The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2017 NW Indiana High School Football Week-3 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Moving the ball straight ahead on the ground against unbeaten Lowell requires that you move senior defensive tackles Jake Mitrisin (70) and Chandler Austgen (78). Morton will try to move them this Friday night in Hammond. (Photo by Mark Smith)

LOWELL (08-27-2017) The Northwest Indiana invasion of Chicagoland didn't go as well as had been hoped as East Chicago, Gavit, Lake Central and Michigan City all got stomped on by schools from that strange state to the west.

Why'd they get beat so bad? Because the NW Indiana schools picked quality teams to play. Bloom (which beat Gavit 26-6), Lincoln-Way East (which low-bridged LC 41-0), TF South (which blanked East Chicago 28-0) and Homewood-Flossmoor, which horse-raced Michigan City 63-21, are all good programs. I don't know if any of these results are a surprise.

I'm guessing that these teams signed home-and-home series, so we'll see all these games again next August. If people come to the games, these intra-state matchups (which are common in the southern tip of the state) should continue and multiply.

Okay so help me out with the poll this week. I don't know what to do.

Crown Point lost by 14 in week one and won by 28 in week two. Where do they go? LaPorte won by 29 in week one and lost by 11 last Friday?

Lake Central won by 28 in week one and lost 41-0 in far away Lincoln Way last weekend. East Chicago won by 45 in week one and then headed south and lost to TF South 28-0. Hammond lost the opener 22-0 and then beat (Burbank, Ill,) Teacis 58-41. Whiting won by 62 points in week one and lost by 39 the second week.

So what's wrong with these crazy, two-faced teams? Nothing. High school football in August. Lots of factors. Boys not playing in week one. Scheduling strange faces in strange places. Confidence swings. Mood swings. Weather swings. Other than tomorrow following today, you can't count on anything.

1. (4A) LOWELL (2-0)
2016 (9-5), 2015 (12-1), 2014 (8-5), 2013 (6-4) 2012 (5-5), 2011 (5-5)


LOWELL: Okay, they don't look the same on offense and they don't look great. They haven't rushed for even 150 yards in either of the first two games. Four passing TDs (Lowell had 11 TD passes in 14 games last fall) has provided the points. But Lowell has all the quarterbacks they need, all the defense they need and two wins over Class 6A schools. Junior Ethan Igras returned and was 8-of-10 for 207 yards in a 20-7 win at Portage. The Red Devil defense has stopped a Portage team that scored 45 points against its other foe (Mishawaka) and a Crown Point team that scored 35 against the other team (Highland) they've played. I'd like to see Lowell run the ball better than they have, but the Devils obviously have 'passed' both big tests so far.


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


VALPO: Here's another team that passed the test both weeks, topping Penn 12-7 and Mishawaka 35-14. QB Nick Leffew (22 of 41 for 255 yards) has been steady and 145-pound halfback Jesse Harper has caught 11 passes for 157 yards. Mishawaka was held to just 48 yards rushing on 22 carries. The truth is: The Cavemen never had the ball. Valparaiso ran 75 offensive plays in the week two win.
So why aren't they No. 1? Because Penn has scored a total of 14 points in two weeks and Mishawaka has allowed 76 points in two games. I'm not sure Penn and Mishawaka are very good this year.
The Vikings will find out more when they head east to play LaPorte (1-1) in the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) opener.


3. (6A) LaPorte (1-1)
2016 (9-2), 2015 (6-4), 2014 (8-6), 2013 (1-9), 2012 (1-9)

LaPORTE: LaPorte fell behind 14-0 and was upset 34-23 at Hobart in a big surprise. Hobart gained 301 yards on 31 carries as the LaPorte defense, a question mark even last season, couldn't get the ball back enough for the Slicers to rally away from home. I'm making a call in the field here. Last week's game was somewhat of a fluke. Hobart isn't better than LaPorte. The Slicers intercepted three passes and ran the ball 58 times for 230 yards. They just couldn't get into the end zone. I'm eager to see how LaPorte does this week at home in the league opener against Valparaiso (2-0).


4. (3A) ANDREAN (2-0)
2016 (9-2), 2015 (6-4), 2014 (8-6), 2013 (1-9), 2012 (1-9)


MERRILLVILLE: The 59ers coasted past Bishop Noll 58-21 in a mismatch. Noll, which has now lost 26 games in a row, hasn't beaten Andrean in this century. Junior QB Zack Merrill looked good with 10 of 13 passing for 160 yards. The 59ers' freshman running back named Ryan Walsh picked up 100 yards and two TDs. Sounds like everybody got to play. I don't want to move Anderan up for a game like this, but so many other ranked teams here looked like they lost their way last week. The 59ers should not even be playing Bishop Noll anymore. It's my understanding that Andrean only plays Bishop Noll because their 'higher powers" (not THAT higher 'power', slightly below him) insist upon it. But it's no longer a competitively even game. It does not help either program. Andrean meets an equal this coming Friday against New Prairie (1-1).

5. (6A) Lake Central (1-1)
2016 (4-6), 2015 (5-5), 2014 (9-2), 2013 (9-3), 2012 (8-3)


ST. JOHN: Here's another odd-looking judgment call. Lake Central dropped one 41-0 on the mean streets of New Lenox, Illinois against Lincoln-Way Central (1-0). I'm not dropping them in the poll. LWC all-stater Matt Pollack smoked LC for four rushing TDs and I don't think anybody over here (meaning NW Indiana) would have beaten them. LC was down 14-0 at the half. The blowout didn't come until the Pollack kid broke a 61-yarder in the middle of the third quarter. I think LC is still a top team over here. I may have to revisit that theory this Friday night after the Indians head east to Portage (0-2) this coming Friday.


6. (6A) Crown Point (1-1)
2016 (6-6), 2015 (1-9), 2014 (8-2), 2013 (6-4), 2012 (8-4)

CROWN POINT: The Bulldogs rolled over Highland 35-6 in the home opener collecting over 350 rushing yards. It was 28-0 after three quarters. The opening night 27-13 loss at Lowell (2-0) is going to be looked at in a different light as the season goes on. I think this is a strong CP team with a multiple offense, quality kickers and a young, but solid defense. You can make an argument for Chesterton (2-0) here, but I don't think Chesterton would beat Crown Point. The immediate question is: Will Merrillville (0-2) beat Crown Point this Friday at CP?


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


MICHIGAN CITY: I'm going to write off MC's 63-21 loss at Homewood-Flossmoor and that's going to take some writing. H-F is a perennial Illinois state contender in that state's biggest class, Class 8A.
The Vikings have gone 31-6 the last three years and they have at least three Division I players. Michigan City isn't going to see anybody like that again this year. So, if no one got hurt for the Wolves, it's all good. Coaches say getting annihilated by a vastly superior squad can do nothing but help you. In youth football, that's not always true. But Michigan City certainly won't be impressed by Chesterton (2-0) and their undefeated record this Friday night.


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Revised: August 28, 2017 .