Week 7 - Football Game of the Week Preview

5A LaPorte (1-5)
6A Crown Point (3-3)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


When:  7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 1, 2021

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

TV/Radio/Internet: No radio or TV.

Enrollment: CROWN POINT - 2,934; LaPorte 1,785.

WEATHER: Cool but perfect for football. Bring a jacket, but this is a night you should attend. The Bulldogs have not won a home game yet this season so there’s going to be a big push this Friday. Should be a very good October night.

PARKING: This is Crown Point’s Homecoming so there will be a few more boys and girls in the parking lot than normal. For those coming in from LaPorte, Crown Point has the parking lot of a 3,000-teen school. There is plenty of room, but you are asked to walk little bit. In good weather, no problem.

WHAT's AT STAKE: I’d be making up any rivalry or controversy between Crown Point and LaPorte. To my knowledge, there just isn’t any. Before Crown Point joined the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) In 1992, these two schools didn't meet in very many sports at all. They are not close geographically, obviously. The Slicers and Bulldogs lived in their own counties and somewhat, in their own worlds.


The HISTORY:  LaPorte is Crown Point's most distant league rival, about 35 miles to the northeast. The word LaPorte means 'the door' in French, referring to the fact that LaPorte was a gateway around the tip of Lake Michigan into the state. In the 19th Century, to get to Chicago by land your only option was to come through LaPorte, which was established in 1832.

If there are terribly affluent areas of LaPorte I have not found them. If you only travel to the city to go to the high school you may not appreciate that anyplace outside of the center of town becomes very rural very quickly. Half the population of LaPorte County (about 111,000) live in LaPorte (22,000) and Michigan City (31,000) which is at the west end of the county. I've gotten lost in the rolling green farmland of eastern LaPorte County more than once.

LaPorte is the school with a state record eight baseball championship. Basketball has won 28 sectionals and eight regional titles going back to the start of the IHSAA state tourney.

Football has not won a lot of trophies other than Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) titles in 1986 and 2003 and sectional and regional runs in 2006 and 2014.

LaPorte benefitted significantly from the institution of a Class 6A in Indiana high school football. Playing in Class 5A in 2014, the Slicers won five playoff games and advanced to the state championship game. There is very little chance LaPorte could have won a Class 6A Sectional because of the size of 6A schools.

In 2015 and 2016, LaPorte was bounced back up to Class 6A where they lost to Penn in sectional play. But dropped to 5A by enrollment in 2017 to 2020, LaPorte won a sectional game each season.
The Slicers' enrollment has slipped in the past decade so they are securely in Class 5A and the LaPorte football boys actually have a chance for wins in 5A Sectional 10 next month.

The long range future is bright for the football program.


  W-L Pts OP W-L Pts OP Streak
Merrillville 4-0 189 59 6-  0 277 94 Won 6
Valparaiso 4-0 171 75 6-  0 277 88 Won 6
Chesterton 3-1 103 36 5-  1 165 50 Won 1
Crown Point 2-2 96 119 3-  3 131 154 Lost 1
Lake Central 1-3 54 125 3-  3 124 125 Lost 3
Michigan City 1-3 111 129 3-  3 208 145 Won 1
LaPorte 1-3 78 172 2-  4 120 223 Lost 1
Portage 0-4 26 113 1-  5 73 145 Lost 5

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

End of the regular season

2021 (5A) LaPorte (2-4)
4-7 (2020), 3-8 (2019), 4-7 (2018), 7-4 (2017)
Coach David Ortiz (1st year) Duneland Conference games in CAPS

8-20 (L) 21-37 (4A) New Prairie (5-1)
8-28 (W) 21-14 (OT) at (6A) Penn (2-4)
9-3 (L) 26-56 (6A) VALPARAISO (6-0)
9-10 (L) 6-42 at (6A) CHESTERTON (5-1)
9-17 (W) 27-20 (OT) (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (3-3)
9-24 (L) 19-54 at (6A) MERRILLVILLE (6-0)
10-1 at (6A) CROWN POINT (3-3)
10-8 (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (3-3)
10-15 (6A) PORTAGE (1-5)

Class 5A Sectional 10
vs. Concord (5-1), Mishawaka (4-2), Goshen (2-4), Michigan City (3-3) and (South Bend) Adams (3-3).


LaPorte badly needs a bye in the 6-team 5A Sectional 10. The competition is strong. I just think the Slicers need a week off. This will be the first playoff game for QB Antonio Christensen and if the draw can bump LaPorte up into the semifinals, LaPorte has life. We’ll know more next week when the Slicers take on sectional rival and County rival Michigan City.

LaPORTE Update:

Here’s LaPorte’s details and it’s an old, sad story.

The Slicers were prepared to rumble this fall until veteran quarterback RJ Anglin (6-2, 156) went down with a season-ending injury in week two What are they supposed to do?

‘Fight on’, is what they have chosen. Junior backup QB Antonio Christensen (6-1, 168) now leads the offense and the Slicers have pulled out two overtime wins leaning heavily on senior running back Collin Berquist (5-11, 181), who has 799 yards and 10 TDs on 127 carries.

Christensen isn’t a runner, but he has completed 26 of 62 passes for 333 yards three TDs and five interceptions. LaPorte has good receivers including the tall one, senior Grant Ott-Large (6-3, 220), who has 12 catches for 108 yards and the speedy one Jayden Parkes (5-9, 170) who has caught 16 balls for 279 yards and three touchdowns.

Collin Berquist is one tough, LaPorte County hombre. He just passed the 3,000-yard mark (555 carries, 3,078 yards, 26 touchdowns) for his career.

As a freshman, he gained 442 yards on 99 carries. As a sophomore Slicer, get stepped for 463 yard on 97 runs. Last year, Berquist ran 232 times for 1,374 yards and 11 TDs.

LaPorte does not have a big offensive line by DAC standards. Center Triston Thompson (5-10, 264) pivots for guards Andrew Coates (5-9, 220) and Cade Anderson (5-11, 214) and tackles Colton Thode (6-2, 257) and Braylyn Schultz (6-1, 225).

Defensively, LaPorte has allowed 1,467 yards on 236 carries (6.2 per carry) in six games. That has to change by the time LaPorte gets into 5A Sectional 9 next month. Evan Back (6-0, 168) has two interceptions. Hayden Lowe (6-, 218) has thee quarterback sacks, two fumble recoveries and three blocked kicks. LaPorte has to have big plays.

Linebacker Gavin Zolvinski (6-1, 210) is the Slicers’ leading tackler with 62. Safety Nick Shuble (6-0, 167) has been in on 48 tackles and he has two blocked kicks.

This is a ‘try hard’ team. Not that every team doesn’t try hard, but LaPorte knows they are underdogs without their starting QB. LaPorte has won two overtime games, so they could easily be 0-6. But the longer the game stays close, the better LaPorte seems to be.

2021 (6A) Crown Point (3-3)
3-4 (2020), 6-5 (2019), 5-7 (2018) 7-5 (2017) 6-6 (2016)
Coach Craig Buzea (3-3, 1st year) 216-89 in 27 years Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) games in CAPS

8-20 (W) 28-14 at (4A) Lowell (3-3)
8-27 (L) 7-21 (2A) Andrean (4-2)
9-3 (L) 13-50 (6A) MERRILLVILLE (6-0)
9-10 (W) 42-7 at (6A) LAKE CENTRAL (3-3)
9-17 (W) 27-6 at (6A) PORTAGE (1-5)
9-24 (5A) VALPARAISO (6-0)
10-1 (5A) LaPORTE (2-4)
10-8 at (6A) CHESTERTON (5-1)
10-15 (5A) MICHIGAN CITY (3-3)

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


Crown Point junior quarterback JJ Johnson (2) completes a pass to senior wide receiver Nate Woodrick (18) over the out-stretched hands of Valpo's Micah Nathan (95) on Friday, 09-24-2021. (Photo by Mark Smith)

A LOOK AT THE SCHEDULE: We are approaching the state tournament draw next Sunday, October 9. Remember, no 6A teams play on Friday, October 22, a large health break.


CROWN POINT (9-24-21)
In two games against Valparaiso (6-0) and Merrillville (6-0), Crown Point has been outscored 106-27. That’s a lot.

But in the other four games, CP is 3-1 and that includes a 21-7 loss to Class 2A No. 3 Andrean (4-2).

I still don't know about this Bulldog team. CP has lost to teams that, frankly, they should have lost to. There is very little discouraging about CP team numbers. Crown Point has gained 106 first downs (17.5) per game, 1,132 rushing yards (188.7 per night) and 1,792 total yards (298) per game. The turnover total (nine in 6 games) is a little high and 29 penalties for 224 yards is a few too many. But Crown Point, which has had a lot of first time starter this year, is headed in the right direction.
Junior quarterback JJ Johnson is 52 of 103 for 640 yards passing, six TDs and four interceptions. Johnson has run the ball 91 times for 397 yards and five scores. Junior running back Elijah Tiawhan (6-1, 215) has run 95 times for 574 yards and four TDs.

Sophomore receiver Landon Delich (6-3, 175) has caught 18 passes for 248 yards and senior Nate Woodrick has 12 catches for 143 yards.

On defense, linebacker Matt Woods (6-2, 215) has made 28 tackles and linebacker Liam Begley (6-1, 215) has been in on 27 tackles.

Kicker Sammy Brewer has two field goals (the long one was 32 yards), is 16 of 17 on extra points and averages 33 yards per punt.

The Bulldogs, oddly, are 3-0 on the road and 0-3 at home, so this Friday’s game means a lot.

5A LaPORTE (1-5) at 6A CROWN POINT (3-3)

at Crown Point Stadium - Capacity: 4,800


SAGARIN RATINGS: Crown Point by 4.

I remember promising in this space that Valpo would not defeat Crown Point by 18 points or more, so maybe I better shut up. LaPorte has faced four Top-10 ranked teams so it's hard to read them. For the record, Valparaiso was an 18-point favorite over Crown Point last week and the Vikings won 56-14.


CROWN POINT (10-01-2021) This will be a low-scoring game; scoreless at the quarter and maybe 10-0 at the half on a Sammy Brewer field goal and JJ Johnson TD run.

I think both teams will try some ‘no huddle’ action to pick up the pace on what might be the first really cool night of the fall. I’ve got to give Collin Berquist a TD run to cut the lead to 10-7, but CP’s JJ Johnson hits Randy Lach on a TD toss to make it 17-7 in the third quarter.

LaPorte keeps up the fight and a second Berquist TD cuts the lead to 17-14. Early in the fourth period a run by Elijah Tiawhan regains CP a 10-point lead. After a pair of back-to-back defensive stops, Tiawhan breaks loose deep into LaPorte territory setting up a second field goal by Brewer.

Crown Point wins the Homecoming game and the home team finally goes home happy.

CROWN POINT 27, LaPorte 14

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Revised: October 01, 2021 .