The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2019 NW Indiana High School Football Week-13 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



On November 9, 2012, Andrean defeated Lewis Cass 67-66 in a five overtime regional championship game. The rematch for the 2019 Class 2A regional title is Friday night at Andrean. (Photo by Mark Smith)

VALPARAISO (11-12-2019) You probably weren't at a high school football game last Friday night because it was 27 degrees at 7 p.m. local time.

That alone would make anyone with an instinct for self-preservation or, at the very least, a minimum amount of common sense stay home or at least indoors.

But all IHSAA sectional games were played Friday. None were played Saturday when the temperature was predicted to (and actually) rose significantly.

No one that I know of even considered moving the Friday games in sub-freezing temperatures to Saturday so they could be played in 35-40 degree weather and sunshine.

Why not?

I’ve talked about this many times before and the response is always along the lines of:

“Football is meant to be played in the cold.”

“Boys are tough. They can take it”

“Mark, haven't you ever heard of ‘Froday Night Lights??? It's football!!! It has to be played on Friday night.”

My question still stands.

If 27 degrees is not cold enough to postpone a high school football game, then what is? How cold does it have to get before you postpone an event involving high school boys. Seventeen degrees? Seven degrees?

If we’re going to play football outdoors at night in late November, how cold does it have to get before we postpone the game to Saturday afternoon?

Games last Friday were played in front of half empty stadiums, at best. Fans suffered or stayed home. Play on the field was clearly affected.  All the games were completed and nobody froze to death. Hours later, all stadiums sat empty in the Saturday sunshine.

I don't get it. The state championship games in Class 2A, 4A and 6A are all to be played on Saturday at the Lucas Oil Arena, right?

But the 2A, 4A and 6A regional and semistate games MUST be played Friday night even if it's 27 degrees? Even if its 17 degrees? Even if it's seven degrees?

The top four teams in the poll stay the same but there’s a fast-riser at number five.

1. (5A) Valparaiso (11-0)
2018 (10-2), 2017 (8-2), 2016 (5-5), 2015 (7-3), 2014 (2-8)


VALPARAISO – Valpo topped LaPorte 35-0 in September and the Vikings defeated LaPorte 45-0 last week for the 5A Sectional 9 championship. The Vikings held LaPorte to 149 total yards and the Viking defense scored two touchdowns. Now we get to find out if the assumption that I (for one) have made about Valpo is accurate. The Vikings are, in some respects, a 6A team playing in Class 5A due to the consolidation of the Elkhart schools (It's a long story). Valpo plays a 6A schedule most weeks. That superiority should show up now as they get outside of Northwest Indiana and play quality Class 5A schools. The first such school is Mishawaka (9-2), which hosts Valpo for the 5A regional title this Friday night.


2. (6A) Merrillville (10-1)
2018 (7-4), 2017 (1-9), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-5), 2014 (6-6)


MERRILLVILLE – The Pirates, who have lost only to Valpo (11-0), survived 12 penalties to nip arch-rival Crown Point 10-9 to win the schools’ 12th sectional championship. It was an ugly game which the Pirates' defense won with five turnover/takeaways. The Merrillville defense has five pass interceptions in two playoff games. What worries you about Merrillville is that the cold weather seems to have limited their offense. “Running QB” Peter Rodriguez seemed to play more than ‘passing QB” Aahric Whitehead last week in 27-degree weather at Crown Point. Here comes a Warsaw team that didn't complete a pass last week in beating Penn 35-18. Merrillville needs an offensive revival this Friday.


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


NEW CARLISLE – The Cougars outlasted Plymouth 35-27 for the Class 4A Sectional 18 championship last week. The run-all-night Cougars average 350 yards per game and when the November weather cripples other teams' passing flow, New Prairie just says ‘Let it snow’ and averages 43 points a game. The state tournament is designed for you to keep advancing until you find someone who can stop you. Is that team Hobart (10-2), the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) champion? We will know late Friday in the Class 4A regional championship game in Hobart.


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


HOBART – Hobart held defending 4A Sectional 17 champ Lowell to just 61 total yards in a 20-0 win as the Brickies became sectional champs for the 21st time. The Brickies have five shutouts in 12 games and they know they won't shut out the jacked up running game of New Prairie. But can the quick and strong Hobart defense stop the ground invasion from New Prairie? That’s one of the biggest regional football questions in this part of the state this Friday night.


5.) (2A) Andrean (9-3)
2018 (10-2), 2017 (8-4), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-4)


MERRILLVILLE – Andrean outran Rensselaer 44-34 for the Class 2A Sectional 33 championship last week yards in a game that wasn't totally flattering to the 59ers. I’m looking at a box score that had Rensselaer running 56 times for 468 yards against a 59er defense that hadn't been smoked like that all season. Not by Merrillville. Not by New Prairie. But 59er halfback Ryan Wash ran 21 times for 167 yards. All-purpose back Nick Flesher scored three TDs. Andrean led all the way but the 468 rushing yards against them is a major red flag. It should be noted, however, that the 59ers have lost only to 6A No. 5 Merrillville (10-1), 4A No. 4 New Prairie (11-1) and NCC champion Hobart (10-2). So 2A No. 1 Lewis Cass (11-1) isn't going to scare the 59ers. Warm up the scoreboard for this one as both teams won't be stopped from scoring.


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


CHESTERTON – The Trojans' 35-28 loss to Warsaw doesn't look so bad now that Warsaw (9-2) is a sectional champ. Chesterton QB Chris Mullen ended his sophomore season with 151 completions in 284 attempts for 2,439 yards and 26 touchdowns. Of the sectional finalist teams that I now of which ‘had never won a sectional’, Warsaw won, Calumet and Chesterton loss in the sectional championship games. So the mission for the Trojans is clear. They want to win in November this time next year.


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


CROWN POINT – Crown Point battled down to the last minute in a 10-9 loss to arch-rival Merrillville, losing the sectional championship game for the first time in four years. The CP defense held Merrillville (10-1) to just 185 total yards, but five turnovers ended the CP season. I drop them down because Andrean is clearly on the rise and because CP never did beat a team with a winning record.


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Revised: November 13, 2019 .