Week 4 - Football Game of the Week Preview

6A Crown Point (1-2)
6A Lake Central (3-0)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith



When: 7:00 p.m., CDT on Friday, September 10, 2021.

Where: Lake Central High School, 8400 Wicker Ave., St. John, Indiana (1.7-miles South of US 30 on US 41).
TV/Radio/Internet: Region Sports Network – rrsn.com live audio. Video replay.
NOTE: To the rrsn folks. The broadcasts are much appreciated. None of us can go to more than one game. Thank you.

But there is a major issue. The camera shooting the game never totally focuses on the ball. During last week’s Portage at LC game, I could see cars driving down US 41 during live action. But I could not read the numbers of the players. The game is not watchable. There may be personnel issues I am not aware of, but there is no need to include every player on the field and the visitors' grandstand in every shot. I know y’all know this, but if you focus in as close as you can on the ball and follow the ball, you will never miss anything.

Tickets: $6

Enrollment: CROWN POINT - 2,934; Lake Central 3,242.
Lake Central and Crown Point are the two largest high schools in Northwest Indiana.

WEATHER: Very good once again. The forecast has temperatures in the upper 70s Friday and we should be in the upper 60s by the second half. Good for players and very good for fans. Two weeks in a row the conditions will be fine for players and the folks in the stands.


PARKING: There’s always an issue with parking at Lake Central because the campus was never meant for a 3,000-kid school. It's better than it was couple of decades ago, but you need to get to LC early because there’s only parking in the school lot south and southeast of the field. There is excitement around LC football and they know their close friends from Crown Point will show up for this one. So with good weather, the crowd will be fairly large. You need to get to the field before 6:30 for the 7 p.m. kickoff.


WHAT's AT STAKE: Like CP-Merrillville last week, CP-Lake Central is obviously a matchup of border rivals, ‘next door neighbors’, boys who may have faced each other in varying sports all their athletic lives.

In my years (too many to count) here I’ve found that there is a little more emotion involved in LC-CP than there is in Merrillville-CP, even though CP-Merrillville is usually the more important game from a league and sectional standpoint.

If you listened to new coach Richard Good talk about his team's fast start, he is cautious about what’s ahead. But this is a very big game for Lake Central. LC’s seniors have never beaten Crown Point at the varsity level. Nobody has to tell Lake Central players that CP has won the last seven meetings with the Indians. LC’s last win was 21-7 over the Bulldogs on September 11, 2015. Some of the boys on the field Friday night were in sixth grade.

But I don’t have to tell CP boys what happened the last two weeks when Crown Point has trailed 21-0 and 50-0.

That’s called getting ‘knocked down’.

CP has to get back up before ‘what happened’ becomes a habit.

Last year's game ...
Bulldogs defeat LC 16-7 with two 2nd quarter TDs



















Friday, September 11, 2020 -  68 degrees (at kick-off) at CROWN POINT, IN

1st Qtr(No scoring.)

2nd Qtr: CROWN POINT (6-0) Matthew Walters, 34-yard run. 64-yard drive, 5 plays. Kick blocked. 11:50 left.
LAKE CENTRAL (7-6) Aisen Henry, 36-yard pass from Luke Niedy. 36-yard drive, one play. Derek Baldin kick. 4:08 left.
CROWN POINT (13-7) JJ Johnson, 15-yard pass from Will Pettit. 80-yard drive, 10 plays. Sammy Brewer kick. 1:19 left.

3rd Qtr: (No scoring.)

4th Qtr: CROWN POINT (16-7) Sammy Brewer, 18-yard field goal, 1:16 left.


LAKE CENTRAL (20 carries, -5 yards) Max Creasbaum (HB) 11 carries, 10 yards; Tony Bartolomeo (HB) 1-5 yards; Ben Basco (HB) 1-1 yards; Luke Neidy (QB) 4 (minus-22 yards).

CROWN POINT (37 carries, 174 yards, one TD) Matthew Walters (HB) 23 carries, 133 yards, TD; Will Pettit (QB) 6 carries, 13 yards; JJ Johnson (WR) 8-22 yards.

LAKE CENTRAL: Luke Niedy (QB) 14 of 24, 146 yards,
CROWN POINT: Will Pettit (QB) 10 of 19, 98 yards, one TD.

LAKE CENTRAL : Diego Garcia (WR) 6 catches, 34 yards; Also Henry (WR) 4-68 yards; Mykle Davis (HB) 1-14.
CROWN POINT: JJ Johnson (WR) 4 catches, 27 yards, TD; Treston Logan (WR) 1-15 yards; Matthew Walters (HB) 3-11 yards, Chris Walsh (WR) 2-45.

LAKE CENTRAL: 136 total yards, 7 first downs, no turnovers;
CROWN POINT: 278 total yards, 16 first downs, no turnovers.


CROWN POINT (09-11-2020) Just like this Friday, CP was 1-2 and they walked off the home field with a ‘must win’.
I don’t recall this as one of the more thrilling games in recent years, but the Crown Point defense was excited about holding LC to just 136 total yards, topping LC for the seventh consecutive meeting. The highlight of the night was the 80-yard, 10 play drive with the TD pass from now-graduated QB Will Pettit to CP’s 2021 quarterback JJ Johnson, who was a wide receiver on that night.

I won't try to explain how Crown Point had 16 first downs and no turnovers, but scored just two touchdowns.

This one was tough for Lake Central, which didn’t win a game the rest of the season, finishing 1-9. Crown Point won the next week at Portage, but the Covid-19 virus cancelled three games after that and the Bulldogs ended the ‘cursed’ 2020 season with a 3-4 record.

Seems like Lake Central has always been there, northeast of Crown Point. But it hasn’t.

LC was 65-37 in varsity football in the 1980s and 52-46-2 in the 70s, but Lake Central is only 55 years old.

The school became Lake Central in 1966, taking in the entire Tri-Town (Dyer, Schererville, St. John area). Before 1966, Lake Central was Dyer Central and the results were up-and-down. Dyer Central, which began football in 1949, was 7-1-2 in 1950 but 0-9 in 1953. The transition of Dyer Central to cover the entire Tri-Town community indicated the rapid population growth of the area bordering Illinois on both sides of Route 30 and east and west of US 41.

LC was good in football.

The Indians were 11-2 when they lost the 1993 state title game 34-27 to Bloomington South and they defeated CP 64-34 in 1998, the highest scoring NW Indiana non-overtime game in state tournament history.

In the old Lake Suburban Conference, LC was the undefeated champion in 1986 and 1990. But when the league disbanded in 1992, LC became an independent, unlike Crown Point which went directly to the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC).

The Lake Central football schedules in the 1990s were odd, including Indianapolis powers like Ben Davis and faraway Chicago area schools like Lake Forest and Wheaton North. LC played Lima, Ohio in 2000.

The problem was: LC, which officially had 2,588 kids in 1995 was too big. Nearby local schools would not play them and the only schools LC’s size were involved in conference play in the DAC after the third week of the season.

So it was a positive that LC joined the DAC in 2003 even if they did lose the first 15 DAC games they played. Lake Central was the undefeated champion of the DAC with a 7-0 league record in 2014, the Indians’ only DAC crown. But that was their last winning season.
Friday’s game could go a long way towards changing that.

The 'Distant' Replay ...  
Bulldogs' Defense holds LC to FG as Gomez rushes for 133 yds
 to lead CP to 17-3 win in rain

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith







Lake Central (1-3)












Friday, September 9, 2016 -  70 degrees and steady rain showers at CROWN POINT, IN

1st QtrNo scoring.
2nd Qtr: CROWN POINT (7-0) Griff Govert, 1-yard run. (80-yard drive, 17 plays) Ben Fridrich kick. 11:56 left.

3rd Qtr: LAKE CENTRAL (7-3) Cole Rainwater, 27-yard field goal. 8:07 left.

4th Qtr: CROWN POINT (10-3) Ben Fridrich, 31-yard field goal. 55 yards drive, 7 plays. 9:09 left.
CROWN POINT (17-3) Tyler Gomez, 18-yard run. 42 yard drive, 5 plays. Ben Fridrich kick. 5:47 left.



LAKE CENTRAL (24 carries, 87 yards, 0 TDs, fumble) Anthony Giles (HB) 19 caries, 86 yards, Zach Bundalo (QB) 1 (minus-8 yards), Quincy Tribble (WR) 1-7 yards;
CROWN POINT (50 caries, 184 yards, 2 TDs, fumble) Tyler Gomez (HB) 39 carries, 133 yards, TD; Griffin Govert (FB) 7 carries, 20 yards, TD; Grayson Lynk (QB) 4 carries, 31 yards.


LAKE CENTRAL: Zach Bundalo (QB) 6 of 11, 46 yards, 0TDs, 1 interception;
CROWN POINT: Grayson Lynk (QB) 4 of 8, 67 yarsd, 0 TDs 0 INTS.


LAKE CENTRAL: Josh Benson (WR) 3 catches, 60 yards; Kyle Paul (WR) 1-5 yards;
CROWN POINT: Tyler Jones (WR) 3 catches 23 yards, Griffin Govert (FB) 2-16 yards, Shane McCormack (WR) 4-323-25 yards, Ben Fridrich (TE) 1-15 yards, Tyler Gomez (HB) 1-10 yards. Leo Radiceski (WR) 1-3 yards.

LAKE CENTRAL: 154 yards, 6 first downs, 3 turnovers;
CROWN POINT: 230 yards, 15 first downs, 1 turnover
Fumble recovery:
Caden Watson (CP), Zach Ramus (CP), Chris Gillespie (LC)
Bailey Miles (CP).


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Ethan Wood (86) and Don Schuch (25) chase Lou Razo (21) during the Chesterton at CP game on 10-07-2016. (Photo by Mark Smith)

CROWN POINT (9-12-2016) Just like this season, the 2016 Bulldogs were 1-2 and coming off losses in week two and week three after a season-opening win over Lowell. The loss to Merrillville was by a 41-28 score.

Some doubt was setting in and it was justified. The Bulldogs were 1-9 in 2015.

Facing a team that averaged 28 points a game over the first three weeks, Crown Point (2-2, 1-1 Duneland Athletic Conference) held Lake Central to three points, six first downs and an unofficial total of just 154 yards.

I’d like to tell you that I remember this game vividly, but I don’t. It rained all night. I have no photos of this game. It was a mushy memory.

This didn’t seem like it was going to be part of a big season for Crown Point.

Turns out it was. After a 2-5 start, the 2016 Bulldogs won four in a row including a 10-6 sectional win over Lake Central and took the Class 6A Sectional 1 title with a 24-19 rematch win over Merrillville.

The Bulldogs finished 6-6 after a 23-0 regional loss to Penn and the season-ending offensive highlight numbers were few. Shane McCormack would catch 39 passes for 738 yards. Tyler Gomez ran 205 times for 686 yards.

Defensively, this was an excellent team. They allowed just 190 points (15.8 per game) in 12 games. The 2016 Bulldogs allowed just 250 yards a game playing the entire DAC, LC twice, Merrillville twice and Penn.

Co-captain Don Schuch had 117 tackles in 2016. Zach Stewart grabbed six interceptions. This was one time when the first three weeks of the season didn’t predict what would happen in October and November.

2021 (6A) Lake Central (3-0)
1-9 (2020), 3-7 (2019), 2-8 (2018), 2-8 (2017), 4-6 (2016)
Coach Richard Good (1st year, 3-0) Duneland Conference games in CAPS

8-20 (W) 28-0 at (5A) Munster (1-2)
8-27 (W) 42-0 (5A) Morton (0-3)
9-4 (W) 14-7 (6A) PORTAGE (1-2)
9-10 (6A) CROWN POINT (1-2)
9-17 at (5A) LaPORTE (1-2)
9-24 (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (2-1)
10-1 at (6A) CHESTERTON (3-0)
10-8 (6A) MERRILLVILLE (3-0)
10-15 (5A) VALPARAISO (3-0)

Class 6A Sectional 1
vs. CP (1-2), Merrillville (3-0) and Jefferson (1-2)

SCHEDULE NOTES: Lake Central is justified in being excited about their 3-0 start, but there are storm clouds on the horizon. LC faces the top four teams in the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) in the final four weeks of the regular season.


This is the best start for LC in nine years. The 2012 Indians were 5-0 and finished at 8-3. There’s a lot of ‘new-ness’ about Lake Central. First year coach Rich Good has come over from Calumet and LC is playing some young players.

Two of the ‘next generation’ Indians are halfbacks Xavier Williams (6-0, 190) and Amarion Brooks (5-7, 160). In highlights, Lake Central lines up in a some two-back formations with three wide receivers and no tight end.

Brooks has a lot of speed and can run away from the boys in the other color uniforms. Williams is obviously bigger and combines speed and power.

Statistics from LC have proven hard to come by, but Williams, who is the feature back, has an unofficial 322 yards and five TDs on 49 carries. Defenses have to take the ‘LCX-man’ out of the game and make Lake Central do something else.

Luke Niedy (6-0 180) and sophomore Jonny Sorenson (5-9, 160) have shuffled at QB due to injury, but it doesn’t look like LC wants to throw the ball a lot while running that ‘read option’ offense. When they need to throw, Niedy was 104 of 176 last year for 969 yards last season and Diego Garcia is a good pass catcher.

No one has scored on the Lake Central defense this season. The only Portage touchdown came on a pass interception. But it's hard to say how good the Indian defenders are.

Lake Central is a run and play defense team. But LC has played Portage (1-2), a Morton (0-3) team that has been outscored 115-14 and a Munster (1-2) team that has won just four games in four years. Everybody in the Lake Central program knows that.

LC also knows that Crown Point’s two loses are to teams (Andrean and Merrillville) ranked in the Top-5 in their class. CP has rushed for 460 yards against three good run defense teams. This is the biggest test of the season for Lake Central and I hope a big crowd shows up to watch.

2021 (6A) Crown Point (1-2)
3-4 (2020), 6-5 (2019), 5-7 (2018), 7-5 (2017), 6-6 (2016)
Coach Craig Buzea (1-2, 1st year) 214-87 in 27 years; Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) games in CAPS

8-20 (W) 28-14 at (4A) Lowell (1-2)
8-27 (L) 7-21 (2A) Andrean (1-2)
9-3 (L) 13-50 (6A) MERRILLVILLE (3-0)
9-10 at (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (3-0)
9-17 at (6A) PORTAGE (1-2)
9-24 (5A) VALPARAISO (3-0)
10-1 (5A) LaPORTE (1-2)
10-8 at (6A) CHESTERTON (3-0)
10-15 (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (2-1)

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

CP junior Aidan Duerig (72) during the Merrillville at CP game, 9-03-2021. (Photo by Mark Smith)

A LOOK AT THE SECTIONAL: Jefferson started 0-2, but they found the way to the bank last Friday winning 62-21 over McCutcheon (0-3). In three games, the Jeff Bronchos have scored 104 points. Jeff lost a close one 27-21 to 3A No. 2 West Lafayette (3-0) and a not-too-close one 49-21 at Lawrence Central (1-2).


CROWN POINT (9-4-21)
No way the Bulldogs are feeling good this week after a 50-13 loss to Merrillville, but if all that’s injured are their egos, they’ll be set to go for a much needed win this Friday.

The numbers allowed do not show it, but Crown Point played fairly well defensively the first two weeks before being swamped by Merrillville last Friday. Special teams problems and other breakdowns contributed to that 50-0 halftime embarrassment. Let’s see what the Crown Point defense looks like now that they’re not playing state-rated teams.

Here’s what is encouraging. Crown Point has earned 44 first downs in three weeks and has rushed 90 times for 460 yards (4.0 per carry).

Junior QB JJ Johnson has been under heavy pass rush pressure, but he is 25 of 43 for 256 yards, three TDs and two interceptions. Johnson has run 37 times (4.4 per carry) for 152 yards. He still looks good when the line protects him.

CP’s big blockers, including Jack Darlington (6-5, 285), Jackson Ruess (6-5, 300) and Nic Cicero (6-4, 280) won't be facing a defense led by a Division-I player this week and they are the key to this game for CP.

Junior Bulldog running back Elijah Tiawhan (6-1, 215) leads the Bulldogs with an eye-opening (considering the opposition) 237 yards rushing (6.1 yards per carry) on 39 carries.

Crown Point has a star place kicker in Sammy Brewer, but both of his attempts have been blocked this season and I’d bet a whole bag full of money that this was a source of serious attention in practice this week.


LC Stadium: capacity 3,000



SAGARIN RATINGS: Crown Point by 4.

This spread might seem odd, but the difference in the schedules these two teams have played so far is major. Portage, a team LC beat 14-7 last week, lost 26-21 to the Lowell team Crown Point defeated 28-14 in week one. Munster, which lost to LC and Andrean, which defeated CP are both 1-2. But the 59ers are rated 45 points better than Munster on the computer. For the record, Merrillville was a 29-point favorite over Crown Point last week and the Pirates won by 37, 50-13.



ST. JOHN (09-10-2021) This will be a close game because Lake Central will be 100% ready to play. But I think Crown Point takes the lead early on a Sammy Brewer field goal and a short TD run by JJ Johnson.

Lake Central will close the gap on a TD pass from veteran QB Luke Niedy to play maker Diego Garcia.

But in the second half, Crown Point takes control running behind the big offensive line and Elijah Taiwhan scores twice. Xavier Williams sees the goal line in the fourth quarter, but Brewer will add a second field goal.

I don’t think LC’s defense has been challenged as of yet and they will be Friday. CP gets back to the .500 mark.


CROWN POINT 27, Lake Central 14

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Revised: September 09, 2021 .