The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2018 NW Indiana High School Football Week-12 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



  • The '6 degrees of Merrillville football separation':

    The Pirates have lost to Valparaiso and Penn, who play for the 6A Sectional 2 title this Friday.

    The Pirates lost to Michigan City, which plays LaPorte for the 5A Sectional 9 title this Friday.

    The Pirates defeated Andrean, who plays West Lafayette this Friday for the 3A Sectional 25 title.

    The Pirates scrimmage Lowell, who plays Morton for the 4A Sectional 17 title this Friday.

    Merrillville grad Sean Kinsey is coach of Morton, who plays Lowell for the sectional championship this Friday.

    In September, the Pirates won 26-21 over Crown Point, who plays Merrillville for the 6A Sectional 1 title this Friday. (Photo by Mark Smith)

VALPARAISO (10-29-2018) Many nights in sectional play in all sports you face a team you also met during the regular season. The advantage goes to the team that won the first game, but does that mean the rematch goes the same way the first game did?

In our poll here, six of the seven teams (Michigan City-Munster was the exception) faced rematches of games they faced during the nine-game regular season.

To me, rematches involving teams of similar ability come down to revenge vs. confidence.

Is the knowledge that you beat a team earlier this season stronger than their opponent's desire to avenge that loss?

The team that won the regular season match is at a slight disadvantage because they don’t went too change too many things. The ‘revenge’ team has a good idea what you’ll do, because you don’t want to change things that worked the first time.

On the other hand, once the game begins, if the team that won the first meeting takes the lead in the rematch, the ‘confidence’ team becomes much more confident, while the revenge team loses some belief.

That’s the ‘theme’ for this week’s poll.

Me? I’d rather be the confidence team. I’d rather have won the first meeting, no matter how close the game was. Defeat is a pre-game motivator, but I don't think revenge is the asset that confidence is once the game begins.

Only 96 teams get to November under the present IHSAA football tournament format and the road gets hard at this point.
But everybody is playing for a trophy this Friday night. Your goal is to get to November and we are here.

Every game in November is for a championship.

1. (6A) Valparaiso (8-2)
2017 (8-2), 2016 (5-5), 2015 (7-3), 2014 (2-8), 2013 (3-7)


VALPARAISO – Valpo topped Chesterton 23-0 in September and the rematch went to Valpo again last Friday 55-7. The Vikings have allowed just 56 points in their last eight games. And here we are. Valpo began the season with a 21-3 loss at Penn (8-2) and 11 weeks later, they return to Penn for the Class 6A Sectional 1 championship game this coming Friday. Valpo’s probably been thinking about the rematch with Penn all season. Planning. Motivating. But now that it's here, it's still playing the five-time defending regional champion, the 9th-ranked Class 6A team in the state on their home field in front of their home crowd.

2. (5A) Michigan City (8-2)
2017 (9-4), 2016 (7-4), 2015 (2-7), 2014 (4-6), 2013 (2-8), 2012 (2-8)


MICHIGAN CITY – MC was able to score at will on Munster 72-19 in the Class 5A Sectional 2 semifinals. The Wolves led 35-0 at the quarter and 58-0 at halftime before they eased up on the
outmanned Mustangs (2-8). Halfback Lyric McFarrin carried just nine times, but scored three touchdowns. The 73 points is a Michigan City school record. MC’s two losses look better and better all the time. Valparaiso (8-2) and Homewood-Flossmoor (9-1) are still alive in state tournament play. So is New Palestine (10-0), the team Michigan City would see at semistate if both schools simply win the games they are supposed to win. The goal for MC in sectional play is not to get anyone hurt while they’re winning. They travel to arch rival LaPorte (4-6) next week to try to repeat as 5A Sectional 9 champs.


3. (3A) Andrean (10-1)
2017 (8-4), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-4), 2014 (14-1)


MERRILLVILLE – The 59ers defeated Hanover Central 24-0 in August and the rematch went to Andrean 44-12 last week. Neither game was a rout but neither game was close. Many times the team that wins the first meeting also wins the second time because they’re the better team. All 10 of Andrean’s victories have been by 20 points or more and the Merrillville (7-3) team that defeated them 20-14 in August is still winning. Okay, here’s the rematch the 59ers wanted. In 2017, Andrean was 8-3 when they went to West Lafayette and lost 56-10. It is 12 months later and undefeated West Lafayette (11-0) is the opponent for Andrean next week. Revenge vs. confidence.


4. (6A) Merrillville (7-3)
2017 (1-9), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-5), 2014 (6-6)

MERRILLVILLE – Merrillville defeated Lake Central 31-14 on October 5 and last week they defeated Lake Central again 42-14. Merrillville has lost only to Penn (8-2), Valparaiso (8-2) and Michigan City (8-2), so it's been a good year. But for them to get another shot at Penn or Valpo, the Pirates must win another rematch. In September, Merrillville rallied in the final two minutes to beat Crown Point 26-21. They have the confidence. They also have an unusual amount of familiarity, especially in the senior class. This will be the sixth meeting of CP and Merrillville in the last three years, meaning if you played on the Pirates’ varsity as a sophomore, this is the sixth time you are playing Crown Point.

5. (4A) Lowell (9-2)

2017 (14-1), 2016 (9-5), 2015 (9-5), 2014 (12-1)

LOWELL – Lowell’s 42-14 win over Griffith wasn't a rematch and that fact didn’t work well for the Panthers. Obviously you play different teams every week, but the Lowell team that scored 150 points (21.4 ppg.) in its first seven games has scored 128 points (32 ppg,) in the last four. And in the last four games, Lowell has faced Highland (4-6), Hobart (6-3), Griffith (7-3) and Andrean (10-1). Their points scored have gone up as, arguably, the level of competition has gone up. But here comes that rematch. This Friday, Lowell plays Morton (9-2), a team they defeated 38-0 in September. The rematch won't be 38-0.


6. (4A) Morton (9-2)
2017 (8-3), 2016 (4-7), 2015 (6-5), 2014 (10-2)


HAMMOND – Morton stomped East Chicago 56-9 on October 5 and they swamped them again 48-9 last week. This might be the best test case for my confidence vs. revenge theory. Morton now plays Lowell, a team they lost to 38-0 on September 1. Since that night, the Governors have been re-elected in nine consecutive games by a combined score of 354-63. That’s not a misprint. Morton has scored 354 points (39.3 ppg.) in their last nine games. But when they get back to that field at Lowell (9-2) this Friday, will the Governors be more of the team that’s won nine in a row or the team that lost 38-0 on Labor Day weekend. East Chicago (6-5) is the only team with a winning record that Morton has defeated. EC and Lowell are the only teams with winning records that Morton has played.

7. (4A) New Prairie (6-4)

2017 (11-2), 2016 (9-3), 2015 (6-4), 2014 (13-2)


NEW CARLISLE – Here’s where the rematch jumped up and bites you. New Prairie defeated St. Joseph’s 41-28 in September and St. Joseph’s won the rematch 42-30 last Friday. St. Joe is a very deceptive program. Much like Andrean, they play larger schools all season and then get to go against public schools in the playoffs. I think NP had a better season than Hobart (7-3) or Boone Grove (9-2) or Whiting (11-0), although Whiting is in the neighborhood. New Prairie lost to St. Joe (7-4), Penn (8-2), Mishawaka (10-1) and Andrean (10-1). It was without question a good year, but they actually didn’t win anything.


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Revised: October 30, 2018 .