Timeout football: Crown Point will have its hands full trying to contain Merrillville
By Mike Hutton 648-3139 or firstname.lastname@example.org August 30, 2012 11:49PM
Merrillville Pirates quarterback Jake Raspopovich looks to pass against Andrean during their game held at Merrillville High School on Friday August 24, 2012. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
There are multiple variables to defending Merrillville’s football team.
Crown Point coach Kevin Enright knows all of them all too well. He was the defensive coordinator for the Bulldogs for eight seasons before returning from Homewood-Flossmoor (Ill.), where he worked as an assistant, to coach Crown Point this season.
The Pirates are fast, athletic and explosive on offense and defense.
They proved that last week in a 50-28 victory over Andrean when they scored six straight touchdowns to take down the 59ers.
It was not an atypical day for the Pirates, who were trailing in the first half before running away with the win. They can start slow and still win big.
The Pirates racked up 213 yards rushing and 143 yards passing in the victory.
“Merrillville’s ability to score quickly and make big plays can create momentum shifts,” Enright said. “It can be really demoralizing from an opponent’s stand point. They have the capability to make big, quick play strikes.”
Against Andrean, the Pirates’ last six TDs were a 24-yard pass, runs of 26 and 29 yards, a 43-yard fumble recovery, a 42- yard run and a 33-yard pass.
Merrillville is so explosive in that it can look positively awful for a quarter, a half, even three quarters and then turn it all on in a jet-stream like manner.
Enright knows this and the goal is for his team to contain the Pirates.
“We don’t want to get in a shootout with them,” he said.
Crown Point has to put itself in position to win by controlling the line of scrimmage and chewing up time on offense so it can keep the ball out of the hands of Jake Raspopovich and running back Dylon Collins. Raspopovich, the Pirates’ quarterback, ran for 68 yards.
Keeping Raspopovich in check is a big part of the challenge for the Bulldogs.
“He makes you defend the whole field,” Enright said. “He’s good with his feet and he makes good decisions.”
Merrillville coach Zac Wells said it’s hard to “steal a section of the game” against Crown Point because the Bulldogs are solid in every phase — from special teams to defense to offense. Wells said this is similar to a Chip Pettit-coached team with the exception of some of the schemes on offense, where it relies more on the spread offense than it has in the past.
Crown Point, like Merrillville, started slowly last week, heading into halftime tied at 10 with Hobart.
The Bulldogs finished strong, scoring 27 straight in the second half in a 27-19 victory. Enright said some sloppy first-half plays — too many penalties and some subpar execution —hurt them.
They were able to recover nicely. They won’t likely have the luxury of getting off to a slow start against the Pirates.
Running back Tyler Smith led Crown Point with 194 yards rushing.