The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2019 NW Indiana High School Football Week-11 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



The Pirates will fly their flag high against undefeated Jefferson (9-0) this Friday night in a pivotal game in the Class 6A playoffs. (Photo by Mark Smith)

VALPARAISO (10-28-2019) The entire landscape of the Class 5A playoffs was changed when Elkhart Memorial and Central moved towards consolidation, pushing the Valparaiso Vikings from 6A to 5A. Valpo is a heavy favorite in Class 5A in the north.

I’m not sure what’s next, but for the record: In South Bend, three high schools are projected to continue to have significant enrollment drops.

While Adams, according to a South Bend Tribune story of October 20, had 1,751 students in 2016 and is projected to have 1,886 teens in 2020, Riley, Clay and Washington are getting smaller.

Riley, which had 1,308 kids in 2016, is expected to have 1,061 next fall. Clay, which had 1,259 students in 2016, is slated to have just 907 teens next fall. Clay was built for over 1,750 students.

Washington had 943 kids in 2016 and will have just 737 next fall in a building built for over 1,800.

South Bend schools have a projected budget loss of $17 million dollars next year, so they have to do something. They have to close a high school. Which one is not certain.

Washington is the only one of the four schools on South Bend’s west side. I don't see Washington closing. But, and this is just me talking, either Clay or Riley is living on borrowed time.
For the record, Adams is 5A. Clay and Riley are 4A and South Bend Washington is 3A. Combining Clay and Riley makes the new school a Class 5A school. But if Washington’s enrollment keeps dropping, they will soon be Class 2A for football.

I’m not saying that any of this will happen. But the word from South Bend is that the public high school situation is about to undergo a significant change.

One note: Thanks to the Times newspaper for consistently printing high school box scores on Sunday. My man Joey Ondo was 16 of 26 for 277 yards and two touchdowns in River Forests’ 57-26 win over Benton Central in the 3A Sectional 25 quarterfinals.

I don't expect the local newspapers to cover every game, and with several other big schools playing, I don't expect them to send a writer to Oxford to write a story on River Forest at BC game.

But they ran the box score and the box score IS the story of the game. Thanks again.

1. (5A) Valparaiso (9-0)
2018 (10-2), 2017 (8-2), 2016 (5-5), 2015 (7-3), 2014 (2-8)


VALPARAISO – Valpo enjoyed the bye week and they don't figure to be challenged by Munster in the Class 5A Sectional 9 semifinals. Valpo’s sectional title foe in Section 9 would be either Michigan City or LaPorte, teams they have already defeated. Vikings coaches surely are doing long range preliminary scouting this week, although they can't admit that.


2. (6A) Merrillville (8-1)
2018 (7-4), 2017 (1-9), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-5), 2014 (6-6)


MERRILLVILLE – Here comes judgment day for Merrillville as they face a Class 6A Sectional 2 semifinal against second-ranked Jefferson (9-0) and quarterback Matt Grimes (104 of 158, 1,811 yards, 19 TDs, 2 interceptions. The good news is that the Pirates get Mother Nature on their side with a forecast of freezing weather and light snow or rain. Merrillville will need all the help they can get this Friday against a team that averages 55 points a game.


3. (4A) New Prairie (8-1)
2018 (7-4), 2017 (11-2), 2016 (9-3), 2015 (6-4)


NEW CARLISLE – The Cougars rolled over Riley 56-13 to advance to the semifinals in 4A Sectional 18. New Prairie is built for November with a rough running game that averages over 350 yards per night. The Cougars have won seven of their last 10 sectional playoff games and bad weather is their friend. Wind and cold don't affect you if you run the ball 50 times. Let it snow.


4.) Chesterton (6-3)
2018 (3-7), 2017 (4-6), 2016 (2-8), 2015 (8-3)


CHESTERTON – The Trojans took the week off to get ready for Warsaw (6-3) in the 5A Sectional 9 semifinals, but I’m a little worried about them. The Trojans pass 20 times a game. Chesterton often uses five wide receivers and no running backs at all. Warsaw runs 90% of the time. That’s probably not good news for the Trojans on a predicted winter-like night where throwing a football may be like throwing a big, brown rock. But with two weeks to work on things, lets see how Chesterton tries to do what they do. Am I still sure that Chesterton is still better than Hobart? Let me get back to you on that one.


5.) Hobart (7-2)
2018 (7-3), 2017 (6-4), 2016 (10-3), 2015 (5-5)


HOBART – Hobart continues to stomp all comers. Morton was just another victim as the Brickies won 42-21 in the Class 4A Sectional 17 quarterfinals. Matthew Benton intercepted two passes and he probably leads the state with nine pass interceptions this season. The Brickies have now won eight in a row and they host Highland (4-6) in the Sectional 17 semifinals.


6.) Crown Point (5-4)
2018 (5-7), 2017 (7-5), 2016 (6-6), 2015 (1-9), 2014 (8-2)


CROWN POINT – Crown Point took the week getting ready to face Lake Central (3-6) in the 6A Sectional Semifinals. CP’s losses are to Lowell (6-4), Chesterton (7-2), Merrillville (8-1) and Valparaiso (9-0) and all those teams could still be in the state tourney after Friday. I think that the unit that most needs a week off during the football season is the offensive line and CP had injury issues there. Everybody is going to have to run effectively this Friday with the predicted weather. Last season has nothing to do with this season, but the Bulldogs have reached the sectional title game three years in a row and they have found a way to win.

7.) (4A) Morton (8-2)
2018 (9-3), 2017 (8-3), 2016 (4-7), 2015 (6-5)


HAMMOND – Morton could not do what they do against Hobart, losing 42-21 to end their season. The Governors early season problems with turnovers and penalties came back in the house against the Brickies, who grabbed four pass interceptions. The Governors also gave up 250 yards rushing. All they can do is come back next year with backup QB Paris Hewett (49 of 88, 1,092 yards and 17 TDs) and top receiver Jo Jo Johnson. I still think Morton is better than Boone Grove (10-0) and Andrean (7-3) but this isn't the final poll of the season.


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Revised: October 27, 2019 .