The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2016 NW Indiana High School Football Week-10 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Hanover Central (9-0) will host their first playoff game in history this Friday night when Hammond (3-6) comes to Cedar Lake. HC lost their Class 3A sectional opener last year at Wheeler and when Hanover previously had football in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was no state football tournament. (Photo by Mark Smith)

LaPORTE (10-16-2016) One of the things you do to rank teams is look at how 'Team A' and 'Team B' fared against 'Team C'. It makes ranking simple. If 'A' defeated 'C' and 'B' didn't, you rank 'A' above 'B' right?

LaPorte (8-1) topped Michigan City 42-35 two weeks ago. Valparaiso (5-4), which lost to LaPorte six weeks ago, shut out Michigan City 29-0 five weeks ago. But Michigan City (6-3) stomped on Portage 35-14 three weeks ago. So LaPorte is '1', Valpo is '2', Michigan City is '3' and and Portage is '4', right? It's simple.

Wait a minute, Portage (6-3) just beat LaPorte 31-18 and Portage beat Valpo 24-20 two weeks ago. So, Portage is '1' right? But they not only lost to Michigan City (6-3), they lost to Merrillville 20-14 in September and Merrillville (4-5) has a quarterback who hurt his shoulder and is out for the year.

So where do you want to rank everybody?

This hardly qualifies as news or even something anybody wants to hear. But Class 1A Lafayette Catholic won their 24th game in a row Friday 41-10 over Tipton. In public school news, Class 4A Northwood, which averages 45 points a game, won 43-12 at Plymouth. In Class 2A, remember Woodlan, the team that Whiting defeated in the semistate game in the snow last November? The team coached by former Whiting coach Sherwood Haydock?

They haven't lost since that day. Class 2A No. 1 Woodlan improved to 9-0 with a 28-16 victory over Adams Central. We'll be seeing them again next month if Whiting wins the sectional and regional.

Class 5 and 6A schools get a much needed week off. But the poll never takes a bye week.

1. (6A) LaPorte (8-1)
2015 (6-4), 2014 (8-6), 2013 (1-9), 2012 (1-9)


LaPORTE: I can't drop LaPorte for their week nine 31-18 loss at Portage in a game that was, for them, meaningless. The Slicers still won the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) because everyone else has two losses. LaPorte led 7-0, but fumbled six times and, to some extent, beat themselves. It was a shock because the Slicers had only fumbled seven times in eight games prior to last week. With all due credit to Portage, when you lose six fumbles, the only surprise is that you only lost by 13. Fortunately for the Slicers, LaPorte, like all 6A teams, gets a bye this week and then they play at Chesterton (2-7). I just can't make a lot out of this loss.


2. (6A) Valparaiso (5-4)
2015 (7-3), 2014 (2-8), 2013 (3-7), 2012 (3-7)


VALPARAISO: Valparaiso has lost games 39-38 to LaPorte, 24-20 to Portage and 21-20 last week at Lake Central. Valpo led 10-0 and 20-14 in the fourth quarter, but they lost the ball six times to LC including an interception with 1:33 left that set up the game-winning TD. Valpo QB Jake Leffew, who had been intercepted just two times all year, was intercepted five times by LC. I cannot explain it.
I don't think the three teams that beat them by less than a TD are better than the Vikings, but Valpo is are gong to have to win a close game eventually. 'Eventually' probably needs to be Oct. 28 when the Vikings open the state tournament at home against 6A No. 2 Penn (9-0).


3. (6A) Portage (6-3)
2015 (1-10), 2014 (1-9), 2013 (6-4), 2012 (3-7)


PORTAGE:  Portage did it again... a 31-18 win over Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) champion LaPorte on the final day of the regular season. QB Anthony Maceo gained 243 yards on 23 carries and LaPorte became the ninth team this year that couldn't stop him. Maceo (204, 1,274 yards) has gained over 100 yards six times in nine games and he has scored two or more TDs six times. Portage is 4-0 at home and 4-1 against other 6A schools. I don't know how they lost by 21 to Michigan City, but we can overlook that. Portage has allowed 20 points a game, but their defense seems better than that when you see them play. What bothers you about the Indians is that they just can't throw the ball. Just 36 pass completions all season. I know that will catch up to them. But it won't be next week because all 6A teams have a bye. Portage plays Merrillville (4-5) on October 28 in Class 6A Sectional 1.


4. (4A) New Prairie (7-2)
2015 (6-4), 2014 (13-2), 2013 (12-1), 2012 (12-1)


NEW CARLISLE: The Cougars took down Jimtown 28-7 to end the regular season on a high note. The losses here are to LaPorte (8-1) by one point and (Mishawaka) Marian (8-1) by four points. The Cougars are a TD and a field goal from being 9-0. Junior Nick Wilson (196 carries 1,158 yards, 15 TDs), the shifty option QB for the Cougars, gained 133 yards on 30 carries against the Jimmies. Wilson (5-10, 170) has five 100-yard games. Even with the former Griffith coach Russ Radtke, the Lake County-based football followers forget about New Prairie every year, but they will be reminded in the next four weeks. New Prairie opens the post-season on the road at a South Bend Riley team they have already defeated 70-14. Hobart (7-2) and New Prairie (7-2) have to meet sometime in 4A Sectional 18.

5. (5A) Michigan City (6-3)
2015 (2-7), 2014 (4-6), 2013 (2-8), 2012 (2-8), 2011 (1-9)


MICHIGAN CITY: Michigan City's run defense betrayed them in a 42-21 home loss to Crown Point as they gave up four rushing TDs to Bulldog QB Grayson Lynk. The Wolves lost 42-35 to LaPorte the week before and they may not have been ready to play a team with a losing record. QB Mike McCullough threw 39 passes and when a team with two Division I running backs has to throw 39 times, they're losing. Top rusher Aryuan Cain-Veasey (170 carries, 1,271 yards) was held to 83 yards on 17 carries, but the key there is 17 carries. CP never trailed and the Wolves were chasing the lead most of the night. But MC is still very muck OK. They get a week off and they travel to South Bend to play Riley (2-7) on October 28. By that time, what happened against Crown Point should be a distant memory.


6. (4A) LOWELL (5-4)
2015 (12-1), 2014 (8-5), 2013 (6-4), 2012 (5-5), 2011 (5-5)


LOWELL: Lowell probably needs a bye week after a spirited 35-21 win at Andrean to end the regular season. Sophomore QB Ethan Igras threw for two touchdowns and halfback Trevor Espravnik passed the 100-yard mark. Tight end Mitch Wildman caught his fourth TD pass in four games. Andrean's three TDs were the most scored on the Lowell defense in one game all season, but the Devils have won five games by 14 points or more. The losses here are to Hobart (7-2), Portage (6-3), Griffith (6-3) and Crown Point (4-5), all by a TD or less. The Devils got a great draw, hosting Gary West Side (1-7) in the Class 4A Sectional 17 quarterfinals this Friday. But it's not a week off and Lowell seniors most certainly remember Gary West Side knocking the Devils out of the sectional three years ago.


7. (4A) Hobart (7-2)
2015 (5-5), 2014 (3-7), 2013 (5-5), 2012 (8-3)


HOBART: This is a quiet 7-2. I think it's because of the 17-point loss to LaPorte (8-1) and the 24 point loss to Andrean (4-5). But the Brickies closed out a strong regular season with a 41-14 win over Highland. Nick Ray gained 109 yards and two TDs on just eight carries. Kicker Nick Campos hit from 26 and 37 yards out. Highland was held to 132 total yards. They have topped Lowell (5-4) and Griffith (6-3) and, to be honest, five teams with losing records. Are they better than Lake Central (4-5)? Or East Chicago (7-1)? Or even Merrillville? I'm not sure, but the record says they are. The Brickies host an outmanned South Bend Washington (3-6) to start play in 4A Sectional 18 next Friday.

8. (6A) CROWN POINT (4-5)
2015 (1-9), 2014 (8-2), 2013 (6-4), 2012 (8-4)


CROWN POINT: Got to give CP special mention here for their 42-21 upset at Michigan City last Friday. Senior QB Grayson Lynk ran for a career-high four TDs and threw a 61-yarder to top receiver Shane McCormick. Look, Michigan City beat Portage by 21 points two weeks ago. Portage beat CP 7-3 four weeks ago and now CP beats Michigan City by this same 21 points. I don't know what's going on. But Crown Point (4-5) plays at home against Lake Central (4-5) on Oct. 28 and the Bulldogs have a real chance to win the sectional title in a four team group that has Merrillville (4-5) and Portage (6-3). Hey, they have a two-game winning streak for the first time in two years.


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Revised: October 16, 2016 .