The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2018 NW Indiana High School Football Week-6 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Lowell may be seventh in this poll, but they are tied for first in 'old' trophies. The Devils won the 'Old Leather Helmet' trophy by beating Crown Point 17-7 in August. Last Friday Lowell won the old 'Milk Can' with a 13-10 win over rival Kankakee Valley.
(Photo by Mark Smith)

VALPARAISO (09-17-2018) I am envious of the state polls. I actually have to think 30 seconds about where to place teams.
The state polls don’t.

In Class 6A last week, Warren Central (5-0) beat Ben Davis 70-27.

Really. 70-27. Last week they beat Lawrence Central 47-0.

Wonder where they should be ranked?

In 5A, New Palestine (5-0) best Undefeated Pendleton Heights 42-21. Three weeks ago New Palestine beat Yorktown 81-13. Two weeks ago, New Pal edged Mt. Vernon 64-0.

Any argument about who is No.1 in 5A?

Class 1A is even more obvious.

Two-time defending state Class 1A champion Pioneer (5-0) barely escaped North White last week 78-0. The Panthers ran the ball 18 times for 380 yards.

The week before last, Pioneer beat Caston 78-0. Same score. In week two, Pioneer defeated Winamac 76-0. This is the team with Jack Kiser (6-2, 210), a four-year starting QB who has run for 5,700 yards.

Gee, where should they be ranked?

In Northwest Indiana, we have to figure out where to put Michigan City (3-2), which has alternated wins and losses, and New Prairie (3-2), which has faced three Top-10 teams.

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


VALPARAISO – Valpo got the best of Chesterton 23-0. The Vikings have allowed just 15 points total in the last three weeks. The losses are to 6A No. 5 Penn (4-1) and 4A No. 4 Mishawaka (4-1). What’s odd is: When you lose to two ranked teams and then win three in a row, conventional logic says: Those losses to ‘good teams’ helped you. If you lose to two ranked teams and then lose three more, I guess the losses didn’t help you very much. Valpo was the top-rated team here in the pre-season and none of the five games have suggested they should not be. The Vikings host Crown Point (2-3) this week.

2. (5A) Michigan City (3-2)
2017 (9-4), 2016 (7-4), 2015 (2-7), 2014 (4-6), 2013 (2-8), 2012 (2-8)


MICHIGAN CITY – MC got four touchdowns from safety-turned-halfback Lyric McFerrin to roll over Merrillville 42-21. The Chesterton-transfer gained 286 yards on 20 carries. I won't ask why he’s been on defense-only for a year and a half. MC gained 450 yards on a defense that shut down almost everyone they’ve played. The Wolves now play four teams with losing records before the Class 5A playoffs begin, starting with a home game against Lake Central (2-3) this Friday.


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


MERRILLVILLE – The 59ers rolled over Hobart 41-7 as QB Zack Merrill ran for three TDs and passed for three more. Since the season-opening 20-14 loss to Merrillville (3-2), Andrean, which has played four road games so far, has outscored four victims 169-35. Andrean now plays at Munster (1-4) and at Kankakee Valley (2-3) before the 59ers finish with Highland (3-2) and Lowell (4-1). I think Andrean would win a rematch with Merrillville now.


4. (6A) Merrillville (3-2)
2017 (1-9), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-5), 2014 (6-6)

MERRILLVILLE – Merrillville got run over 42-21 at home by Michigan City, allowing 400 yards rushing. And I don't know how. The Pirate defense wasn’t unbeatable, but no one had run on them. Junior QB Aahric Whitehead was 28 of 45 for 247 yards and three touchdowns, but all of that came after MC had rolled up a big lead. It will be interesting to see where Merrillville goes now, because they should not have been blown out like that. The Pirates try to bounce back this week on the road at LaPorte (2-3).

5. (4A) New Prairie (3-2)
2017 (11-2), 2016 (9-3), 2015 (6-4), 2014 (13-2)


NEW CARLISLE – The Cougars lost at home 27-21 to Mishawaka despite 57 carries for 355 yards rushing. Chris Mays ran for three TDs. The Cougars fumbled away a chance to win in the fourth quarter against another ranked foe. Who made up this schedule? NP has played Andrean (4-1), Mishawaka (4-1), St. Joseph’s (4-1) and LaPorte (2-3). I don't think New Prairie has ever played Penn. And I wasn’t aware that they do in two weeks on Sept 28.

6. (4A) Hobart (4-1)
2017 (6-4), 2016 (10-3), 2015 (5-5), 2014 (3-7)


HOBART – There were doubts about Hobart before the 41-7 loss to Andrean last week. Now I wonder if the 34-point spread says more about the Brickies than it does about Andraen. Hobart has only scored more than 21 points once and that was against an outmanned East Chicago team. It won't be easy for the Brickies at Kankakee Valley (2-3) next week.


7. (4A) Lowell (4-1)
2017 (14-1), 2016 (9-5), 2015 (9-5), 2014 (12-1), 2014 (8-5)


LOWELL – Lowell was not in top form, surviving Kankakee Valley by a 13-10 score. Junior field goal kicker Nate Gard hit a 39-yarder in the fourth quarter to break a 10-10 tie. There are a lot of underclassmen playing significant roles for the first time for the Devils. Lowell still does not have two-year veteran QB Ethas Igras (broken hand) available to run the offense and that’s why they’re where they are in this poll. Defensively, the Devils have allowed just 24 points all season, but Highland (3-2), Andrean (4-1) and Hobart (4-1) are ahead on the schedule. We’ll know exactly how good they are very soon now.


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Revised: September 16, 2018 .