The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2017 NW Indiana High School Football Week-4 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



This week's Number one team plays on Route 2. Lowell has won two in a row on the road and they are ranked No. 4 in Class 4A in the latest state football poll.
(Photo by Mark Smith)

LOWELL (09-04-2017) Here's a week where everything blew up. Andrean. Undefeated. Winning big. Loses 42-3. Portage 0-2 and on the road. They win by 26. Merrillville. Winless. They've scored 13 points all year. The Pirates win 34-26.

This is a strange year. Lafayette Catholic is 0-3. McCutcheon is 0-3.They were 8-3 last season. South Bend St. Joseph's won the 4A regional at Lowell two years ago. They stand at 0-3 as you read this.

I'm thinking we're going to see some big reversals in from as the season goes on but high school football does not go through shifts in the balance of power in certain areas. Good teams are usually good ... average teams try to catch up.

This year is a little different so far.

Usually after three weeks there are several undefeated teams.

This year: Valparaiso (3-0), Lowell (3-0), Hanover Central (3-0) and Rensselaer (3-0). That's it at this point. And unless I'm mistaken, none of them play each other. Or even want to.

Valpo-Lowell. Rensselaer-Valpo? Never. Hanover-Rensselaer. Never even heard a discussion of it.

Hanover Central vs. Lowell. Some day. Maybe not that many years away.

1. (4A) LOWELL (3-0)
2016 (9-5), 2015 (12-1), 2014 (8-5), 2013 (6-4) 2012 (5-5), 2011 (5-5)


LOWELL: Okay, they did win 19-0 at Morton. Lowell's defense has allowed just three touchdowns in three games. But the Devils produced just two TDs on offense against a team Plymouth defeated 50-13. Four more turnovers for the Devils and let's just say the kicking game is an adventure. The Devils play Clark this week in the hole in the schedule that Griffith left when the Panthers went to the Greater South Shore Conference (GSSC). Lowell's offense has scored seven TDs in three games and that's just okay. The Devils obviously need a lot of work on offense and they can get some of that at home this Friday against the winless Pioneers (0-3).


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


VALPO: Valpo didn't exactly dominate LaPorte, but they did enough to win 17-6 in the DAC opener, surviving an injury to QB Jake Leffew. The Slicers gained 250 yards rushing, but Valpo kept them out of the end zone until the third quarter. Valpo's Jesse Hare gained 92 yards on 11 carries. What leaves me a little uneasy here is that LaPorte turned the ball over five times and basically gift-wrapped this victory for the Vikings. Still, Valpo has topped Penn, Mishawaka and LaPorte. Let's not mention that Mishawaka is 1-2 and LaPorte is 1-2. I'm obviously not sold on Valpo, but maybe I will be after the Vikes host Michigan City (2-1) this week.


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

LaPORTE: LaPorte ran 50 times for 272 yards against Valparaiso and lost by 11 points. Five turnovers gave the game away 17-6. This is the most confusing team so far this year. The Slicers move the ball well, rushing for 877 yards on 181 carries (an average of 60 rushes per game), but they self-destructed near the goal line and with a ball control offense, they can't survive that. I'm being stubborn here, but this team should not be losing and I think Chesterton (2-1) has a problem when the Slicers get there Friday.


4. (6A) Portage (1-2)
2016 (6-4), 2015 (1-10), 2014 (1-9), 2013 (6-4), 2012 (3-7)


PORTAGE: After losses to Mishawaka and Lowell, Portage jumped all over Lake Central 40-14 to post their first win of the year. Senior Quarterback Anthony Maceo, who ran for five TDs in the 47-45 loss at Mishawaka, ran for five more at LC on a night when he gained 267 yards on just 11 carries. This defense returned almost everybody from last year and the last two weeks they've played like it allowing less than 100 yards on the ground both times. You would think the Indians can't go on like this with Maceo scoring all the TDs like this, but check back with me after Portage plays at Merrillville (1-2) this Friday.


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


MICHIGAN CITY: Good win for Michigan City, 35-14 over Chesterton as Daelon Wren ran for 126 yards and two touchdowns. MC was coming off the 63-21 loss at Homewood-Flossmoor and they needed to face someone they could handle. Here's another team that's hard to read. The Wolves were called for 14 penalties costing them 135 yards. I don't know how good they actually are, but we'll know more after they visit Valparaiso (3-0) this Friday.


6. (4A) New Prairie (2-1)
2016 (9-3), 2015 (6-4), 2014 (13-2), 2013 (12-1), 2012 (9-2)


NEW CARLISLE: I'm not sure New Prairie defeats CP or Merrillville, but if I rate LaPorte very highly despite their loses, the Cougars have to get here eventually. New Prairie lost to LaPorte but has won games 73-0 and 42-3. Nick Wilson passed for two TDs and ran for two more as New Prairie won for the first time at Andrean. This was expected to be a Top-10 team at the start of the year and now the Cougars look like it. They'll head for South Bend to take on Washington (2-1) this Friday.


7. (3A) ANDREAN (2-1)
2016 (9-2), 2015 (6-4), 2014 (8-6), 2013 (1-9), 2012 (1-9)


MERRILLVILLE: I'm not sure what happened here, either. Big wins over Merrillville and Bishop Noll were followed by a 42-3 beat down at home against New Prairie (2-1). The Niners turned the ball over four times and trailed 28-3 at the half. I have no explanation other than a few 59ers may have been suspended for a fight the previous week in the Bishop Noll game. Andean has a small roster and they can't lose anybody. With that said, the Niners gave up 600 yards and 20 first downs. I don't think a couple of players makes that much difference. I'm not dropping Andrean from the poll because I think they were shorthanded. Look for a bounce back this week at Hammond High (1-2).


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Revised: September 03, 2017 .