A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith
|Lake Central, the pre-season No.1 team, protected the home field last week with a four touchdown victory in the season opener. (Photo by Mark Smith)|
LOWELL (8-21-2016) In a lot of respects, Northwest Indiana football results for week one of the 2016 season were examples of teams defeating teams "they were supposed to beat."
Merrillville defeated Andrean for the first time in four years. Lake Central
topped Munster for the first time in five years. Crown Point topped a Lowell
team they didn't beat last fall.
Forgetting the strength of this years' editions of those teams. Merrillville is four times the size of Andrean. Lake Central is twice as large as Munster is. The enrollment of Crown Point is over 1,000 students larger than that of Lowell. High school football is a war and you need troops. Penn, enrollment 3,700, has more troops than Valparaiso, enrollment 2,200. Class 6A LaPorte should beat Class 4A New Prairie. Class 5A Michigan City should defeat Class 3A Griffith, Kankakee Valley should beat 2A Rensselaer, Class 3A Hanover Central should defeat Class 1A Bishop Noll most seasons in varsity football.
The Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) was 6-2 and the losses were to Penn and Mishawaka, two perennial powers. And Lowell wasn't the the only Class 4A team to fall. In the coaches poll, No. 3 Northview lost 50-0, No. 6 Jasper lost 41-7 and No. 8 New Prairie lost 21-20 to LaPorte.
Lake Central hosts Lincoln-Way Central for the first time Friday night. The Indians travel to New Lenox, Illinois to play LWC in 2017. Sister school LincolnWay East plays at South Bend Adams. The week's big, big game brings Penn to Merrillville. The big, little game? Probably Gavit (1-0) at Whiting (1-0).
Meanwhile, Northwest Indiana's biggest school is at the top of the local poll.
1. (6A) Lake Central (1-0)
2015 (5-5), 2014 (9-2), 2013 (9-2), 2012 (9-3)
ST. JOHN: Lake Central played up to the No.1 ranking with a 35-7 victory over next door neighbor Munster. New QB Zach Bundalo was 11 of 15 for 179 yards and two TDs to receiver Josh Benson. Senior halfback Anthony Giles carried 16 times for 169 yards and scored a 56-yard touchdown. Munster scored first and then was shut down for the rest of the night. I think the four-game losing steak at the end of last year was a fluke. LC has been very good for four seasons now. The only thing bad about Lake Central the first week is those God-awful 'basement gray' colored home uniforms. The boys look like their jerseys were dipped in Flint, Michigan water. Royal blue and white folks. Royal blue and white.
2. (6A) MERRILLVILLE (1-0)
2015 (7-5), 2014 (6-6), 2013 (9-2), 2012 (11-3)
Merrillville's new quarterback, 145-pound sophomore Cameron Wright was 14 of 20
for 273 yards in the Pirates' 35-7 win over next door neighbor Andrean Saturday
and it was all good.
Star Pirate linebacker Moses Johnson grabbed a fumble and ran 13 yards for a TD. Pass catching trouble-maker James Kirklen caught touchdown passes for 10 and 79 yards. Cornerback Kenyatta Smith intercepted two passes. But Cameron Wright threw for four touchdowns. Who throws for four TDs in their varsity debut? If the Pirates truly have the 'Wright stuff' at quarterback, it's going to be a very good season, because Merrillville looked steady and ready in their first week test.
3. (6A) LaPORTE (1-0)
2015 (6-4), 2014 (8-6), 2013 (1-9), 2012 (1-9)
LaPORTE: The Slicers escaped against next door neighbor New Prairie 21-20 in the season opener in a game that probably said more about New Prairie than it did about the Slicers. LaPorte rushed 43 times for 185 yards with 200-pound fullback Brennan Long gaining 112 yards and two TDs on 12 carries. New QB Nolan Lorenz was 2-of-5 for 49 yards and a TD to big Scott Cooper (6-4, 230). The Slicers outgained New Prairie just 234-204, but again, that speaks to how well the Cougars played. New Prairie is just a difficult team to face on their field. LaPorte won the 'Milk Jug' trophy for the third year in a row. I think LaPorte is underrated and they figure to stay in these rankings all year.
4. (4A) LOWELL (0-1)
2015 (12-1), 2014 (8-5), 2013 (6-4), 2012 (5-5), 2011 (5-5)
LOWELL: After watching Lowell play four quarters and two overtimes without scoring a touchdown, I still think they're a pretty good team. Lowell lost 9-3 in two overtimes to Crown Point in a game that may eventually say more about CP than it does about the Devils. Still, Lowell never got inside the Bulldog 40-year line in four quarters. They were shut out in regulation. Less than 100 total yards and just three first downs. Might be time to remind folks that 10 years ago, Lowell was shut out 17-0 by Crown Point in week one, 35-0 by Griffith in week three and 17-0 by Andrean week five. They still won the 2006 sectional title. But there is work to do on offense. The Devils' defense looks plenty good enough, but it's going to be tough to move the ball this week in the home opener against Portage.
5. (6A) Chesterton (1-0)
2015 (8-3), 2014 (6-5), 2013 (4-7), 2012 (9-2)
CHESTERTON: I remember having doubts as to whether Chesterton's defense, which has allowed 297 points in the last two years (13.5 per game over 22 games) could continue after graduating much of that defense. Maybe they can. In the 14-7 win over Kokomo, not only did the Trojans contain a good offense, but Zack Johnson returned a blocked punt 35 yards for a TD. Brett Roeske grabbed two of the Trojans' four interceptions. That's a lot of defense. Kokomo is a defending 5A sectional champion. Here's another school where the practices on offense will have a little urgency this week, but the boys keep putting a capital 'D' in Chesterton. Let's see what they can do with Munster and Michigan City the next two weeks.
6. (6A) CROWN POINT (1-0)
2015 (1-9), 2014 (8-2), 2013 (6-4), 2012 (8-4)
CROWN POINT: If there was question about CP being in this poll, there isn't now. CP won 9-3 in two overtimes over Lowell and allowed the Devils less than 100 total yards. CP halfback Tyler Gomez gained 60 yards on 19 carries and scored the winning points on a 4-yard run. They have some issues on offense, for sure. Two field goals were blocked last week. But I liked the Bulldogs' defense last fall when they were 1-9. CP looked physically strong against a strong Lowell offensive line. And when a team starts losing, you know they care, but you need to see how much. Against Lowell, CP showed how much they want to get back to winning football. They'll be needing to show that again on the road this week against a good rushing offense at Mishawaka.
(4A) East Chicago (6-0)
2015 (6-6), 2014 (3-7), 2013 (11-3), 2012 (9-2)
EAST CHICAGO: The Red birds coasted past Hammond 37-12 to win their first
game in their new Conference (The Great Lakes Athletic Conference) over Hammond.
Tyree Rimmer scored two touchdowns as EC never trailed in a solid win. Is EC
better than Valparaiso (0-1), which lost big at Penn? What about Portage (0-1)?
Are there five DAC teams better than EC?
I dropped East Chicago to seventh place due to the unexpected wins by Chesterton
and Crown Point.
Prospects for them are no less high this week. The Cardinals have six road games
including the long ride to (Lafayette) Jefferson next Friday.
That will be much more of a test than Hammond was.
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Revised: August 20, 2016 .