The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2018 NW Indiana High School Football Week-4 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Rain was the name of the game Friday night in Northwest Indiana. A dozen games were either postponed or stopped before they began last Friday due to rain and lightning. (Photo by Mark Smith)
Crown Point and Merrillville players shake hands at the end of their game inside a nearly empty Demaree stadium (capacity 7200). (Photo by Dave Woodworth)

MICHIGAN CITY (09-03-2018) A dozen games in Northwest Indiana last weekend were postponed by rain and lightning and rescheduled for Saturday.

It brought up several questions.

Why do high school football games begin at 7 p.m.? A game delayed after a 7 p.m. start pretty much has to be postponed.

I’ve never understood why sports like cross country, baseball and softball begin at 4:30 p.m., while football and basketball begin at 7 or 7:30 p.m. Would no one attend a 6 p.m. football game or soccer game? Would more people attend baseball and softball if it began at 6 p.m., which does happen in the post-season?

Also, why is everyone so unprepared for the possibility of a Friday night postponement? Radio stations that carry Friday night games simply don’t carry the game if it's postponed to Saturday.

Some stations set aside paid time for Friday football and if the games are postponed, that’s just too bad. The stations don’t or won't have the same time available Saturday.

Lakeshore Public Broadcasting was caught short when they sent cameras to get highlights of Friday games (for their Friday night 10:30 p.m. highlight show) only to have those games postponed. There wasn’t a Saturday night show to show highlights of the postponed and rescheduled Saturday games. The station isn't that flexible when it comes to local programming.

A third point is: Games were postponed in the 8 p.m. hour Friday night because the lightning bolts were flying. But Portage and Lake Central (the game was halted about 8 p.m.) waited until 11 p.m. and they finished the game Friday night.

Why can't high school teams on a non-school night wait two or three hours to play? Does it really matter if the game goes past midnight on Friday night? Isn't that better than searching for officials to staff a game Saturday afternoon in front of an empty (less than 600 people saw the last three quarters of Merrillville’s 26-21 win over Crown Point) stadium.

New Prairie drops out of the poll this week. Not so much because of the loss to Andean, but the loss of QB Chase Kettering, they have to show they can still win without him. Hopefully he can play next week. When he’s reevaluated the team will be reevaluated in this poll.

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


MICHIGAN CITY – MC trailed Chesterton 10-7 when rain and lightning postponed the game in the second quarter. The boys went home and got some sleep. Came back the next day and Michigan City won 28-10. QB Bryce Hayman was 15 of 29 for 165 yards and he ran for 61 yards on 14 carries. The Michigan City defense shut out Chesterton after the first quarter and held them to 51 yards rushing on 33 carries. Now the test. Valparaiso (1-2) and Merrillville (2-1) back to back. It's ‘go’ time.


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


VALPARAISO – Valpo finally got to play a home game against a an unranked team and they won big over LaPorte 38-8. The Vikings scored the first four times they had the ball for a 28-0 lead. Senior all-purpose player Reece Crossin scored twice. I’m not sure Valparaiso should be second in this poll, but I’ll know a little more about it this Friday about 10 p.m. after the Vikings travel to Michigan City.


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


HOBART – As I have questions about Michigan City being No. 1, I have some doubts about Hobart being No. 3, as well. 3-0 is 3-0, but the Brickies seem to know when the midnight hour is close at hand. Hobart has defeated Chesterton 10-9, LaPorte 21-20 and Culver Academy 17-14. Last week, a late TD pass by sophomore QB Riley Johnston to sophomore Zach Vode overcame a 14-10 Culver lead and lifted the Brickies' nonconference record to a 17-14 victory. Three weeks in a row, Hobart has looked defeat in the eye and laughed at it. I’m not sure the Brickies' coaching staff is laughing at these late night thrills. I’m guessing they’d appreciate it if this week’s game at East Chicago (2-1) has a little less drama at the end.


4. (3A) Andrean (2-1)
2017 (8-4), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-4), 2014 (14-1)


MERRILLVILLE – A proud moment surely for Andrean as they go on the road and take out New Prairie 44-28. QB Zack Merrill was 21 of 28 for 317 yards and five TDs. Wide receiver Nick Fleischer caught seven for 116 yards. Andrean is 2-1 and their season opening loss to Merrillville (2-1) doesn’t look so bad now. The 59ers reportedly were without linebacker Riley Walsh, but they did enough on defense to get out of town with the win. The 59ers finally get their home opener this week against Hammond before a showdown with Hobart on September 14.


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

MERRILLVILLE – Merrillville may have more potential than any team in NW Indiana. And yes. More than the Lowell team I had previously ranked ahead of them. The Pirates survived a fourth quarter comeback to take out arch-rival Crown Point 26-21 last week. No turnovers for the first time this season. Solid running and passing attack. But leading 20-7, they suddenly allowed Crown Point to score two TDs for a 21-20 lead. Give credit to CP, but that game should have been over. The alternating quarterbacks Aahric Whitehead and Peter Rodriguez are both good players, but I think that the Pirates would be less predictable if they went with Whitehead all the time. A pivotal game for Merrillville is this coming Friday at Portage (2-1).


6. (4A) Lowell (2-1)
2017 (14-1), 2016 (9-5), 2015 (9-5), 2014 (12-1), 2014 (8-5)


LOWELL – I thought Lowell would defeat Morton. But not 38-0. The Devils were able to run the ball on Morton (1-2) for 250 yards, including 151 (23 carries) by halfback Tyler Wildman. Lowell quarterback Ethan Igras still can't play QB (broken hand), but backup John Alessia ran 45 yards for a TD. The Devils are not a Top-10 team in Class 4A (that’s where they are ranked in the state poll) yet. But the defense has allowed just two touchdowns total in three games. CP, Morton and Portage have all played three games each. The lowest point totals all three have scored in any of their three games came against Lowell. This was a turning point win for Lowell, which now faces Clark (1-2), Kankakee Valley (1-2) and Highland (0-3).


7. (6A) Portage (2-1)
2017 (5-6), 2016 (6-4), 2015 (1-10), 2014 (1-9)


PORTAGE – Okay, Portage doesn't look great on offense. Just 39 points scored in three games. But they beat Lowell (2-1) at Lowell, Lowell’s only loss. The Indians beat Lake Central (2-1) at Lake Central, LC’s only loss. The loss was to Mishawaka (2-1), a team ranked in the Class 4A Top-10. Last week in an 18-10 win over LC, Portage completed just one pass, but QB Zack Warchus ran 23 times for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Portage gets a real test as they match defenses with Merrillville. But is Portage better than New Prairie (2-1), Calumet (3-0), Whiting (2-0) and Boone Grove (2-0)? Right now, I’d say they are.


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Revised: September 03, 2018 .