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

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Hobart has been building a winning streak since August. The Brickies go for their sixth win in a row this week against Highland. (Photo by Mark Smith)

LOWELL (09-25-2017) It's a miracle. It's over for the Clark high Pioneers.

After losing 27 games in a row over four seasons, Clark defeated East Chicago 28-21 last Friday night. For the Clark senior class it was their first varsity football win and it came at home.

Now if we can get Bishop Noll (0-6) that win. Noll has lost 30 games in a row. On the schedule they have Boone Grove (3-3), Whiting (4-2) and Lake Station (1-5).

That final game, Lake Station at Bishop Noll on Friday the 13th, is the chance for the Warriors to get on the right side for one night.

We should all get T-shirts saying that "We survived week 6 of 2017." I was a little worried about the boys and girls on the field in the mid-80s weather and high humidity. I hope the boys who played JV football in the 90-degree Saturday weather also survived.

Football is the only sport where you're supposed to play in dangerously hot weather early in the year and crippling cold late in the year.

The Valparaiso loss to Crown Point shows two things.

1.) Teams almost always can't get by without the quarterback who they thought they were going to have all summer. The person the rest of the team was led to believe would be their leader and they were comfortable with that. It's not like the National Football League. It's rare (CP did it last year) when a team wins the sectional championship with the backup QB. The loss of the starting QB in high school shakes team confidence no matter who the backup is.

2.) You can't win with just a good defense. There's too many games. Too many weeks with no break. Somebody scores a turnover TD on you or a special teams' TD and then you need to score a lot of points quickly. High school teams have to score more than 30 points a game to be serious contenders for any championship. Whether you score 50 or 60 a game doesn't matter. That's a product of your schedule. But if you can't post four TDs a game, you aren't going anywhere because deep in the post-season, you eventually will run into a team that can.

By the way, I know it's not 1997 when high school games were on TV every week. But doesn't anybody want to televise that Lowell (6-0) game at Hobart (5-1) on October 13? Anybody?

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


LOWELL: Lowell is the only undefeated team in Northwest Indiana after a 27-0 home win over Highland. Lowell has won all six games by 14 points or more and they have scored exactly 27 points three times. The Devils' offense is clearly more diversified now and they are spreading the 'touches' around, but I wish there were more points. Lowell scored 30 or more 26 times in the last three years (40 games). This year they've only scored more than 27 points once: against Clark. The Devils are back on the road next week at Munster (2-4) and don't tell anybody, but the Devils will be the No.1 Class 4A team in the state next week. 4A No. 1 (Evansville) Reitz lost to Memorial 41-21 last Friday.


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

LaPORTE: I've thought since the start that defending Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) champ LaPorte was the best team in the DAC. The Slicers have won three in a row after a 42-20 win at Merrillville last Friday. Detrick Merriweather gained 137 yards on 15 carries last week, but he was lost to a leg injury. Top rusher Drayson Nesop has 105 carries for 931 yards on the season. The Slicers have rushed for almost 2,000 yards in six games. LaPorte (4-2, 3-1 DAC) at Crown Point (3-3, 2-2 DAC ) next Friday is a hard game to figure.


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


PORTAGE: Again, I'm tired of talking about Anthony Maceo, but what else can you do? Anthony Maceo gained 276 yards and three TDs on 20 carries in last week's 31-21 win at Chesterton. Maceo leads NW Indiana with 16 touchdowns in six games and he wins the '1st-to-1,000 yards' contest with 1,005 yards on 123 carries. Did you know that this is the first time Portage has won back-to-back home games since 2013? CP-LaPorte is hard to figure next Friday night? How about Portage (4-2, 4-0 DAC) at Michigan City (4-2, 3-1 DAC)?


4. (6A) Valparaiso (5-1)
2016 (5-5), 2015 (7-3), 2014 (2-8), 2013 (3-7), 2012 (3-7)


VALPO: Why does Valpo drop so far in the poll? They are down two quarterbacks to injury. Third stringer CP Opperman was 12 of 23 last week, but he's a 16-year-old sophomore and it's hard to ask him to shred DAC defenses. Valpo's defense is solid. They only gave up two TDs (Valpo's 'D' has only allowed seven TDs all year) in the 21-6 loss at Crown Point, but the Vikings average 16 points a game and you can't win anything with that. Valpo gets a chance to rebound against injury-depleted Merrillville this Friday.


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


NEW CARLISLE: New Prairie outran (South Bend) Riley 42-32 last Friday for the their fifth consecutive win. Since the opening loss to LaPorte (4-2), New Prairie has scored 264 points in five wins. The Cougars don't play a DAC schedule, but Riley (3-3) is no small school and 52.8 points a game is something to take notice of. The rubber meets the road this Friday when the Cougars travel to Mishawaka to take on 3A No. 9 Marian (4-2) in a big time showdown.

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


MICHIGAN CITY: Last week, Michigan City's Daelon Wren ran for six TDs. This week, Michigan City QB Mike McCullough threw for 6 TDs. He was 14 of 22 for 340 yards against Lake Central in a 56-14 win. This game says more about LC (which has allowed 40 or more points five games in a row) than it does about MC, but the Wolves won a league road game and that's big. Wren is up to 842 yards and 10 TDs on 146 carries. Can they slow up Portage's Anthony Maceo this Friday? We'll see.


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


HOBART: Here we are again. Is Hobart (5-1) still better than Andrean (4-2) and Griffith (5-1)? Or even Crown Point (3-3)? I think they might be. Hobart did turn back Kankakee Valley 34-21 last week, the Brickies' fifth consecutive win. Nobody looks ahead, but everybody does. Hobart plays Highland (2-4) and Munster (2-4) in the next two weeks, so they're looking at being 7-1 heading into the final week and the Northwest Crossroads Conference (HCC) championship game. The final Hobart (5-1) game of the season at home against soon-to-be top-ranked Lowell (6-0) is getting bigger and stronger.


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Revised: September 24, 2017 .