The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2017 NW Indiana High School Football Week-6 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Welcome to Hobart. The Brickies slip into the poll after topping Andrean for their fourth win in a row. (Photo by Mark Smith)

LOWELL (09-18-2017) At mid-season, I have to say what I like and don't like. When I turn on the Big-10 Network, I don't want to watch Rutgers. Not ever. Not in any sport.

I tune in to the Big-10 Network to watch Northwestern and Illinois lose. It's tradition to me. Its always been that way.
I don't want to see Purdue playing games on Friday night. Friday is for high school football and watching Tom Selleck on 'Blue Bloods.' And for not answering the phone so the boss can't call you in to work on the weekend. No college football on Fridays. Ever.

And a championship professional fight simply cannot end in a draw. There has to be a winner. Boxing is too much of a battle. The cost is too high to the fighters. There has to be a winner and a loser.

And overtime football games are ties. Hobart beat Andrean 13-10 in the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) and the outcome was bogus because it always is in an overtime game.

You cannot lineup from the 10-yard line, run four plays and call one side a winner. In basketball, you play an overtime period. In baseball you play extra innings.

No one has ever explained to me why a tie football game simply can't go to the fifth quarter. Same rules. No sudden death. No starting from the 10-yard line. Kick it off and keep playing. Don't dream up some fake means of deciding a game like soccer does. The overtime system in high school football was wrong the day it was installed and it will be wrong after we're all gone.

What I don't like is that when I talked about undefeated teams last week, I left one out. Along with Valparaiso (5-0), Lowell (5-0), Rensselaer and Hanover Central, I should have included Bowman Academy.

Well, that's all changed. Hanover (4-1) lost 15-7 to Boone Grove last week.

Rensselaer lost to West Lafayette by a score I won't mention. And Bowman got smoked out 52-18 by Gary Roosevelt. So at mid-season there are only two undefeated teams. Would Valparaiso (5-0) defeat Lowell (5-0)? Not without their starting quarterback.

Most teams lose when their starting QB gets knocked out. Valpo has not.

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


LOWELL: Lowell played a strong defensive game and scored enough for another two-TD win 27-13 at Kankakee Valley. It's odd that while some of us seem to think Lowell's offense is having its struggles, no one has come within 14 points of them. Little halfback Tyler Wildman scored three TDs and rushed for over 140 yards. Take away the win over Clark (0-5) and Lowell averages about 24 points a game, which is fine, but it requires the defense to stop everybody. The Devils host Highland (2-3) this week and then travel to Munster (2-3). The season finale with Hobart (4-1) is getting bigger.


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


VALPO: Another solid game for Valpo, winning 14-0 at Chesterton. The Vikings defense held the Trojans to 183 total yards. Look, the Vikings are without starting QB Jake Leffew indefinitely and you can't win any post-season championships averaging 18 points a game, which is where the Vikings are. But no one has scored more than two TDs in any game against Valparaiso this season. The ONLY team to hold Mishawaka (3-2) to less than 15 points is Valpo, which defeated the Cavemen 31-7. The ONLY team to hold LaPorte (3-2) to less than 20 points is Valpo, which defeated the Slicers 17-6.
Can they win the DAC this way? I think they can. Can they win at Crown Point (2-3) this Friday? Sure they can.


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

LaPORTE: LaPorte is beginning to look like they were supposed to look at the start of the season. The Slicers rushed for 600 yards (that's not a misprint) in a 56-7 win over Lake Central last week. The young man's name is Dryason Nespo and he gained 221 yards and 4 TDs on 14 carries. He's up to 670 yards on 86 carries for the season. The Slicers' defense in best cases is to hold the ball for long periods of time and they are starting to do that. LaPorte heads to Lake County to take on Merrillville (1-4) and Crown Point (2-3) the next two weeks. Let's see if they can continue to run the ball.


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


PORTAGE: Portage pulled away in the second half of a 27-10 win over Crown Point last week. The big play was a 73-yard TD pass from Anthony Maceo to Greg Milledge, breaking a 7-7 tie. Maceo also ran for his 13th TD of the season. This was Portage's best defensive game, although CP quarterback Ryan Bolda being injured in the second quarter may have had something to do with that. Portage is 3-0 in the DAC and set to go 4-0 this Friday when they host Chesterton (2-3). The Indians lost to Lowell (5-0) and Mishawaka (3-2) early, but they win the DAC if they win their final four games.


5. (4A) New Prairie (4-1)
2016 (9-3), 2015 (6-4), 2014 (13-2), 2013 (12-1), 2012 (9-2)


NEW CARLISLE: Since the opening night 41-12 loss at LaPorte, the Cougars have scored 222 points in four games, including a 61-13 win at Bremen last week. The 'Prairie dogs' are in a portion of the schedule where they should win, but these are serious numbers on the scoreboard. Who stops them? Maybe (Mishawaka) Marian (4-1) on September 29. Maybe Jimtown (3-2) on Oct. 13. In Class 4A Sectional 18, who stops this offense?

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


MICHIGAN CITY: His name is Daelon Wren and he carried 28 times for 369 yards and six TDs in Michigan City's 56-28 track met with Merrillville last Friday and apparently I have not been paying attention. Wren (5-7, 175) has carried 125 carries and gained 724 yards. So in one night, the senior gained more yards than he did all season up to last week. Take away the 63-21 loss to Illinois superpower Homewood-Flossmoor (4-0) and MC is in the state Class 5A Top-10. The Wolves still give up so many points (28 per game) it's scary, but they get Lake Central next and LC hasn't stopped anybody since August.


7. (4A) Hobart (4-1)
2016 (10-3), 2015 (5-5), 2014 (3-7), 2013 (5-5), 2012 (8-3)


HOBART: The seventh spot is shaky. Is Hobart (4-1) better than Andrean (3-2) because they won an overtime game with them? Isn't Griffith (4-1) better than both of them? The Brickies' 34-23 win over LaPorte (3-2) looks bigger and bigger as time passes. But the 35-21 loss to Chesterton (2-3) doesn't. Brickie QB Sam Ehrlich has run 76 times for 555 yards in five games and the Hobart defense has allowed just 68 points all season. Hobart hasn't faced any Class 6A schools and Griffith also has not. But Hobart's fate is entirely in their own hands. If they win their next seven games, they win the conference and the sectional. The first game is Friday at home against Kankakee Valley (3-2).

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Revised: September 18, 2017 .