Week 2 - Football Game of the Week Preview

2A Andrean (0-1) at
6A Crown Point (1-0)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


When: Friday, August 27, 2021;  Kick-off:  7 p.m.

Where: Crown Point High School - 1500 S. Main (one mile south of the downtown square), Crown Point, Ind.


TV/Radio/Internet: Regional Radio Sports Network – rrsn.com video – 6:30 p.m.

Enrollment: CROWN POINT - 2,861; ANDREAN – 413.

Andrean’s enrollment is a little surprising for those of us of a certain age. In 2006, the IHSAA directory listed Andrean as having 691 students. In 1986, the IHSAA said that Andrean had 1,083 students. Economic times have hurt the legacy private schools (Bishop Noll and Andrean) in this area. In 1986, Bishop Noll had 1,217 teenagers. Now, Noll is said to have 466 boys and girls. There is a thought that Andrean will move south, maybe to Crown Point and it will probably eventually happen, just as Illiana Christian moved from Lansing, Illinois to St. John as their enrollment declined. Whether they move or not, Crown Point and Andrean are natural geographic rivals and both athletic offices should like the gate receipts this game will produce.

WEATHER: Very similar to week one unfortunately. Very hot during the day and not much cooler early in the evening. There is a chance of rain during the day Friday, but the forecast (and it can change when it's this hot and humid) says showers should be gone by game time.

For fans, this Friday should be very summery and, by the second half, comfortable. But for players (and the old guy from the newspaper), it will be rough. Water is crucial and if you don’t start sucking down fluids by the time you read this, you might be getting helped off the field Friday night.


PARKING/TICKETS: If Andrean folks have never been to Crown Point high school (and there are probably some), parking is not an issue. There are good-size lots all around the school and you should be OK, although this is CP’s home opener and, if the weather is good, they expect a big crowd. The visitors' grandstand is good-size, but there is a significant distance from the nearest parking lot to the stands. Bring your walking shoes.


WHAT's AT STAKE: I don't know what’s at stake here except a much-needed win. Will this become a rivalry or will the two schools just look at it as a warm-up for conference play? Many years ago Crown Point would not play Andrean in team sports because the belief (somewhat valid) was that the school took students, and more specifically, athletes from Crown Point. Lake Central does not play Andrean in baseball even though it’s a 10-minute drive and both schools are quality in the sport.

But that was a generation ago. Now, Lake Central has more than 3,000 students and Crown Point high school is crossing that 3,000 barrier. Both CP and LC have more than enough boys. I do not know the enthusiasm level we’re going to see Friday. CP was very intense at Lowell. With Merrillville next week, how much does Crown Point have for their ‘other’ Merrillville friends?

The HISTORY: As most of you know, these schools have never met in varsity football.

OK, why are Andrean teams called the "59ers?" Stories differ between that being the address (5959 Broadway) of the school or that being the year the school opened, 1959. I believe it's the year since I'm told that there was nothing else in the 5900 block of Broadway when the school was built. So the address of Andrean probably could not have been 5959 Broadway at that time.

Either way, the phrase "59er" is a play on the National Football League's San Francisco 49ers who are so-named because of the history of the city of San Francisco. SF grew from a population of 800 in 1848 to 50,000 in 1849. Those who rushed in that year looking for a fortune during the California's Gold Rush days were called "49ers." So maybe, those who came to Merrillville's new private school in 1959 were dubbed "59ers," as they were looking for looking for educational and spiritual gold. Maybe. If that's not the truth, it sure makes a nice story.

Unless I’m forgetting someone, Andrean is the only Northwest Indiana school with multiple baseball and football championships. Class sports has been a blessing to the 59ers. Despite low numbers at times, the now Class 2A school has won 12 state championships in the last 20 years. The 59ers are the ‘gold standard’ in Northwest Indiana baseball and it was a major victory when Crown Point defeated them in June.


Andrean team sports championships
2004 - Andrean football (13-2)
2005 – Andrean baseball
2007 – Andrean softball
2009 - Andrean baseball
2012 - Andrean softball
2013 – Andrean football (15-0)
2014 – Andrean baseball
2015 – Andrean baseball
2017 – Andrean volleyball
2018 – Andrean baseball
2019 - Andrean boys basketball
2019 – Andrean baseball

2021 (2A) Andrean (0-1)
11-2 (2020), 10-4 (2019), 10-2 (2018), 8-4 (2017)
Coach Chris Skinner (6th year, 44-19) Northwest Crossroads games in CAPS

8-20 at (6A) 21-47 Merrillville (1-0)
8-27 at (6A) Crown Point (0-1)
9-4 at Grand Rapids (Michigan) Catholic (1-0)
9-10 at (4A) East Chicago (0-1)
9-17 at (4A) HIGHALND (1-0)
9-24 (4A) HOBART (1-0)
10-1 (5A) MUNSTER (0-1)
10-8 (4A) KANKAKEE VALEY (0-1)
10-15 at (4A) LOWELL (0-1)

Class 2A Sectional 33
vs. Bishop Noll, North Newton, Wheeler, Whiting, Boone Grove, Bowman Academy and Rensselaer


SECTIONAL CHANGES: Everybody here really needed Andrean to move up to Class 3A due to the IHSAA’s success factor. But the 59ers lost in regional play in 2020 and they stay in 2A where they are a mismatch for most public schools. Of the teams here, only Rensselaer has any realistic chance to win a sectional game.

Andrean Sophomore Drayk Bowen (34) vs. Lowell on (10-16-2020).
(Photo by Mark Smith)


Andrean gets your attention immediately. The 59ers line up with four wide receivers and junior Drayk Bowen as the running back. Four wide receivers on first down and almost every down. And Bowen, an all-state linebacker, who will drag your defenders or run over them.

The new 59er quarterback Scott Ballentine (6-1, 175) is an advanced player. In his high school debut last week, Ballentine, a sophomore, whose senior brother Robby Ballentine (caught a 39-yard TD pass last week) starts at wide receiver, was 30 of 42 for 254 yards and two touchdowns.

I don't have to tell you that a 15-year-old, who puts up those numbers against Merrillville is a major threat. Scott Ballentine played in six games (late in blowouts) as a freshman which suggests he’s been groomed to be the 59ers QB the next three years. He’s careful. Very good going to his right. Not really a running threat (so far), but not afraid of getting hit by a pass rusher. Robby Ballentine caught seven passes for 53 yards last week and 59er wide receiver Alonzo Paul (5-8, 170) caught 11 passes last week for 109 yards. Seven different Andrean boys caught passes from the new quarterback.

On defense, cornerback Billy Jones (5-10, 160) made 10 tackles last week. Trey Stephens (6-0, 175) made six stops in his debut at linebacker. Seniors Jaden Marsh (6-5, 210), a transfer from Crown Point and Dhmari Wright (6-4, 211) bring tall problems off the edge and Bowen (6-3, 215) sits in the middle of the defense.

Senior Nic Tovar (5-9, 180) was 3-for-3 on extra points and was a pre-season all-state choice as a Kicker.

I would dismiss the Andrean loss to Merrillville. The 59ers are short on depth and varsity experience, but they got some of that experience last week. This is a very talented team and they’re going to be in it to win it this Friday.

2021 (6A) Crown Point (1-0)
3-4 (2020), 6-5 (2019), 5-7 (2018) 7-5 (2017) 6-6 (2016)
Coach Craig Buzea (1-0 - 1st year) 214-87 in 27 years

8-20 (W) 28-14 at (4A) Lowell (0-1)
8-27 (2A) Andrean (0-1)
9-3 (6A) MERRILLVILLE (1-0)
9-10 at (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (1-0)
9-17 at (6A) PORTAGE (1-0)
9-24 (5A) VALPARAISO (1-0)
10-1 (5A) LaPORTE (0-1)
10-8 at (6A) CHESTERTON (1-0)
10-15 (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (1-0)

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


SCHEDULE CHANGES: Let's track Jefferson a little bit all season here. The Bronchos lost last week 27-21 to rival and Class 3A No. 6 West Lafayette, but it was a battle. Jeff halfback Brandon Norton (5-7, 184) gained 141 yards on 15 carries Friday and quarterback Brady Preston (6-2, 208) was 18 of 31 passing for 138 yards and he also ran 14 times for 88 yards and two TDs. Again, Jeff results don’t matter now, but in a four-team Class 6A Sectional 1 format, there is a high chance that Bulldogs and Bronchos will get it on.

This is the first ever Crown Point-Andrean game and here’s one thing that does to the Crown Point football schedule. Crown Point’s first four opponents are all within 10 miles of CPHS. Home or away, they have no travel issues until they leave the county in week five. I also think this will make it easy for students and fans to follow the team. There’s no real road trips in the first four weeks.


CP's Elijah Tiawhan (5) looks to bump and run in Lowell on 08-20-2021.
(Photo by Mark Smith)


CROWN POINT (8-27-2021)
If CP suffered no major injuries (and I haven’t heard of any) then week one of the 2021 Crown Point high school football season and the debut of new coach Craig Buzea went as well as it possibly could have.

They only led 7-6 late in the third quarter, but Crown Point never trailed and, as the game went on, quarterback JJ Johnson and tailback Elijah Tiawhan got the two man ‘read option' going and wore down the smaller Devils' front. Tiawan (6-2, 215) gained 36 yards on five carries in the second half and once he was established, the CP line was able to spring new QB JJ Johnson, who ran seven times for 91 yards and two TDs after halftime.

And when Lowell loaded up the defensive front to stop the two CP runners, Johnson popped a 30-yard fourth quarter TD pass to junior tight end Randy Lach.

But it all started up front with tackles Aiden Duerig (6-6, 295) and Jack Darlington (6-5, 285), junior guards Jack Ruess (6-5, 300), Logan Pokropinski (6-4, 265) and senior center Nic Cicero (6-4, 280), not to mention new tight ends Randy Lach and Seamus Malaski, who both caught TD passes in their debuts.

The odd thing about last week’s game was that Lowell ran the ball 48 times, usually a total that means you’re winning. But the CP defensive front led by tackle Nic Paic (6-3, 295), linebackers Matt Woods (6-2, 215) and Liam Begley (6-1, 215), and others held Lowell to 2.8 yards per carry and stopped the Devils three times on fourth down attempts.

I’m going to withhold total judgment until after the next two games. There are some serious ballplayers coming into CP this Friday night and the Bulldog pass defense will be tested as it was not at Lowell. But the Bulldogs and their fans were fired up at Lowell. The level of fire was surprising and I think it boosted the boys greatly on a hot night on the road.

Will the same atmosphere exist during the home opener Friday night?

2A ANDREAN (0-1) at 6A CROWN POINT (1-0)
at CP Stadium - capacity: 4,800

Sagarin computer ratings:  CP by 12.


I’m uneasy with this point spread. Merrillville did beat Andrean 47-21, but the 59ers led that game in the third quarter. The final score was misleading. Also, CP led Lowell 7-6 late in the third quarter before they busted loose. That final score was a little misleading, too.

There’s a lot of 6A vs. 2A thinking in this number. For the record, Lowell was a seven-point favorite over Crown Point last week and, as you know, the Bulldogs won 28-14.


CROWN POINT (08-27-2021) If CP suffered no major injuries (and I haven’t heard of any) then week one of the 2021 Crown Point high school football season and the debut of new coach Craig Buzea went as well as it possibly could have.

The Bulldogs played confidently even when Lowell was surging and they will do so again this Friday. But I’m seeing the 59ers take the lead early on a touchdown pass, maybe even sophomore QB Scott Ballentine to Robby (his brother) Ballentine. Big Drayk Bowen will get into the end zone for the 59ers as will pass catcher Alonzo Paul. But CP will get four QB sacks.


Merrillville ran the ball 29 times against Andrean for 216 yards last week and I think they wore down the 59ers. I’m seeing 40 carries, 200 yards rushing and three TDs for CP, two Sammy Brewer field goals and maybe a JJ Johnson TD pass to a tight end.

This game should go somewhat as last week’s game with the Red Devils, staying even or slightly ahead for a half. But that Crown Point running attack in the second half last week was impressive.

And I say it here, that it will be again in week two.

CROWN POINT 34, Andrean 24

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Revised: August 26, 2021.