The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2018 NW Indiana High School Football Week-2 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Lowell got 80 yards and a TD rushing from halfback Tyler Wildman (32) in a 17-7 win at Crown Point last week (08-17-2018). (Photo by Mark Smith)

LOWELL (08-18-2018) It used to be you ran out of Saturday mornings in the fall to get the newspaper to check up on the Friday night games.

Especially if you wanted to rank them. That’s not so easy now.

Local newspapers (not just in Northwest Indiana) have decided to offer only token coverage of the Friday night football games in the Saturday paper. Why?

I’m just guessing.

1.) But they want you to buy on-line subscriptions and read about the games that way. They need to get that revenue coming in a more low-cost way. They don’t want to print and deliver newspapers in the 20th Century way. Some of us old folks like to buy a paper paper, but it's easier to put photos and stories on line and ask readers to find them.

2.) Obviously, newspapers have had to cut their reporting staffs and budgets so much they can't afford to cover ten high school games in person on Friday night and get them all in the Saturday paper. They don't have the man (or woman) power.

What’s the future?

In a high school heavy area like Northwest Indiana with at least 35 schools in a six-county area, I wonder if an independently-run high school sports news service is a possibility.

An on-line organizational co-op (including the high schools themselves) that raises money and takes donations solely to cover high school sports events and supply print media with the details to fill their pages without the papers having to actually ‘staff’ the games.

The money would be raised at events and part of the sports media work force required would be volunteer (or low-pay) high school students. Some big schools like Crown Point and Chesterton already have student-run TV or radio stations (at CP its ‘CP-TV’). In my proposed set-up, student newspaper or TV reporters would be the event reporters for the local professional media, which would retain its writers and editors for columns and features, which is the personality of the paper anyway. The co-op would provide base content with which they newspaper could do what they wish.
There are sites like the Regional Sports Network and Regional Radio Sports which do a fine job of covering sports. But I'm talking about an independent news service made up of students and independent contractors who could ‘man’ far more events that any newspaper ever could.

To be done on the scale (remember, 35 schools) that could cover all team sports, it would take an up-front, 'get off the ground’ funding effort and lots of coordination, but the pieces are there.

Just a thought.

A while ago, I stopped putting out a pre-season poll because I don't know anything before any games are played. Simple as that.

I may not know anything after the first week either, but here it is.

1. (6A) Valparaiso (0-1)
2017 (8-2), 2016 (5-5), 2015 (7-3), 2014 (2-8), 2013 (3-7), 2012 (3-7)


VALPARAISO – I’m staying with Valparaiso as the No. 1 team even after their 21-3 season-opening loss at Penn. Penn is supposed one of the five best teams in the state, but Valpo led 3-0 at the half and held the Kingsmen to just 216 total yards for the game. QB CJ Opperman was 10 of 26 for 149 yards. Nine penalties and three turnovers killed the Vikings. But Valparaiso will be favored to win the next eight weeks - even next week at Mishawaka (1-0).


2. (4A) Hobart (1-0)
2017 (6-4), 2016 (10-3), 2015 (5-5), 2014 (3-7)


HOBART – Hobart edged Chesterton 10-9 in a season opener I didn't think would be quite that close. This is supposed to be Hobart’s year. They return seven defensive starters from last year’s 6-4 team and they held the Trojans under 200 yards total offense. Opening on the road at 6A Chesterton and 5A LaPorte, the Brickies face tough games right away. If they can get to 2-0, it could be a big year, even with private schools Culver and Andrean ahead on the schedule.


3. (5A) Michigan City (1-0)
2017 (9-4), 2016 (7-4), 2015 (2-7), 2014 (4-6), 2013 (2-8), 2012 (2-8)


MICHIGAN CITY – Michigan City rolled over an out-manned Griffith team 53-0 in the season opener. No surprise the defense was not scored on with six returning starters. A word of caution for analysis here. Griffith graduated almost every key player from last season and it will be difficult for them to win anything outside of the Greater South Shore Conference. Michigan City should have another winning season with four returning offensive lineman and halfback Detrick Merriweather, a transfer from arch-rival LaPorte. The defense is led by linebacker Chase Triplett, who posted 140 tackles last year. But. Let's wait and see how Michigan City does this week in the home opener against south suburban Chicago power Homewood-Flossmoor.


4. (3A) Andrean (0-1)
2017 (8-4), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-4), 2014 (14-1)


MERRILLVILLE – There were surprises in week one and this was one of them. Andrean was upset 20-14 at their neighborhood rival because of five turnovers. The 59er defense was solid, but when the Andrean offense had the ball, they just couldn't move it without losing it. I still think the 59ers are the Class 3A sectional 25 favorite, but I’m keeping quiet about it until the 59ers play at Hanover Central (1-0) in week two and at New Prairie (1-0) in week three.


5. (4A) New Prairie (1-0)
2017 (11-2), 2016 (9-3), 2015 (6-4), 2014 (13-2), 2013 (12-1)


NEW CARLISLE – I thought the Prairie dogs lost a lot off last year’s sectional title team. Maybe not. New Prairie rolled over neighborhood rival LaPorte 42-14 in week one. New QB Chase Ketterer ran for two TDs and threw for a third. New Prairie ran for 283 yards on 31 carries. Typical New Prairie. Two passes all night. New team. A lot of boys that weren't out there last year. But a big win. Let's wait and see what they do on August 31 against Andrean.


6. (4A) Morton (1-0)
2017 (8-3), 2016 (4-7), 2015 (6-5), 2014 (10-2), 2013 (8-2)


HAMMOND – The Governors were hardly an offensive powerhouse in a 16-6 win over Highland. That does not speak highly of their chances the next two week when they play Lake Central and Lowell. The Governors have 1,000-yard rushers, a 20-yard-per-catch receiver, a 100-tackle linebacker all coming back. Once they get past the first three games, they should be moving on up in all polls.


7. (4A) LOWELL (1-0)
2017 (14-1), 2016 (9-5), 2015 (9-5), 2014 (12-1), 2014 (8-5)


LOWELL – I was very surprised by the Lowell 17-7 win over Crown Point in week one. The Lowell defense just locked up Crown Point, holding them to 115 total yards. Of course, there is concern about the Devils playing a 4A schedule (and three above-4A teams) with just 44 varsity players and at least seven two-way players in the starting lineup. Each game will be an endurance test. But Lowell gets this last poll spot for a big road, rivalry victory in the opener. Now, here come Class 6A Portage and then 4A state Top-20 Morton.


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Revised: August 19, 2018 .