The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2021 NW Indiana High School Football Week-4 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



When Merrillville comes to your town, it's going to be a rumble. The Pirates have rolled to a 3-0 record and the No. 3 ranking among Class 6A teams state wide. (Photo by Mark Smith)

MERRILLVILLE (09-10-2021) Around the state, all six top-ranked teams won and improved to 3-0. That included Class 2A No. 1 Bishop Luers (3-0) who upset 6A No. 3 Homestead 45-42. In the 1-vs-2 matchup in 6A defending state champ Centre Grove rejected No. 2 Carmel 41-14. Center Grove has won 17 games in a row.

The next ‘Game of the Century’ is in week nine when 6A No.1 Center Grove takes on 5A No. 1 Cathedral (3-0).

This week’s ‘faraway replay’ is Plainfield and 4A No. 2 Mooresville. If you can access the IHSAA network on your app TV, access the IHSAA Champions Network. It’s probably a student broadcast, but the camera work focuses in on each play, fans, players and announcers are into the action and the game is very lively.

The ‘faraway replay’ is the non-Northwest Indiana football game I watch Saturday morning while I’m laying on my back and recovering from walking the sidelines on Friday night.

No movement at the top of the week-4 poll, but the Chesterton win at Michigan City moved the slots here. Class 1A North Judson won't be breaking into the Top-7 anytime soon, but the Blue Jays (3-0) stomped North Newton 34-12 last week to stay undefeated.

I don’t know where they’re going in the post-season, but Friday night they play in the ‘Starke County Super Bowl’ against county rival Knox (1-2). Knox upset Class 4A Highland 20-14 last Friday and they host Judson this Friday. Shut the town down. It's on.

1. (6A) Merrillville (3-0)
2020 (10-2), 2019 (11-2), 2018 (7-4), 2017 (1-9), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-5)


MERRILLVILLE: Merrillville led Crown Point 50-0 at the half last week. Domination the likes of which you rarely see in Class 6A. Seven touchdowns. 50-0. At halftime. QB Angel Nelson was 6-of-6 for 217 yards and three TDs. Halfback Lavarian Logan ran for 116 yards and three more TDs. They only played the first half. No one has stopped the purple Pirates yet. They have scored 40 or more in every game. Portage (1-2) is up next and let's just say they aren’t favored. But for the Pirates, ‘Judgment Day’ is coming. October 1: 6A No. 3 Merrillville (3-0) at 5A No. 4 Valparaiso (3-0). Judgment day. We’re all looking forward to that one.


2. (5A) Valparaiso (3-0)
2020 (8-1), 2019 (13-1), 2018 (10-2), 2017 (8-2), 2016 (5-5), 2015 (7-3)


VALPARAISO: Valparaiso took advantage of shorthanded LaPorte in a 56-26 win. LaPorte was without starting quarter RJ Anglin due to injury. Would it have changed the outcome? Probably not. Valpo got 183 yards rushing and four touchdowns from halfback Hayden Vinyard and three more TD runs from quarterback Logan Lockhart. Valparaiso has won every game by four TDs or more, but they haven’t faced a team with a winning record yet. Are they ready for Michigan City (2-1) this Friday? Is Michigan City ready for them?


.) (6A) Chesterton (3-0)
2020 (5-5), 2019 (6-4), 2018 (3-7), 2017 (4-6), 2016 (2-8), 2015 (8-3)


CHESTERTON: Michigan City sacked Chesterton QB Chris Mullen four times, but has was 14 of 30 for 238 yards and the game winning TD, an off-balance 28-yard pass to Jackson Westmoreland with 40 seconds to play in a 27-20 Chesterton victory. Unofficially in three games, Mullen is now 48 of 77 for 688 yards and seven TDs. I’m a little surprised by this outcome. I thought the Trojans' defense would get busted at MC, but it did not. Chesterton gets LaPorte (1-2) this Friday, but the big dogs [Valparaiso (3-0) on September 17 and Merrillville (3-0) on October 15] are still ahead. But as much as they’d like to win the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC), Chesterton’s goal is to win the sectional. The Trojans have never won a sectional championship.

4.) (5A) Michigan City (2-1)
2020 (4-3), 2019 (4-6), 2018 (10-3), 2017 (9-4), 2016 (7-4)


MICHIGAN CITY: The Wolves were tied 20-20 in the final minute against Chesterton, but the Trojan’s QB Chris Mullen made the game winning play in a 27-20 MC loss. I thought the MC ‘D’ would shut down Mullen and they almost did. ‘Almost’ of course, is not what you want to be saying about your team when the game is over. The Wolves must forget that game quickly because here comes the DAC monsters. Unbeaten Valparaiso (3-0) this Friday. Unbeaten Merrillville (3-0) next Friday. Back to back.


5.) (2A) Andrean (1-2)
2020 (11-2), 2019 (10-4), 2018 (10-2), 2017 (8-4), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-4)


MERRILLVILLE: Andrean lost 35-14 to Division 5 No. 1 Grand Rapids Central Catholic (2-0) last Saturday. All-state QB Joey Silveri threw three TD passes and the 59ers, who were within 21-14 at the half, never led. GRCC (Grand Rapids Central Catholic) is the two-time defending Michigan state champ and they looked better than anybody Andrean will see the rest of this season. The 59ers now get East Chicago (1-2) and Highland (1-2) back-to-back. The next true test is Hobart (1-2) on September 24. But let the record show. No one left on Andrean’s schedule has a winning record.

6.) (4A) New Prairie (3-0)
2020 (3-4), 2019 (6-5), 2018 (5-7), 2017 (7-5)


NEW CARLISLE: In their first close game of the season, the New Prairie Cougars held off Lowell 24-14. The New Prairie folks called it ‘country boy football’. Hard running Noah Muniga (5-9, 165) carried 26 times for 236 yards and the final TD after Lowell had pulled within 17-14. With a little help from ‘The Big Show’ senior tackle Hunter Whitenack (6-8, 325), Muniga has run 83 times for 769 yards and 11 touchdowns in three games. He is well on his way to 2,000 yards rushing. New Prairie faces another challenge this Friday from (Mishawaka) Marian (1-2) this week. Marian’s record is misleading. They’ve lost to undefeated Culver Academy (3-0) and undefeated Mishawaka (3-0).


7.) (4A) LOWELL (1-2)
2020 (9-2), 2019 (7-5), 2018 (10-3), 2017 (14-1), 2016 (9-5)


LOWELL: Can't drop Lowell for losing to teams ahead of them in the poll. The 24-14 loss at 3A No. 7 New Prairie (3-0) might have been Lowell’s best game of the season so far. The Devils have been shorthanded all year and last week they played without top rusher Joe Heuer (49 carries, 269 yards, 3 TDs) who had a leg injury. At full strength, is Lowell better than Lake Central (3-0)? I’ll get back to you next week on that one.


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Revised: September 08, 2021 .