The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2018 NW Indiana High School Football Week-13 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



  • Lowell senior Ethan Igras (16) has been the starting quarterback on three consecutive sectional champions. He'll lead the Red Devils' offense in the regional showdown at Class 4A No. 2 Mishawaka (11-1) next Friday night. (Photo by Mark Smith)

VALPARAISO (11-05-2018) It's time for the post-sectional poll. After teams have reached or fallen short of their No. 1 goal.

Who is here and why. First of all. Whiting (12-0) and Crown Point (5-6) are not in the poll this week even though they are certified sectional champions. Why not?

For one, the season’s not over yet.

CP could get in with a win this week at Valparaiso. But right now, the Bulldogs have lost to four of the teams here (Valparaiso, Michigan City, Lowell and Merrillville) and a couple of teams Chesterton and Portage) that are not here.

It’s a very big deal to win three consecutive Class 6A sectionals and CP did it this year by defeating two teams that beat them during the regular season.

Nobody plays on the varsity at CP as a freshman so CP’s present seniors, the Class of 2019, will leave school never having lost a sectional game. I’d rather do that than win the conference title three years in a row.

But right now, they’d be No. 8 in a 7-team poll.

Whiting (12-0) is a tougher call. The Oilers ended the regular season as the Class 2A No. 3 ranked team. In 12 games, no one has come within 10 points of beating them. Whiting beat Griffith (8-3) by a 30-6 score and Boone Grove (9-3) by a 37-19 score.

But to rank them here suggests I think they could be competitive with the teams ranked here and with the schedule they play, I’m not nearly convinced of that yet.

But the season is not over.

1. (6A) Valparaiso (9-2)
2017 (8-2), 2016 (5-5), 2015 (7-3), 2014 (2-8), 2013 (3-7)


VALPARAISO – Valpo is the undisputed No. 1 team after a 21-0 win at Class 6A No. 9 Penn. The Vikings held Penn to just 95 total yards in winning their ninth game in a row. Quarterback CJ Opperman was 9-of-19 for 156 yards in the biggest game of the season. The Vikings’ defense has allowed 106 points all season after allowing just 96 points (in 10 games) last season. There’s almost no better feeling than winning the sectional on the road and playing the regional championship at home. That’s what Valpo will do next Friday against rival Crown Point (5-6).

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


MICHIGAN CITY – MC coasted to the Class 5A Sectional 2 title with a 49-7 win at outmanned LaPorte (4-7). The Wolves led 35-0 at the half as quarterback Bryce Hayman ran for three short TDs and passed for 190 yards. Michigan City has not played a team with a winning record since September. But after early losses to Homewood-Flossmoor (10-1) and Valparaiso (9-2), no one has challenged them. MC’s final home game will be Friday and they also get to play Concord (6-5), a team that has allowed 275 points in 11 games. These are good times.


3. (3A) Andrean (10-2)
2017 (8-4), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-4), 2014 (14-1)


MERRILLVILLE – The 59ers got wiped out for the second consecutive season in the Class 3A Sectional 25 championship game at West Lafayette. The 59ers led 10-0 and then were swamped 42-21 by an obviously superior team. QB Zack Merrill, who was 15 of 29 for 155 yards, was intercepted three times and all three were run back for touchdowns. West Lafayette beat Andrean 56-10 in the sectional championship game last season and they ended the season with losses to Merrillville (7-4) and WL (12-0). The 59ers are 0-2 the last two years against West Lafayette and 18-4 against everybody else.

4. (4A) Lowell (10-2)

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

LOWELL – Lowell led all the way, but had to hold on in the end to defeat Morton 20-14 for the Class 4A Sectional 17 championship. Tyler Wildman ran for two TDs and junior Nate Gard kicked his 12th and 13th field goals of the season as Lowell the Devils won the sectional for the fifth year in a row. Lowell allowed exactly 14 points in all three sectional playoff games. The Devils have allowed 121 points (10.1 average, all season) this season after allowing 103 points in 15 games (6.8 per game) in 2017. The Devils have lost only to Portage (4-6) and Andrean (10-2). Lowell now hits the road to take on Class 4A No. 2 Mishawaka (11-1) and 2,400-yard rusher Chris Harkness.


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

MERRILLVILLE – Merrillville outgained Crown Point 413-209, but lost 17-13 to Crown Point in a season-ending upset. It marked the third consecutive season that CP has eliminated Merrillville. For 2019, the Pirates do return passing QB Aahric Whtehead, who was 15 of 28 for 233 yards, rushing QB Peter Rodriguez who ran 10 times for 79 yards, WR Armani Glass, who caught seven passes for 106 yards plus running backs Roderick Bell (800 yards rushing), and Darius Schultz (11 TDs rushing). But there’s no way to make losing to your arch-rival in the playoffs three years in a row feel any better.

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

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


NEW CARLISLE – New Prairie is still in the 'Magnificent-7', despite four losses, because of who the losses were to. New Prairie lost to St. Joe (7-5), Penn (8-3), Mishawaka (11-1) and Andrean (10-2).
The Cougars played a significantly more difficult schedule than did Lowell or Andrean. I think losing to a lot of good teams is better than beating a lot of .500 teams, but you can argue the point when your season ends as early as New Prairie’s did.


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


HAMMOND – I thought Morton played well in the 2018 4A Sectional 17 championship game loss at Lowell last Friday. The Governors were much better than they were in a 38-0 Labor Day weekend loss at Lowell. Junior QB Credell Prather was 16 of 28 for 224 yards and he ended the regular season with 2,000 yards passing and 24 TD passes. The Governors now need to get to work on their regular season schedule. A Morton-Merrillville game would not be outrageous.


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Revised: November 04, 2018 .