The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2019 NW Indiana High School Football Week-2 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



New Prairie might be off to another good start. 'Another' might be an understatement. Tucked away in the far eastern portion of LaPorte County, the Cougars are 68-18 in the last eight years. (Photo by Mark Smith)

VALPARAISO (08-26-2019) There seemed to be some surprises in week one, but the operative words there was ‘seemed to be.’

Highland over Morton. Lowell over Crown Point. Chesterton over Hobart. Teams that seemed good in the pre-season prediction places got beat on the field.

Even Valparaiso’s win over Penn suggests facts not in evidence. I assume it's a big deal because Penn has been good in past seasons. The past is not a reliable predictor of the future.

Of course, with Andrew Luck gone, nobody in Indiana has any football future anyway.

The top four teams all won by 20 points or more.

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


VALPARAISO – Valpo was the king of the world in week one with a 34-14 win over 4A No. 9 Penn. Halfback Tommy Burbee carried 15 times for 168 yards as the green team led 17-0 in the second quarter and coasted to victory. The Vikings' highly-regarded defense held Penn to just 186 total yards. Keeping in mind and allowing for the fact that we don't know how good Penn is, this first week could not have gone better for Valparaiso. The Vikings make their first-ever visit to Griffith next week.


2. (6A) Merrillville (1-0)
2018 (7-4), 2017 (1-9), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-5), 2014 (6-6)


MERRILLVILLE – The Pirates’ did what they wanted to do on opening night, rolling past cross-town rival Andrean 48-20. Receiver Jeremiah Howard scored two TDs and quarterback Peter Rodriguez ran for three more as the Pirates beat Andrean for the third time in four years. Merrillville is ready to rumble and they’ll do so against Hobart this week. Valparaiso and Merrillville are the top two teams in Northwest Indiana and there may be a gap to everyone else.


3. (5A) Michigan City (1-0)
2018 (10-3), 2017 (9-4), 2016 (7-4), 2015 (2-7)


MICHIGAN CITY – The Wolves ran over outmanned Griffith 60-7 Friday, leading 41-0 in the first quarter. Might be a good time to recall that MC beat Griffith 53-0 last year. I’m going to predict that Griffith won't be playing Michigan City for too many more years. I’d like to see MC play New Prairie. I'm not ready to put MC in the class of Valpo and Merrillville just yet. Warsaw (1-0) at Michigan City in week two should be a better test.


4. (4A) New Prairie (1-0)
2018 (7-4), 2017 (11-2), 2016 (9-3), 2015 (6-4)


NEW CARLISLE – The Cougars were growling in week one with a 48-14 win over county rival LaPorte. NP led 27-0 at the half and they coasted home rushing for over 300 yards. To be fair, LaPorte has undergone a coaching change and is changing their offensive and defensive strategy. But NP won this game 42-14 last year. This is supposed to be a very good season for the Cougars, but we won't pick up a lot more insight about New Prairie this week. They host (South Bend) Clay (0-1), a school that has lost 32 games in a row. New Prairie needs to be 2-0. They have Andrean, Penn, St. Joseph’s and Mishawaka ahead on the schedule.


5. (4A) Lowell (1-0)
2018 (10-3), 2017 (14-1), 2016 (9-5), 2015 (9-5), 2014 (12-1)


LOWELL – I’m not sure how good Lowell is. But it looks like they’re okay at the quarterback position with Hobart-transfer Cameron Stojancevich, who was 7 of 10 for three touchdowns in his rookie debut with the Devils last week in the 21-19 upset of Crown Point. The Devils’ secondary did give up 300 yards passing to CP quarterback Will Pettit. But they made enough plays to win with a young roster. This is the fifth consecutive year that Class 4A Lowell has begun the varsity football season with games against Class 6A Crown Point and Class 6A Portage. The Devils are 6-3 in those games.
And they could be 7-3 after their road trip to Portage (0-1) this Friday, another game that, by enrollment, they shouldn't win.


6. Crown Point (0-1)
2018 (5-7), 2017 (7-5), 2016 (6-6), 2015 (1-9), 2014 (8-2)


CROWN POINT – Crown Point shouldn't have lost the season-opener to Lowell, but they did, a 21-19 road loss. How did the Bulldogs lose when junior QB Will Pettit was 23 of 38 for 336 yards? That’s a question the CP boys are asking themselves this week. I’m not buying that the Bulldogs aren't very good because of a two-point loss a Lowell. But the Bulldogs allowing three passing TDs is a storm cloud on the horizon heading into Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) play. Let’s see what they do against Highland (1-0) this Friday.


7. Lake Central (1-0)
2018 (2-8), 2017 (2-8), 2016 (4-6), 2015 (5-5), 2014 (9-2)


St. JOHN – Its been a few years since Lake Central has had a winning team, but they started well last Friday with a 37-7 win over Munster. New QB Mateo Cedano was 12 of 20 for 199 yards and two TDs. LC rushed for 224 yards on 32 carries with sophomore Max Creasbaum (16 carries, 122 yards, 2 TDs) showing well. In the interest of full disclosure, LC has defeated Munster three years in a row and it didn't lead to a winning season. Let's see what happens in the home opener against Morton (0-1) this week.


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Revised: August 25, 2019 .