The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2020 NW Indiana High School Football Week-12 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



It's about time. Time that Lowell went back to Hobart for the Class 4A Sectional 17 championship game. The Brickies beat Lowell 20-0 last year for the Sectional 17 championship and the rematch is this Friday again in Hobart. (Photo by Mark Smith)

MERRILLVILLE (11-06-2020) While this poll is, of course, the poll of reknown, there is another poll that some folks pay attention to.

The Associated Press has a weekly poll that a couple of people pay attention to and, after two weeks of the 48th Indiana state football tournament, the poll seems accurate, at least, at the top. All six of the top ranked teams in last monthís final Associated Press poll, are still alive in the state tournament as we reach the sectional championship week.


Class 1A South Adams (10-0) has not been challenged all season. Adams' week five game with Monroe Central (7-2) ended in a 31-14 South Adams win. Monroe Central got a rematch last week and South Adams beat team 48-7.


Class 2A No. 1 Andrean (10-1) has been riding the wave since a season-opening loss to 6A No. 7 Merrillville back in August. Andrean is a school which has had so much athletic success that I think they welcome being ranked number one in anything. The top rank is like an expensive suit that they wear proudly.

Same is true for Bishop Chatard, which has won a state record 14 Indiana state football championships. The Class 3A Trojans probably donít feel the pressure of being number one. They probably feel the pressure when they are NOT number one.

Iíll be honest. Iíve been to nearly every place in Indiana, but I have never been to Mount Vernon high in Fortville. But if your team name is Ďthe Maraudersí you must be tough. Class 4A No. 1 Mt. Vernon is 11-0 overall and 7-0 on the road.

In Class 5A, Cathedral (9-1) is No. 1. Cathedral is the team that plays three teams from Ohio or Kentucky every year because very few teams in Indiana will play them. I don't think anyone from Northwest Indiana has ever played Indianapolis Cathedral during the regular season.

And 6A No. 1 Center Grove is the only team to beat Cathedral (a come-from-behind 17-13 win) this season. Nobody has scored more than 14 points on Center Grove in any game this year. This Friday, CG plays a Columbus East (8-2) team that averages 43 points a game. Hope East can get by on 14 points this week.

Weíll hold the next poll until after the regional championship games on November 13. I expect that at least three Northwest Indiana teams will still be playing at that point. The question is: Which three?

1. (6A) Merrillville (8-1)
2019 (11-2), 2018 (7-4), 2017 (1-9), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-5)


MERRILLVILLE: Merrillville scored 16 points in the first six minutes and rolled over Crown Point 39-0 in the Class 6A Sectional 1 semifinals. Running back Lavarion Logan gained 119 yards on 19 carries and quarterback Angel Nelson threw two more touchdown passes, giving him 19 for the season. CP was held to just 77 total yards. And now it's time. Merrillville will try to repeat as Sectional 1 champs when they welcome in undefeated Jefferson (10-0) and the Bronchosí 52-points-per-game offense. The Pirates have allowed 115 points all season. Somethingís got to give.

2. (5A) Valparaiso (6-0)
2019 (13-1), 2018 (10-2), 2017 (8-2), 2016 (5-5), 2015 (7-3)


VALPARAISO: Valpo turned back an upset bid from Michigan City 21-14 last Friday. Halfback Tommy Burbee ran 25 times for 120 yards and a 69-yard touchdown. Kicker Liam Shepherd booted field goals of 22 and 28 yards. It's not a compliment for your offense when youíve kicked a lot of field goals, but Shepherd is having a great year with 10 field goals in 13 attempts. Thatís 10 field goals in six games. Valparaiso hits the road for the 5A Sectional 9 championship game in LaPorte (4-6) Friday and they may be OK with that assignment because it means the Vikings would host a regional championship game on November 13.

3.) (2A) Andrean (10-1)
2019 (10-4), 2018 (10-2), 2017 (8-4), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-4)


MERRILLVILLE: Andrean coasted past Whiting 38-6 last week to reach the 2A Sectional 33 championship game. The 59ers defeated Boone Grove 44-0 in the quarterfinals. The 59ers are a heavy load for Class 2A public schools and they got a great draw which keeps them at home this week against Rensselaer (7-4). I know someone at the 59th street school noticed that Eastbrook, the team that eliminated Andrean at the 2A Northern semistate in 2019, lost to Tipton 56-39 last week. The 59ers are probably eyeing Rensselaer with some concern after the Bombers scored five touchdowns on them last year in a 44-34 Andrean victory.

.) (4A) Hobart (8-2)
2019 (11-3), 2018 (7-3), 2017 (6-4), 2016 (10-3), 2015 (5-5)


HOBART: Hobart reached the Class 4A Sectional 17 championship game with back-to-back shutouts 56-0 over Gavit and 70-0 over Gary West Side. Thatís 15 consecutive scoreless quarters for the Hobart defense going back to a 44-6 win over Highland on October 9. Hobart has allowed just 91 points all season and they have shut out five teams. Will Lowell (9-1) be the sixth? The Devils are headed to Hobart for the championship game Friday night. Hobart blanked Lowell 20-0 in the 2019 Sectional 17 championship game.


5.) Chesterton (5-4)
2019 (6-4), 2018 (3-7), 2017 (4-6), 2016 (2-8), 2015 (8-3)


CHESTERTON: Chesterton finally beat Penn for the first time ever, 20-14 last week (Penn eliminated Chesterton in the 2013 and 2014 Class 6A Sectional 2 championship games) and the Trojans have arrived at the moment of truth. In the previous 47 years of the IHSAA state football tournament, Chesterton has never won a sectional championship. And now, all they have to do to get that first trophy is beat undefeated Elkhart (8-0) in Elkhart. No one has stopped the Elkhart Lions all season. They average 44 points a game. But the Trojan victory last week was the first Chesterton win in a playoff game since 2015. They Trojans have the game they want.

.) (4A) LOWELL (9-1)
2019 (7-5), 2018 (10-3), 2017 (14-1), 2016 (9-5)


LOWELL: Lowell reached the Class 4A Sectional 17 title game with back-to-back home wins over Morton 21-0 and Highland 48-14 and now they put it all on the line. The Devils won Sectional 17 from 2013 to 2018 before they were rejected in the sectional final game 20-0 last year at Hobart. The great thing about the way the IHSAA sectionals are set up is that you often meet an old rival. Someone from your league. A team you know well. The Devils were to play Hobart in week five but the game was a Covid-19 virus casualty. But judgment day is here.

7.) (5A) Michigan City (4-3)
2019 (4-6), 2018 (10-3), 2017 (9-4), 2016 (7-4)


MICHIGAN CITY: Michigan City gave Valparaiso a battle but lost 21-14 last week in the Class 5A Sectional 9 championship game to end their 2020 season. Quarterback Giovanni Laurent was injured in the game and it slowed him, but the junior was 13 of 26 for 160 yards. MC will benefit from having Laurent back in 2021 and they will also benefit from Valparaiso going back to Class 6A next season. Throw in the new Class 5A schools in Hammond and Sectional 9 will be all new next season.


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Revised: November 05, 2020 .