The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2020 NW Indiana High School Football Week-6 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Valparaiso will carry a 19-game regular season winning streak onto the home field Friday night against Crown Point. (Photo by Mark Smith)

MERRILLVILLE (09-21-2020) Crown Point won a dramatic game last week 27-24 over Portage. Valiant rally by Portage. Game-winning kick by Sammy Brewer on Homecoming night for the Bulldogs. Good crowd from what I understand. Cool night. Good atmosphere, I heard. I wasnít there.

From the middle of the week on, I felt sick last week so I stayed home. I hesitate to call it Ďfeeling sickí because that word scares people in the 2020 Covid-19 virus world. I just tell folks Iím tired. Long day. Havenít eaten. Iíll be fine. But, for a while, I thought it was more than just hungry and tired.


I had no high temperature even though I felt a little fever. No sneezing or coughing. I just couldnít feel good. It was nothing new for me. I work outside a lot of the day during the week. When the weather gets cooler in the fall, I always ďfeel sick." Low-grade fever. It comes and it goes. Every year. Iím sure many of you go through the same thing.

Did I go see a doctor? The doctor who tells you that if you even think you Ďfeel sickí donít put our staff at risk by coming in here? No, I didnít. Go get a Covid-19 test. Can't do that, either. I don't have symptoms.

Just feelings. Feelings Iíve had for years.

So what should I have done when last Friday arrived? Donít sit with the crowd in the stands? Go to the game but donít go anywhere near coaches or the boys and girls? Sounds good but, as most of you who read this site already know, the only reason I go to games is to stand on the sidelines with the boys and the girls.

So I stayed home. Better for everybody. I wanted to go to the football game last Friday, but I decided to stay home. As Iím writing this, I feel fine now. What was wrong with me? As far as I know for sure, nothing. The lesson I learned? As far as I know for sure, nothing.

Iím looking forward to next Fridayís game. What can I say? Itís the year 2020.

These cancellations make it tough on the poll. Some games are won. Some are lost. Some arenít even played. But there will be a couple of changes this week.

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


MERRILLVILLE: The Pirates did not play last week and they resume the second half of season play this Friday against LaPorte (1-4). Iím a believer that a week off during the football season is a big plus for a team and the Ďidle Fridayí for the Pirates came directly in the middle of the nine-game regular season. The teams Merrillville has defeated [Hobart (3-1), Andrean (4-1), Portage (2-3) and Crown Point (3-2)], are having good seasons and the Pirates defeated all of them by two touchdowns or more. There is no question that Merrillville is the top-ranked team.

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


VALPARAISO: Valpo rallied to beat Chesterton 30-21 gaining 380 yards rushing on 53 carries. Valpo kicker Liam Shepherd booted field goals of 22, 33 and 35 yards. The Vikings have two 19-game winning streaks. Valparaiso has won 19 regular season games in a row and the Vikings have also won 19 DAC games in a row. Valpo is second-ranked in Class 5A and while the Vikings are surely fired up to beat Crown Point (3-2) this week and Merrillville (4-0) in two weeks, somewhere, someone in a green shirt is watching tape of Class 5A No. 1 Cathedral (5-0). You can bet on it.


3.) (4A) Hobart (3-1)
2019 (11-3), 2018 (7-3), 2017 (6-4), 2016 (10-3), 2015 (5-5)


HOBART: Hobartís game with Lowell (4-0) was canceled due to virus issues in Lowell. No big deal for the Brickies. They played four games, they took a week off and now they play the final four regular season games. Bye weeks donít hurt a football team. Just ask the linemen. Hobart will play Lowell in Class 4A Sectional 17, so theyíre not thinking about the Devils right now. Hobart is on the home field for a big time match with 2A No.1 Andrean (4-1).

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


MERRILLVILLE: Andrean has won four games in a row by scores of 28-0, 42-14, 47-0 and 52-10. The 59ersí season-opening loss to Merrillville (4-0) is a distant memory. The Niners' 53-10 win over Highland featured 23 first downs and 508 total yards. Ryan Walsh rushed for 107 yards on 14 carries. Andrean needs a challenge about now and theyíll get one at Class 4A No. 4 Hobart (4-1) this Friday.


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


CHESTERTON: Hereís the problem with polls. Chesterton (2-3) is rated ahead of Michigan City (2-1). MC has only lost once but that loss is to Chesterton. I thought the Trojans played well in a 30-21 loss to Valparaiso last week. Junior QB Chris Mullen was 18 of 28, for 205 yards and I donít know who Coby Bullock is but he caught 10 passes for 102 points. Bullock has 31 catches on the season for 400 yards. The Trojan losses are to 5A No. 2 Valpo, 4A No. 4 Hobart and 2A No. 3 Pioneer. ĎGood lossesí are fine but the next three games can't be Ďgood losses.í They need to be dirty, filthy wins.

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


MICHIGAN CITY: Michigan City has been off two weeks due to virus issues, but they return this weekend (Iím not sure if the game is Friday or Saturday) to host Lake Central. MC has to be thinking that the last four games (LC, Portage, LaPorte and Crown Point) are all wins but Iím sure theyíll be happy just to get back on the field in a year when nothing is guaranteed. All these games are warm-ups for the unavoidable 5A Sectional 9 matchup with Valparaiso (3-0).

7.) (4A) Kankakee Valley (5-0)

2019 (4-6), 2018 (2-8), 2017 (3-7), 2016 (3-8)

I have hesitated in putting Kankakee Valley in this poll because of the competition they have faced. KV has not faced a Class 4A or Class 6A team and they have only seen one Class 5A in Munster (1-4). But will that said, KV has allowed only 29 points all season. No one has scored 10 in any game. Quarterback Eli Carden was 8 of 11 passing for181 yards and the Kougars gained 206 yards rushing on 36 carries. But can they beat Lowell for the first time in five years? Will the game even be played? Stay tuned.

8.) (4A) LOWELL (4-0)

2019 (7-5), 2018 (10-3), 2017 (14-1), 2016 (9-5)


LOWELL: Iím putting Lowell in quarantine until they get back on the field. The Devils had to cancel last weekís game due to Covid-19 virus concerns that affected 1/3 of the team. I am not sure if Lowell will play Kankakee Valley (5-0) this week as scheduled, and even if they do, Iím not sure how many of the Devils will be able to play. If all the Red Devilsí players can come back, the only damage done was to the Lowell athletic department bank account which lost a good home gate against Hobart. The team won't be hurt by a mid-season bye week again, if everybody can come back.


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Revised: September 21, 2020 .