east of the high school.



TV/Radio/Internet: Live Internet audio stream on www.USA-365.com. WCOE (96.7) FM "The Eagle" carries all LaPorte varsity football games. (WCOE can only heard west of town in LaPorte and Porter Counties.)

Enrollment: CROWN POINT - 2,664; LaPorte - 2,009.

WEATHER: For week now I have complained about it being too hot for football. Well, it won't be too hot this week. Daytime temperatures will reach the mid-60s and should be in the high 50s by the second half. But it's raining. It was raining Wednesday and Thursday. Maybe it will stop by game time. Maybe not. Is rain better than 80 degree weather and high humidity? Let me get back to you on that one.

PARKING: LaPorte plays at Kiwannis Field, which is maybe a block from LaPorte high school. You'll see the lights as soon as you get to the high school. I always park at the school and walk to the game since the walk through the neighborhood is good atmosphere. It may be good atmosphere plus rain Friday. Kiwanis Field got artificial turf two years ago so the rain won't ruin the game. The renovation at Kiwanis Field included new bleachers, a new scoreboard and a new sound system. I have not been to a LaPorte home game since the renovation but reports are it's good. This was always a really good stadium to visit and watch a game in. The artificial turf will be a big factor tonight. There isn't a lot of parking but, even with the Slicers undefeated, there won't be a capacity crowd tonight after a week of rain. There's a lot of room for CP fans wiling to make the long trip to LaPorte County.

WHAT's AT STAKE: LaPorte needs to win to stay on track to win the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC). If the Slicers win their final three games, they win an undefeated DAC title. No one can catch them if they do not lose.
Crown Point can't see LaPorte in sectional play and they can't win the DAC so this game is simply to se if they if they can rise up for one night and top the team rated No. 9 in the state among big schools. I still think there is an offensive breakout game in the Bulldogs. We have not seen anything like it yet.

aPorte has been a city of about 22,000 people for the last 60 years according to census numbers. It's as stable a place as you can find in Northwest Indiana from a population standpoint. LaPorte is very much a factory and residential town, which means the size of the school has remained steady, creating strong traditions. LaPorte is the school with a state record eight baseball championship. Basketball has won 27 sectionals and eight regional titles going back to the start of the state tourney. Volleyball is a consistent power.

LaPorte teams are called the 'slicers' And the legend says it's simple. Almost 100 years ago (LaPorte had 15,000 residents in 1920), LaPorte was home to the US Slicing Machine Company. It's hard to imagine now, but the invention of equipment that could slice meet was a big deal before your grandma was born. Van Berklel invented the first meet slicer in Chicago in 1898 and he began the US Slicing Machine Company in 1909. The slicers revolutionized the way way meet was prepared, stored and served all over the world. When his company outgrew its building, Berkel moved it to LaPorte in 1917.

The US Slicing Machine Company became the Berkel Slicing company and lasted until 2001. And because it was the biggest industry in LaPorte, the company sponsored LaPorte athletics and LaPorte teams became known as the Slicers. Like Hobart's 'Brickies' name, the name is outdated since there are no brickyards or Slicing companies in Hobart and LaPorte anymore. But to my knowledge, there is no desire to change the nickname of the high school teams. LaPorte is a beautiful place most of the year, tree-lined and lush, very scenic in the fall. In the winter, the county is consistently buried in lake effect snow, but we don't have to talk about that. The drive to LaPorte on Route 2 or Route 35 is a highlight of going to games there.

The 'Distant' Replay:

LaPorte running game runs down CP

Team 1 2 3 4 F
LaPORTE (4-3, 2-3) 0 6 15 7 28
CROWN POINT (1-6, 1-4) 0 0 7 0 7

Friday, October 2, 2015,  61 degrees, Duneland Athletic Conference at CROWN POINT, Ind.

1st Qtr No scoring.
Qtr: LaPORTE (6-0) Gino Francesconi, 1-yard run. 67-yard drive, 7 plays. Bad snap on conversion. 0:51 left.
3rd Qtr: LaPORTE (14-0) Brennen Long, 17-yard run. 37-yard drive, 7 plays after onside kick. Gino Francesconi run. 8:51 left.
CROWN POINT (7-14) Jesse Martin, 1-yard run. 82-yard drive, 9 plays. James Priddy kick. 1:48 left.
LaPORTE (21-7) Chris Juszkiewicz, 72-yard run. 72-yard drive, 1 play. 1:31 left.
4th Qtr: LaPORTE (28-7) Gino Francesconi, 4-yard run. 68-yard drive, 10 plays. Casey Cornett kick. 3:46 left.

LaPORTE: Gino Francesconi (HB) 23 carries, 74 yards, 2 TDs; Brennen Long (FB) 19 carries, 121 yards, TD, Chris Juszkiewicz (HB) 20 carries, 140 yards, TD, Eric Mazany (QB) 1 (minus-7)
CROWN POINT (20 carries, 109 yards, TD) Jesse Martin (TB) 16 carries, 105 yards, TD; Grayson Lynk (QB) 1 carry, 3 yards, Salih Muhammad (TB) 2-1 yard.

LaPORTE: Eric Mazany (QB) 4 of 7, 53 yards; CROWN POINT: Grayson Lynk (QB) 7 of 17, 86 yards, Ryan Bolda (QB) 3 of 10, 61 yards.

LaPORTE: Scott Cooper (TE) 3-32 yards, Gino Francesconi (HB) 1-21 yards. CROWN POINT: Shane McCormack (WR) 4 catches, 70 yards, Trent Schoenborn (WR) 3-60 yards, Jesse Martin HB) 3-7 yards.

CROWN POINT (2) blocked kick, interception; LaPORTE (2).
Interceptions: Calib Yandick (LP), Blocked kick: Nik Ormsby (LP). Fumble recovery: Rionte Harrell (CP), Tyler Gomez (CP).



CROWN POINT: To see what CP is up against this Friday, you look back at last year to see what has become a typical LaPorte game. Look at the 'carries' statistic for LaPorte: 63. If the team you are playing runs the ball 63 times you will almost certainly lose because that many running plays keeps the ball away from you and keeps the clock running. The Slicers surprised Crown Point with an onside kick to start the second half and took control of the game, driving 37 yards on seven plays to get to a 14-0 lead. As the game went on, LaPorte kept the ball more and more and increased the score.

After Jesse Martin's TD cut the lead to 14-7, the Slicers and the clock just kept running as the visitors pulled away on Homecoming Night at CP. LaPorte ended he night with 21 first downs to match their 21-point win. This was the biggest win of the season for LaPorte. They came in with a three-game losing streak and the game was in doubt in the third period. But in coach Dave Sharpe's first year, this game pushed them over the .500 mark for good and they haven't looked back. Counting that victory 12 months ago,. LaPorte is 9-1 in their last 10 games. Gino Francesconi ended the year with 979 yards on 162 carries, scoring 17 touchdowns. He's a freshman wide receiver at the University of Indianapolis. Jesse Martin, who gained 108 yards rushing in this game, is now a freshman wide receiver at Mount Union College in Canton Ohio. Mount Union is the defending Division III national champion.

LaPORTE Update:

LaPorte lines up on many plays with two tight ends and three running bacaks standing side-by-side behind the quarterback Nolan Lorenz. The offense resembles some of the closed formation wingback offense Jimtown (where coach Dave Sharpe is from) runs and there's a touch of Griffith's wishbone (Bo Radtke is an assistant LaPorte coach) attack. The three backs side by side disguises who is the fullback Chris Juszkiewicz (5-11, 189), halfback Brennen Long (5-10, 196) and wingback Drayson Nespo (5-8, 160) and where they are going to attack the defense.

What works is that the Slicers can run a play around both ends with two lead blockers and a tight end out of the same formation. If they get any kind of push from the offensive line, they're going to gain yards on every play because they can bring a lot of blockers to the point of attack. What you have to guard against is letting someone like senior Scott Cooper (6-3, 230), a blocker on most plays, slip into the secondary uncontested. I think LaPorte runs a near perfect bad weather Northwest Indiana offense. They have five running backs with over 250 yards gained in six games. With seven blockers up front and a potential of four backs running the ball on any play, it's hard for them to lose yardage unless they mess it up on their own.

QB - Nolan Lorenz (6-2, 210) Junior:
Nolan Lorenz has been the key to LaPorte's success for the Slicers. He's rushed 47 times for 243 yards and five TDs, while passing just enough (14 of 19, 286 yards, 2 TDs and no interceptions) to get by. His ability to be mistake-free has keyed this team. LaPorte has seven turnovers in seven games and they have rushed for 316 yards a game. Lorenz' value is his ability to run LaPorte's three-back offense. The Slicers have 125 first downs in six games.

WR-DB-Punter - Owen Steiter (6-0, 183) Senior:
Owen Streiter wears a lot of hats for the Slicers. Defensively, he's been in on 50 tackles and credited with five pass deflections. Streiter has returned seven kickoffs for a 28.3 yard average and he's punted five times for a 33-yard average. Note that number. According to the Slicers official statistics. LaPorte has only punted five times all season. Streiter is a pass receiver, but he only has three catches (for 54 yards), largely because LaPorte has only thrown 19 passes all year.

RB - Brennen Long (5-10, 196) Senior:
Long has carried 81 times for 542 yards and 10 TDs in just six games. He's also the guy who 'leaks' out of the backfield and catches passes. Brennan has six catches for 82 yards and an 11th TD. Long is the Slicers' leading scorer and he's also run back four kickoffs for an 18.3 yard average. In LaPorte's three-back attack, Brennen Long seems to be the one who gets into the end zone the most.


Crown Point scored just seven points last week in the 21-7 loss at Valparaiso. It was the fourth time this season that the Bulldogs have scored less than 10 points and with a scoring average of 11.4 points per game, it's actually commendable the CP record is 2-4. CP has scored nine touchdowns in six games and two of these were scored by defensive back Zach Stewart on interceptions. What's really annoying is: Some of CP's offensive numbers suggest they should be scoring more. Last week: 15 first downs and just one touchdown. Against Portage on September 16: 11 first downs and no touchdowns. At Mishawaka on August 26: 14 first downs and one TD. For the season: 78 first downs (13 per game), just eight turnovers and only those seven touchdowns. CP has drawn just 28 penalties in six games. The statistics suggest that an offensive breakthrough is coming. But, in the interest of full disclosure, CP has scored 164 points in the last two seasons (16 games). I know I went to public school, but that's a little more than 10 points a game and obviously, you can not win many football games with 10 points.

QB - Grayson Lynk (6-4, 185) Senior:
Without injured tailback Tyler Gomez, CP ran the big QB last week and had success with 13 carries for 69 yards, including a 38-yard run. Against a tough Valpo defense, Lynk was only 13 of 36 passing, but he did post 157 yards through the air and completed passes to five different receivers. I'd expect to see Lynk run the ball a little more if the weather is bad this week. Eventually yards and first downs turn into TDs. At least I hope they do.

WR - Leo Radiceski (6-1, 190) Senior:
In five games, Leo Radiceski had caught two passes for 20 yards. Last week at Valparaiso, Leo caught six passes for 70 yards. I don't know why this happened, but we'd like to see more of it. Again, the Bulldogs gained 263 yards last week, recorded 15 first downs and scored just one touchdown. Statistically, those numbers don't make sense. There's still more potential in the Bulldog passing attack, even this late in the season.

DB - Sam Krutz (6-1, 170) Sophomore:
Sam Krutz was in on a season-high 14 tackles last week at Valparaiso, including nine solo tackles. For the season, Krutz has 39 tackles including 21 solo stops. The Bulldogs defense did give up 357 yards last week at Valpo, which has the most balanced offense in the DAC. But CP was never out of the game (a 21-7 final) and the defense has allowed just 14.2 points per game this season. If you hold teams to 14-21 points per game, obviously you have a chance to win.

CROWN POINT (2-4) at LaPORTE (6-0)
at Kiwannis Field - capacity: 4,500 in LaPorte

Sagarin Computer rankings:  LaPorte by 15.

LaPORTE - The spread here is modest considering the won-loss records of the two teams. LaPorte has defeated Merrillville and Valparaiso, two teams that have defeated CP. To be honest, the 36.2 points per game LaPorte has recorded balanced against the 11.7 that CP is averaging suggests a larger LaPorte win. But, on the computer, the Bulldog defense apparently doesn't figure to give up 36 points.


LaPORTE (09-30-2016) The Bulldogs will find that they can run the ball some on LaPorte as most (1,113 rush yards allowed in 6 games) and they will get on the board early on a TD run by quarterback Grayson Lynk. CP will be somewhat successful in the field position battle, making LaPorte go the length of the field and the Slicers won't tie the game until Chris Juszkiewicz gets into the end zone in the second period.

The Bulldogs will take a third quarter lead on a Ben Fridrich field goal and an upset will be within reach. But LaPorte will mount a fourth quarter drive and Nolan Lorenz will score on a QB keeper to give the home team the win. This game is a good match for Crown Point and they again will stay close. CP needs two or three turnovers to hand the Slicers their first loss and LaPorte doesn't turn the ball over very often.


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Revised: September 30, 2016 .