The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2017 NW Indiana High School Football Week-11 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Linebacker Logan Charters (4) ) will be on duty for top-ranked Lowell when they play on the road at Highland in a Class 4A Sectional 17 semifinal game next Friday. (Photo by Mark Smith)

LOWELL (10-22-2017) In week one of the playoffs, some teams won, some teams lost and some teams sat home and watched the Cubs.

So there were two sets of losers.

Around the state, in Class 1A No. 1 Pioneer eliminated No. 6 Carroll 55-21. And Lafayette Catholic (3-7) is not done. They nipped No. 4 Tri-County 35-28. In Class 2A, all of the top 10 teams won state wide. In Class 3A, the top nine teams all won and advanced. The shakedown came in 4A where two of the top four teams in the state lost.

Most all the top-10 in 5A and 6A got a bye.

Bishop Noll lost to Gary Roosevelt and Noll will begin 2018 with a 33-game losing streak.

The big game in 2A is No. 1 Eastbrook (10-0) at No. 8 Rensselaer (8-2).

What follows now is the state football tournament we should have. The top 32 teams in each the state classes playing off in the final five weeks.

1. (4A) LOWELL (10-0)
2016 (9-5), 2015 (12-1), 2014 (8-5), 2013 (6-4), 2012 (5-5), 2011 (5-5)


LOWELL: The Devils started the playoffs with a 41-0 win over out-manned Gary West Side. It was 34-0 at the half and West Side finished with a total of four yards gained. Lowell now travels to Highland (4-6) to take on the Trojans again in a Class 4A Sectional 17 semifinal. The Devils won the earlier Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) matchup 27-0 in Highland. The best news for Lowell came from out of town where 4A No. 4 Northridge (9-0) lost to Culver Academy 35-12. In Evansville, 4A No. 2 Reitz lost to 4A No. 3 Evansville Central. You don't get to the state finals by playing every other ranked team you can find. It helps when some of the big boys stumble and fall out of your way.


2. (6A) Valparaiso (8-1)
2016 (5-5), 2015 (7-3), 2014 (2-8), 2013 (3-7), 2012 (3-7)


VALPO: Valpo enjoyed the bye week. Now a matchup with 6A No. 4 Penn (8-1) in the Sectional 2 semifinals. QB Jake Leffew will return from injury to lead the offense. I've heard some talk that the Vikings might want to say with the other two QBs they've played most of the season. Those boys have helped win games. They better put that out of their mind. Word is Penn is much improved since a season opening 12-7 loss to Valpo. When you have Jacoby Brissett and Andrew Luck gets healthy in time for the playoffs... you play Andrew Luck and you don't think twice about it.


3. (6A) LaPorte (6-3)
2016 (9-2), 2015 (6-4), 2014 (8-6), 2013 (1-9), 2012 (1-9)

LaPORTE: There's an old football theory, which I just made up, and it says: A bye week helps the running attack and hurts the passing offense. The reason: Passing is timing which is only hurt by idle time. Running is strength, power and quickness and a weak off helps boys with that. So nobody probably likes the bye week more than LaPorte, which gained 3,673 yards on 566 carries (408 yards per game) during the regular season. Halfback Drayson Nespo (193 carries, 1,371 yards, 17 TDs) and QB Nolan Lorenz (86 carries, 662 yards, 9 TDs) should be ready to go in the 5A Sectional 9 semifinals next Friday against South Bend Adams (3-6).


4. (4A) New Prairie (9-1)
2016 (9-3), 2015 (6-4), 2014 (13-2), 2013 (12-1), 2012 (9-2)


NEW CARLISLE: New Prairie puts the white wash on Washington 56-0 last week to begin the playoffs. Northwest Indiana's 'forgotten team' won for the ninth week in a row and they scored 40 or more for the ninth week in a row. This week the 'Bart Curtis Bowl' where coach Curtis' present team, Mishawaka (6-4) takes on his former team New Prairie (9-1) back on the prairie at New Carlisle. The pregame talk between Curtis and Russ Radtke would probably be worth the price of admission.

5. (5A) Michigan City (6-3)
2016 (7-4), 2015 (2-7), 2014 (4-6), 2013 (2-8), 2012 (2-8)


MICHIGAN CITY: Michigan City surely welcomed the week off after two two-point games the last two weeks. The Wolves know it's hard to go on the road in the state tournament and they won't be overlooking Munster (4-5) this week, especially since second year coach Phil Mason faced the Mustangs many, many times when he was at Andrean. Deep in the secret football boiler room at MC, however, Wolves coaches must already be plotting on how to stop the 'unstoppable' rushing attack of LaPorte in what would be the 5A Sectional 9 championship game on Nov. 3.


6. (4A) Morton (8-2)
2016 (4-7), 2015 (6-5), 2014 (10-2), 2013 (8-2)


HAMMOND: Morton laid the lumber to East Chicago 27-0 in the 4A Sectional 17 quarterfinals last week. The Governors intercepted five passes and halfback Eric Johnson ran 37 times for a hard-earned 109 yards. Morton committed 17 penalties as they have a lot of problems on offense. But ready or not, Morton gets the game they wanted, the matchup with Greater South Shore Conference (GSSC) champion Griffith (9-1). Griffith averages 50 points a game, but they have not seen a defense like Morton's all year. Griffith also has not seen a team that commits 17 penalties and expects to win.

7. (6A) Crown Point (5-4)
2016 (6-6), 2015 (1-9), 2014 (8-4), 2013 (6-4)


CROWN POINT: Crown Point welcomed the bye week. The Bulldogs ran for 1,909 yards in nine games (212 yards a game) and rushing teams need the bye week more than passing teams. Remember that. Hard running teams are bad weather teams and bad weather is coming. Put your T-shirts away kids. Projected temperatures for sectional semifinals night is low-50s and high-40s, with a chance of rain. Crown Point also welcomes the Class 6A Sectional 1 rematch with Merrillville (1-8). The Pirates only win came 34-26 over Crown Point in September.


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Revised: October 21, 2017 .