A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith
|No football program in Northwest Indiana has more pride than Hobart and the Brickies were proud Friday night after defeating Lowell and winning their first undisputed Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) championship. (Photo by Mark Smith)|
(10-21-2019) Two teams that are not in this poll deserve mention.
Boone Grove is 9-0 and they are 26-7 in the last three years. The Wolves just began a football program in 2010 and they have risen very quickly, a testament to everyone there. Are they going to win the school’s first sectional championship?
Slow down. Let's just congratulate them on building a state-ranked team relatively quickly.
The other non-poll team of note is Andrean (6-3), which closed the season with four wins in a row. The big deal here s that all-star wide-receiver and kick returner Nick Flesher, who has missed seven games with injury, may return for the post-season.
Flesher caught 79 passes last year for 952 yards and he scored 12 touchdowns and he is a dominant offensive player. If ‘St. Nick’ returns for sectional play, Andrean becomes a significant favorite.
If Flesher had played all season, the 59ers would have been in this poll all season.
Let's check out who is in the final regular season poll. And, remember, this poll continues until the season is over, not like those wimpy Associated Press and coaches polls which quit at the end of the regular season.
Here, the ultimate number one team has yet to be decided.
1. (5A) Valparaiso (9-0)
2018 (10-2), 2017 (8-2), 2016 (5-5), 2015 (7-3), 2014 (2-8)
VALPARAISO – Valpo completed an undefeated regular season with a 44-14 win over Lake Central. The Vikings rolled up 389 yards and 15 first downs, completing their first undefeated regular season since 2010. The Vikings get a bye on October 25 and they host Munster (0-9) on November 1. I’ve said it before: If Valparaiso (9-0) does not play New Palestine (9-0) for the Class 5A state championship in five weeks, I will be very surprised.
2. (6A) Merrillville (8-1)
2018 (7-4), 2017 (1-9), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-5), 2014 (6-6)
MERRILLVILLE – A strong win for Merrillville 27-20 over Chesterton. Merrillville ‘held’ Chesterton QB Chris Mullen to 20 of 42 and 283 yards. The numbers don't matter. It's that the Pirates faced what they must face in the 6A Sectional 1 Semifinals against second-ranked Jefferson (9-0) and quarterback Matt Grimes who is 104 of 158 on the year for 1,811 yards and 19 TDs. The good news is that the Pirates get two weeks to prepare and they get to play at home. Merrillville is a solid No. 2 team in this poll.
3. (4A) New Prairie (8-1)
2018 (7-4), 2017 (11-2), 2016 (9-3), 2015 (6-4)
NEW CARLISLE –
The Cougars 31-28 loss to Elkhart Central (7-2) was not a major upset. EC closes
after this season (they consolidate with Elkhart Memorial) and last Friday’s
game was more than a game to Central, which has won seven games for the first
time since 2004. New Prairie faces a Riley team they defeated 48-14 two weeks
ago and, with a win, the Cougars play at home next week.
They could use a bye but New Prairie is in good shape.
4.) Chesterton (6-3)
2018 (3-7), 2017 (4-6), 2016 (2-8), 2015 (8-3)
CHESTERTON – The Trojans lost 27-20 at Merrillville (8-1) and they get a week off to think about it. The Trojans have some studying to do before they host Warsaw (7-2) on November 1. The Trojans lost at Warsaw in the 2017 playoffs but the Tigers have changed coaches and their offense since then. I would love to see Chesterton win Class 6A Sectional 2 because the Trojans are trying to win the first sectional title in school history.
5.) Hobart (7-2)
2018 (7-3), 2017 (6-4), 2016 (10-3), 2015 (5-5)
HOBART – Hobart rolled over Lowell 38-7 to take the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) championship last week and win for the seventh week in a row. Hobart seems to be playing at a peak, especially defensively. The Brickies have allowed 96 points all season and in NCC play, they gave up a total of 27 points in five weeks. The Brickies are well-equipped to go to Morton (8-1) for a pivotal Class 4A Sectional 17 quarterfinal game this Friday.
6.) (4A) Morton (8-1)
2018 (9-3), 2017 (8-3), 2016 (4-7), 2015 (6-5)
HAMMOND – Another no contest win for the Governors 49-0 over Clark, clinching the Great Lakes Conference (GLC) title. Veteran QB Credell Prather returned to the QB post after missing six games and he threw four TD passes. But I drop them in the poll because the second half of the Governors’ schedule is far too easy and it did not prepare them for what’s coming. ‘What’s coming’ is NCC champion Hobart (7-2) in a major confrontation in the northern half of the 4A bracket this week. Morton has allowed 58 points all season, but that will be put to a severe test Friday.
7.) Crown Point (5-4)
2018 (5-7), 2017 (7-5), 2016 (6-6), 2015 (1-9), 2014 (8-2)
CROWN POINT –
Crown Point closed out the regular season with a 27-20 win over Michigan City.
Junior QB Will Pettit completed only five passes all night against a tough MC
defense, but three of the passes went for long touchdowns. CP’s losses are to
Lowell (5-4), Chesterton (7-2), Merrillville (8-1) and Valparaiso (9-0) but they
have no wins over anyone with a winning record. CP drew Lake Central (3-6), a
team they defeated 10-0 in September, in the Class 6A Sectional 1 semifinals. LC
is about as short a road trip you can take and it gives CP a chance to be home
for a potential sectional championship. It may be time to point out that in 2016
and 2017, CP was 5-4 in the regular season and they then won 6A Sectional 1.
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Revised: October 22, 2019 .