CROWN POINT | The backbone of Crown Point's defense is the Bulldogs' linebacker core. That's the brainchild of C.P. coach Kevin Enright.
The stat sheet shows it all.
Anthony Geisen is the co-leader in tackles with 71, along with two sacks and four tackles for loss. Connor Andras also has 71 tackles with five sacks and three TFL. Brendan McKinnon has 65 tackles with three sacks and four TFL. And Ryan Kelleher has 63 tackles.
It all looks good on paper. But when C.P. hosted Lake Central in Week 4, the four combined for around two or so tackles in the 27-7 loss.
The defense allowed David Yancey to run for 280 yards and three touchdowns.
"Their speed really hurt us in the first game," Andras said.
As C.P. and L.C. lock horns tonight in the Class 5A Sectional 1 semifinal, it is likely that Yancey will not play at The Burial Grounds. An injury has likely ended the Purdue-bound standout's season.
In L.C.'s 16-0 win over Portage last Friday, it was Riley Arvanitis who did the damage in Yancey's absence. The powerful bowling ball rushed for 206 yards on 35 carries.
Same outcome. Different mode.
"We have to practice all week like (Yancey) is going to play," Andras said. "It doesn't change anything for us. We have to play our game. We have to play like we never have before.
"I like tackling bigger backs better anyway."
"We all do," Geisen added. "We've seen a lot of those kind of guys in recent weeks."
While most everyone picked Chesterton, L.C. and Merrillville as the Sectional 1 favorites, it is these Bulldogs who are the defending champions.
C.P. has won 5-of 6 games, with only a 28-21 loss to Chesterton in the loss column. Getting hot late, like last year, is what the 'Dogs are hoping to do again.
"We have to eliminate their big plays," Enright said. "We have to stay low and be assignment sound. If we can make them earn everything they get, that will be key for us."
The Bulldogs haven't played on a grass surface since Sept. 28. And they will not play on a grass surface tonight. Lake Central's field is more like a mosh pit of mud – a quagmire.
It could impact the outcome.
"It doesn't make a difference," Kelleher said. "We've been practicing on our freshman field all week, and it's not in real good shape."
"Football's football," Geisen said. "This reminds me of my Junior Bulldog days."
Enright believes his offense must take care of the ball better and limit mistakes. This is something they didn't do the first time.
"The field could have a role in what happens," he said. "We have to do what we need to do well. If we can't run between tackles we'll run outside."
McKinnon said L.C. will see a different defense this time. Several players were in different positions in the first meeting. Things have been adjusted, and the team is playing better.
"A lot of people saw us (the first game) and maybe they think we can't stand up to (L.C.)," McKinnon said. "We want to prove them wrong."
"We want everyone to know that our D is dominant, just like last year," Andras added.