Week 5 - Football Game of the Week Preview

Crown Point (2-2)
at Portage (1-3)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith
Portage senior Scott Hansen (5) will be all over the field as receiver and safety for the Indians when Portage hosts Crown Point Friday night. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When:  Friday, September 20, 2019

Where:  Portage High School, 6450 US Hwy. 6, Portage, IN, 46368

TV/Radio/Internet:  Live Internet audio stream on www.USA-365.com.


WEATHER: Maybe for Friday’s game we could call it "Indian Summer." The heat is back. Temperatures are set for the mid to upper 80s Friday and that means the pre-game and early moments on the new artificial turf will be a little steamy for the players.

High school football games in Northwest Indiana used to begin at 7:30 (local time) and I would like schools to go back to that early in the year in the summer heat.

Games could begin at 6:30 in October and November so everybody could get home most of the time by 10 p.m. There’s no rule that sets the starting times of high school football games. Starting a game in mid-summer caliber August and September heat isn't really wise.

PARKING: I don't think we’re looking at a monster crowd Friday at Portage, but even if we were, Portage has a ‘big school’ parking lot just east and south of the stadium.

This will be a ‘Hometown Heroes Night’ night at Portage with the Indians wearing special National Guard uniforms. This is similar to the salute to the military that Valparaiso held last year ago when Crown Point played there.

This Friday there will be several police and fire department vehicles on campus and military and first responders will be honored before the kickoff.

If you have never seen one of these ‘honor’ nights, you should go to Portage Friday.


WHAT's AT STAKE: Portage has lost twice in Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) play so they won't be winning any part of the league championship. Crown Point is 1-1 and, with a win, they could be hosting league leading Valparaiso (4-0, 2-0 DAC) in a battle for first place next week.

Getting away from that, both of these teams are better than they have shown so far. We are passing the midway point of the season this Friday.

If these boys are as good as I think they are, it's time to start showing it.

The HISTORY: PORTAGE – Portage and Crown Point have little long-standing history.

While Portage began playing CP in varsity football in 1957, '58 and '59, the series didn't get going consistently until the two schools agreed to open the season against each other from 1973 to 1982. In 1977, Portage was 12-1 and one one of the early IHSAA state titles came under coach Les Klein.

Portage was a charter member (Portage, Valparaiso, Chesterton and Hobart are the original four DAC teams) of the Duneland Conference in 1970.

CP didn't join until 1992.

Portage has been mediocre in the last few years in varsity football. Not bad. Just mediocre. Average. In an eight-team big school league, nobody gets to win all the time. The rise of Michigan City in the last few years has been balanced by the decline of Lake Central. One had nothing to do with the other, but nobody stays on top of the DAC. There are too many large schools.

In 1994 the Indians rolled to 13 consecutive wins before losing 30-12 to Castle under coach Craig Buzea. That season started a run that saw the Indians go 59-15 in a six-year (1994-1999) span. The competitiveness of the Duneland Athletic Conference began to weigh on the football program, which has been below .500 in recent years.

These two schools split two games year and Portage leads the 60-game series 33-27.

This is the fifth meting of CP and Portage in the last three seasons. In 2017 and 2018, Portage won the matchup in week five and CP won the sectional playoff rematch. In none of the four meetings has Portage scored more than 14 points.

CP’s post-season wins have been by scores of 12-7 and 14-7.

With Portage moving to 6A sectional 2 and Crown Point remaining in 6A Sectional 1, this Friday’s game will most likely be the only meeting of Portage and CP this season.

The 'Distant Replay'...


Big Plays Power Indians to 43-22 win over Crown Point



Team 1 2 3 4 F
CROWN POINT (2-3, 1-2 DAC) 7 0 7 8 22
Portage (3-2, 2-1 DAC) 7 9 14 13 43

Friday, September 18, 2009 -  66 degrees at PORTAGE, IN

1st Qtr PORTAGE (7-0) Alvin Best, 72-yard pass from Zach Huston. 70-yard drive, 3 plays.  Carlos Guitterriez kick.  10:10 left
CROWN POINT (7-7) Joe Hopman, 4-yard run. 70-yard drive, 13 plays.  Brett Bayer kick.  2:38 left.
2nd Qtr:  PORTAGE (14-7) Fred Milledge, 52-yard reverse. 81 yard drive, 9 plays.  Guitterriez kick.  4:50 left.
PORTAGE (16-7) Safety. CP snapped punt over the head of punter Spencer Rapchak. 0:49 left.
3rd Qtr:  PORTAGE (23-7) Drew Keil, 44-yard return of fumble by CP's Cody Bacon.  Guitterriez kick.  7:40 left.
CROWN POINT (14-23) Mason Popovich, 1-yard run.  59-yard drive, 5 plays.  Bayer kick.  4:21 left.
PORTAGE (30-14) Zach Huston, 78-yard run. 78-yard drive, 1 play.  Guittrriez kick.  3:40 left.
4th Qtr:  CROWN POINT (22-30) Chris Klein, 10-yard run. 81-yard drive, 9 plays.  2-point pass Joe Hopman to Tyler Kral.  8:46 left.
PORTAGE (36-22) Justin Rhein, 57-yard run.  59-yard drive, 2 plays.  Bad snap on conversion.  2:31 left.
PORTAGE (43-22) Jake Dixon, 6-yard run.  30-yard drive, 3 plays.  Guitterriez kick.  1:02 left.

CROWN POINT (27 carries, 130 yards, 2 TDs, one fumble): Chris Klein (HB) 11-68 yards, TD; Joe Hopman (QB) 7-31 yards, TD; Mason Popovich (HB) 6-35 yards, TD;
Peter Parks (FB) 1-3; Travis Woosley (WR) 1 (-7 yards), Cody Bacon (HB) 1-1, fumble.

PORTAGE (35 carries, 335 yards, 4 TDs):
Zach Huston (QB) 17 carries, 143 yards, TD); Justin Rhein (FB) 2-67 yards, TD; Jake Dixon (HB) 12-62 yards, TD;
Fred Milledge (WR) 1-52 yards, TD; Marcus Jones (FB) 3-11 yards.

CROWN POINT: Joe Hopman (QB) 9-15, 128 yards, one interception:
PORTAGE: Zach Huston (QB) 3-8, 92 yards, one TD; Jake Dixon (HB) 1-1, 10 yards.

CROWN POINT: Austin Atherton (WR) 3-74 yards; Travis Woosley (WR) 2-18 yards; Peter Parks (FB) 1-5 yards; Tyler Kral (TE) 2-20 yards.
PORTAGE: Drew Keil (WR) 2-19 yards; Vince Fischer (TE) 1-11 yards; Alvin Best (WR) 1-72 yards, TD.

CROWN POINT: 388 yards, 3 TDs, 3 turnovers (one fumble, 4th down snap out of end zone);
PORTAGE: 437 yards, 5 TDs, one turnover.

PORTAGE (09-18-2009) If defense wins championships, neither of these teams showed they weren't winning any titles on this night 10 years ago this week. But it sure was fun. Especially Portage, who rolled up 430 total yards and six TDs. Crown Point wasn't stuck in the mud. Against an Indian defense that recorded four shutouts in 2009, the Bulldogs scored three TDs and, at the very least, kept the entertainment value high.

I’d like to tell you that the two teams rallied valiantly and won the sectional championship. They didn't. Portage lost four of their last seven and, while they did reach the sectional championship game, they lost 9-3 to Merrillville and finished at .500 with a 6-6 record. Chesterton was 5-5 in 2010 and 4-6 in 2011.

Crown Point lost four of their next five games and finished at 3-7 in 2009, but it was the last truly bad Bulldog season for awhile. CP was 8-4 in 2010, 9-4 in 2011 and 8-4 in 2012.

This game was not a peak at what was to come. It was just a run-up-and-down-the-field night when nobody in the stands asked for their money back.

2019 (6A) Crown Point (2-2)
5-7 (2018) 7-5 (2017) 6-6 (2016), 1-9 (2015)
Coach Kevin Enright (7th year) 43-39

8-23 (L) 19-21 at (4A) Lowell (2-2)
8-30 (W) 24-0 (4A) Highland (2-2)
9-6 (L) 24-27 (OT) (6A) MERRILLVILLE (4-0)

9-13 (W) 10-0 at (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (2-2)
9-20 (Fri.) at (6A) PORTAGE (1-3)
9-27 (Fri.) vs. (6A) VALPARAISO (4-0)

10-4 (Fri.) vs. (5A) LaPORTE (0-4)
10-11 (Fri.) at (6A) CHESTERTON (3-1)
10-18 (Fri.) vs. (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (2-2)

6A Sectional 1
11-2 (Fri.) sectional quarterfinal vs. Merrillville, Jefferson or Lake Central.




CROWN POINT - I can make an argument that Crown Point has played better in their two losses (27-24 to Merrillville and 21-19 to Lowell) than they have in their two wins (24-0 over Highland and 10-0 over Lake Central).

Some of Crown Point’s numbers are very good. The Bulldogs have only four turnovers in four games. None of them have been fumbles.

The CP defense has allowed just 344 yards rushing on 122 carries (just 2.8 yards per carry) in four games. The Bulldogs have allowed just 762 total yards and 33 first downs in four games. The Bulldogs are a defensive stop and a two-point conversion away from possibly being 4-0.

But, unfortunately, you don't get a rise in the standings out of ‘almost winning.’

CP apparently did not have receiver Tysen Cazy (14 catches, 213 yards, 4 TDs) last week and they definitely did not have starting offensive tackle Cael Begley due to injury.

Defensively, senior linebacker Jacob Woods has 22 solo tackles in four games, while end Collin Flavin has a team-leading seven tackles for losses.

Most everything suggests that CP should have a winning record. Let's see if suggestions turn into projections.

2019 (6A) Portage (1-3)
4-6 (2018), 5-6 (2017), 6-4 (2016), 1-10 (2015)
Coach Darren Rodriguez (4th year) 16-19, DAC games in CAPS
8-23 (L) 27-42 at (4A) Mishawaka (3-1)
8-30 (W) 35-9 (4A) Lowell (2-2)
9-6 (L) 21-30 at (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (2-2)
9-13 (L) 7-46 at (6A) MERRILLVILLE (4-0)
9-20 (Fri) (6A) CROWN POINT (2-2)
9-27 (Fri.) vs. (6A) CHESTERTON (3-1)
10-4 (Fri.) vs. (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (2-2)
10-11 (Fri.) (5A) VALPARAISO (4-0)
10-18 (Fri.) vs. (5A) at LaPORTE (0-4)

6A Sectional 2

11-2 (Fri.) sectional quarterfinal vs. Penn, Warsaw and Chesterton.




PORTAGE - Okay, Portage beat Lowell 35-9. Lowell beat Crown Point 21-19. Lake Central beat Portage 30-21. Crown Point beat Lake Central 10-0. See a trend? No? I don't either.

I think Portage has decent size and more than decent speed. Add a veteran quarterback in Zach Warchus (6-1, 170) and a versatile, multi-position star in senior Scott Hansen (6-0, 187) and I was expecting better than 1-3 so far.

Warchus had hard times against Merrillville (4-0) and Mishawaka (3-1), but he carried nine times for 212 yards and completed 11 of 15 passes for 174 yards against Lowell.

Hansen plays wide receiver (he’s caught four TDs in four games), free safety and running back and he’s all over the field. Sophomore Ty Swopes (5-11, 170) is a speedy slot receiver with QB skills. Swopes tossed three fourth quarter TD passes against Mishawaka.

Portage occasionally moves Warchus to wide receiver and puts Swopes at QB. They also can put Hansen in the backfield.

The Indians defensively have not done well against the run. Mishawaka ran for 289 yards on 52 carries against the Indians and Merrillville ran for 215 yards on 40 carries against Portage last week.

Portage’s defense has allowed 31 points a game. But with the exception for the game against Merrillville, the Indians have scored at least 21 in every game.

This is a scary team to play because they have better players than 1-3 and 0-2 in the DAC would indicate. But the teams that have beaten you obviously didn't care if you could scare.

CROWN POINT (2-2) at PORTAGE (1-3)

Portage Stadium: capacity 5,000



The obvious reason for this spread is that Crown Point defeated Lake Central by 10 and Portage lost to Lake Central by nine. Portage has played a tougher schedule than CP, but they have played two games (Mishawaka and Merrillville) where they have gotten run over. Crown Point has been competitive in every game.



PORTAGE (09-20-2019) Recent history almost screams that this will be a low-scoring game.

Matthew Walters will get into the end zone early for A 7-0 lead. Portage rallies with a TD toss from Zach Warchus to Scott Hansen for a 7-7 second quarter tie.

CP moves down the field late in the second quarter to set up a Sammy Brewer field goal for a 10-7 halftime score. The Bulldogs complete a drive near the goal line with a ‘Wildcat’ run by Davian Lira and a 17-7 lead. Portage rallies on a Warchus option run to make it 17-14, but a late field goal by Brewer and a pair of late defensive stops give CP the win.
CP needs 150-200 yards rushing and everybody has run the ball on Portage.

CROWN POINT 20, Portage 14

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Revised: September 20, 2019 .