The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2019 NW Indiana High School Football Week-3 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Visitors may not feel all that welcome at Portage this season after the game is over. Counting the fourth quarter of the season opener, Portage has 56 points scored in their last five periods of football after two weeks. (Photo by Mark Smith)

VALPARAISO (09-02-2019) Most years, it's difficult to rank and rate teams before the first game. This year, it's hard to judge a lot of teams after the second game. More than one team went out last Friday and did not resemble the squad they appeared to be in the season opener.


Let’s take a look at the ‘Freaky Five.’

5. LOWELL (1-1)
The Devils zapped Crown Point with 21 first half points in the opener, but they were the ‘zappee,’ not the ‘zapper,’ in week two when Lowell trailed Portage 28-0 at the half. The reality is Lowell plays ‘up’ the first two weeks. They are a 4A school playing Class 6A schools. Translated: They play two schools twice their size. I don't really know much about Lowell until they play 4A schools like Morton and Griffith, their next two opponents.

4. Portage (1-1)
Portage got smoked out 42-27 in week one in Mishawaka and they trailed 42-7 after three quarters in that game. But seven days later, the Indians ran away from Lowell 35-9 in the home opener. This one is a little more explainable. Mishawaka is a difficult team to play because they run a ball-control, option offense that few teams use. Facing a somewhat more conventional offense run by a less experienced team, Portage showed what they can do. Does that mean they can compete in the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) this year? How can I know?

3. East Chicago (1-1)
EC got laid low 34-6 by Hanover Central in week one. Wow. No offense. Maybe it's going to be a long year. In week two, the Cardinals fly past Bowman 41-26. Well, maybe Hanover’s defense was just so mighty? Right? But Hanover gave up 44 to Andrean in week two.

So where is East Chicago going? What’s the truth about them? Let me know when you’re sure.

2. Lake Central (1-1)
I hopped on the ‘LC train’ when they stomped arch-rival Munster 37-7 in week one. And I was all aboard when the LC express was quickly derailed 20-0 by Morton in week two. This was the Indians’ home opener against a team they beat by 20 points last year. Was LC just overconfident against a strong Morton defense? Or is this the same team that was 2-8 the last two seasons? Color me confused.

1. Morton (1-1)
The Governors are the undisputed top-ranked team in the ‘Freaky Five.’
In week one, Morton committed 17 penalties and lost veteran quarterback Credell Prather to injury in a 19-18 loss to Highland. Seven days later, facing a Lake Central team that won by 30 over Munster, Morton’s defense dominated the game in a 20-0 win. So Morton’s really good, right? They won't commit 17 penalties in a game again, right? And losing Prather wont matter, right? It didn't matter at LC, did it? I don't know... Why are you asking me?

Okay. Let's get to the real poll, which has no changes at the top, but some rearrangement at the bottom.

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


VALPARAISO – Valpo rolled over out-manned Griffith 63-0 in week two after the 20-point win over Penn in week one. This was a mismatch and Valpo is 2-0 for the first time since 2017. And they are going to be 3-0 after a visit to LaPorte (0-2) this Friday.


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


MERRILLVILLE – The Pirates’ defense closed down Hobart 21-0 a week after they topped Andrean 48-20. The dirty side of this game was that Merrillville turned the ball over eight times. Obviously, that cannot happen again. The Pirates begin the seven game DAC schedule on the road at arch-rival Crown Point (1-1) this Friday.


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


MICHIGAN CITY – Michigan City lost 20-19 at home to Warsaw, but I’m not dropping them in the poll because Warsaw (2-0) might be a better team. The Wolves trailed 17-0 and led 19-17 but their fifth turnover of the game, a fumbled handoff, let Warsaw have a chance to win. But even if the Wolves don't have the offense they had in 2018, MC is still the third best team in NW Indiana.
Let's see what they do with/to rejuvenated Chesterton (2-0) this Friday.


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


NEW CARLISLE – The Cougars rolled over winless Clay 62-7 after a 48-14 win over rival LaPorte. The calm before the storm. The Cougars now get Andrean (1-1), St. Joseph’s (0-2) and Mishawaka (1-1) in a ‘September to remember.’ I think the Cougars are a Top-10 team, but I thought Purdue would beat Nevada last week, too.


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


CROWN POINT – Crown Point put a blanket on Highland 24-0 after the season-opening 21-19 loss at Lowell. Halfback Matthew Walters ran 13 times for 90 yards and three TDs while
the CP defense held Highland to just 90 total yards. Junior QB Will Petit has thrown for 500 yards in two games. CP has shut out the opposition (Lowell and Highland) for six consecutive quarters.
That will end when the Bulldogs host arch-rival Merrillville (2-0) Friday night in one of the feature games of the year.


6. Portage (1-1)
2018 (4-6), 2017 (5-6), 2016 (6-4), 2015 (1-10)


PORTAGE – I may be over-reacting here, because I saw Portage in person and they were impressive. QB Zach Warchus ran for 3 TDs and threw for a fourth. Safety-wide receiver Scott Hansen is a major factor on both sides of the ball. Portage did lose the opener 42-27 in Mishawaka, but Portage scored 21 fourth quarter points in that game and there was carry-over against Lowell. Portage’s team speed is surprising and I’m guessing they’ll be ‘surprising’ Lake Central this week in the DAC opener this week.


7. (4A) Lowell (1-1)
2018 (10-3), 2017 (14-1), 2016 (9-5), 2015 (9-5), 2014 (12-1)


LOWELL – I’m not sure Lowell is better than Chesterton (2-0) or Rensselaer (2-0), but this is a strength of schedule pick. Lowell looked slow against Portage in a 35-9 loss and I didn't think that would happen after the Devils beat Crown Point 21-19 in week one. But I think there’s a good offense here waiting to break out. I’m not sure the ‘breakout’ comes this week at Morton (1-1), but we’ll see.


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Revised: September 02, 2019 .