The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2016 NW Indiana High School Football Week-7 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Hanover Central's football program is clearly moving on up after the 21-0 victory over 2A No.1 Whiting last Friday night in Whiting. (Photo by Mark Smith)

LaPORTE (9-26-2016) The biggest game last week truly didn't touch this poll as Hanover Central (6-0) topped 2A No. 1 Whiting by a surprising 21-0 score.


Quietly, folks at Hanover are not very surprised. They seemed to know that when 50-60 boys turned out for football thee years ago that they'd have the depth to move quickly to the top of the Greater South Shore Conference (GSSC). Hanover was the largest school in the GSSC the day they joined the league.

With Griffith leaving the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) to join the GSSC in 2017, the other six NCC teams have a hole on their football schedules. In a perfect world, Hanover might like to fill one or two of those vacancies, but the GSSC teams seem to be playing (I don't know if that's a league rule) only the other nine GSSC schools.

In a really perfect world, Hanover (listed with 699 students) would take the place of Griffith (766 teens) in the NCC and play 'sister school' and neighbor Lowell in all sports. That's what I'd like to see.

But part of Hanover's desire to be in the larger league was to play public schools their size like Griffith and I don't know if the HC coaches in other sports believe they're capable of being competitive against the larger NCC schools like Munster (1,511) and Hobart (1,326) in all sports.

Plus, now by doing nothing but waiting, Hanover gets a football game every year against tradition-rich Griffith, a school about 10 miles away. As for the NCC, I don't think being a 6-team league is much different than being a 7-team league. I've always thought that eight is the perfect number for a high school conference because it creates the chance for league playoffs in team sports.

Some day, Hanover may be in the NCC with southern rivals Lowell and Kankakee Valley, but 2017 does not seem like that day.

In a 1A battle of unbeaten teams, No. 3 Pioneer smoked out No. 8 LaVille 42-14. Get ready for 1A No. 1 Lafayette Catholic (6-0) playing 3A No. 2 West Lafayette (5-1) next Friday. And did anybody else see that Hancock County (east suburban Indianapolis) New Palestine, which was 13-1 in 2015, 15-0 in 2014 and 13-1 in 2013, scored 12 touchdowns Friday night in an 84-21 victory over Greenfield-Central (3-3)? The New Palestine boys basketball team never scored 80 points in a game all last season.

1. (6A) LaPorte (6-0)
2015 (6-4), 2014 (8-6), 2013 (1-9), 2012 (1-9)


LaPORTE: LaPorte must be a fun team to watch because nobody can stop them and they can't stop much of anybody. Last week, fullback Chris Juskiewicz ran for TD runs of 50, 57 and 78 yards to lead the Slicers to a big 46-35 win over high-scoring Merrillville.
LaPorte ran for an impressive 465 yards in posting their sixth consecutive win pulling away from a 35-35 tie. The Slicers have rushed for 1,890 yards, over 300 per game. They are also allowing a robust and frightening 300 yards and 22 points a game but lets not be down talking the Slicers here. LaPorte was 6-0 in 2005 and they have not been 7-0 since 1946 when the Slicers went 9-0. Since the starts of the IHSAA state football tournament in 1973, LaPorte has never completed an undefeated regular season.


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


VALPARAISO: Valparaiso had to push and pull on Crown Point's strong defense, but the Vikings won 21-7 last Friday, their third big DAC win in a row. The Vikes have only lost to big school No. 1 Penn (6-0) and No. 9 LaPorte (6-0). Big Jay Bisacky caught seven passes for 135 yards and two TDs (both in the first quarter) and now has 25 catches for 532 yards on the year. Big Zach Jones ran for 110 yards and now has 596 on 73 carries. Next week's game at Merrillville (3-3, 2-2 DAC) is, well, 'big' because if Valpo wins, a 7-2 regular season seems likely. It would be bigger for Valpo if LaPorte drew Penn in the four team Class 6A Sectional 2 next month. That would be a big break for the other Sectional 2 schools, Chesterton and Valparaiso.


3. (5A) Michigan City (5-1)
2015 (2-7), 2014 (4-6), 2013 (2-8), 2012 (2-8), 2011 (1-9)


LOWELL: Michigan City had a wonderful comeback last week, trailing 42-28 at the half and rallying to win over Lake Central 46-42. It looked like a basketball game early, but the Wolves scored three TDs in the fourth quarter. Aryuan Cain-Veasey ran for 311 yards and is up to 873 on the season on 100 carries. Michigan City gained 613 total yards. It's fair to be worried about Michigan City giving up so many yards and points. They allowed 400 yards to LC and have given up 106 yards in the last three games. I still think Michigan City will be in good shape when the weather changes and teams are limited to running the ball. But when does that happen? November? Michigan City averages 32 points a game and you wonder what happens when they play LaPorte County rival LaPorte, who averages 36 a game. I still don't know about Michigan City.


4. (6A) MERRILLVILLE (3-3)
2015 (7-5), 2014 (6-6), 2013 (9-2), 2012 (11-3)


MERRILLVILLE: Merrillville followed up their 42-35 loss to Michigan City with a 46-35 loss at LaPorte last week. What happens when they take on powerful Valparaiso this week? The Pirates have lost to Penn (6-0), LaPorte (6-0) and Michigan City (5-1) and they may have lost top receiver James Kirklen (19 catches, 426 yards, 5 TDs) to injury last week. Rookie QB Cam Wright leads Northwest Indiana with 1,314 passing yards and 11 passing TDs and Davion Ervin-Poindezter is over 600 yards rushing in six games. Merrillville averages 28.0 points per game and they average allowing 28.7 points per game. That dog won't hunt.


5. (6A) Portage (4-2)
2015 (1-10), 2014 (1-9), 2013 (6-4), 2012 (3-7)


PORTAGE: Portage isn't setting the world on fire offensively, but they ran up to 4-2 after a 22-13 win at Chesterton. It's funny how a team like Michigan City rolls up points like they're going out of style and they're sensational with their offense. Portage averages 19 points a game and squeaks by and they are basically in the same place. It's better to win 46-42 than it is 7-3, I guess. With that said, Portage, like Merrillville has allowed more points (117) than they have scored (114). Junior quarterback Anthony Maceo ran 26 times for 203 yards against Chesterton. For the season, he's at 704 yards on 138 carries. Portage hosts Michigan City (5-1) this week and we'll see if their defense can hold down the hard running Wolves.


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


NEW CARLISLE: We may have been ignoring the obvious here. The Cougars, who are matched up with Hobart (4-2) and Andrean (3-3) in 4A Sectional 18, have won five in a row including last week's 70-14 victory at Riley in South Bend. New Prairie's only loss is 21-20 at LaPorte (6-0) and that loss looks better every day. Junior option quarterback Nick Wilson (5-10, 167) has run 132 times for 896 yards and 13 touchdowns while completing 24 of 51 passes for 516 yards and six TDs. The Cougars have won all five games by 10 points or more and have 27 rushing touchdowns this season with a 6.5 yards per carry average. We'll know more this Friday when the Cougars host 3A No. 3 (Mishawaka) Marian (6-0).


7. (4A) ANDREAN (3-3)
2015 (7-4), 2014 (14-1), 2013 (15-0)


MERRILLVILLE The problems the 59ers had earlier in the season are behind them, at least, on the offensive side of the ball. The Niners have posted back-to-back victories over Hobart 55-28 and Highland 52-28 to get back to the .500 mark. Who on earth is Teely Rhyne? I don't know but the 6-foot, 150 pound junior just gained 309 yards on 34 carries last week at Highland. For the season, he has 718 yards on 102 carries. The Niners line him up as a long-striding single back with four wide receivers and suddenly the points are back on the scoreboard after a 1-3 start. Senior QB Patrick Reardon is 40 of 83 or 431 yards passing plus 326 and Emilio Starks (5-10, 164) has 18 catches for 214 yards. Defensivey? Let's not talk about that. I know the Niners have allowed 162 points (27.0) in six games, but let's see if they can tighten that up at Kankakee Valley (2-4) and at Griffith (4-2) the next two weeks.


2015 (6-4), 2014 (4-5)


CEDAR LAKE: The Wildcats made their case for relevancy with a surprising 21-0 victory at 2A No. 1 Whiting last week. Realistically, they could not defeat even the last place team in the DAC. It's not criticism to say that. Hanover is a small 3A public school that plays largely a Class 2A schedule. But the win over the No. 1 Oilers makes HC the eighth team this week in our seven-team poll. Hey, it's a position of honor. It wasn't the 21 points scored, so much as the zero points allowed against a Whiting team that had not been shut out since 2011. Whiting had scored at least 24 points in every game before last Friday. The Cats, who just restarted the football program just three years ago, have thrown just 34 passes all season. But Dustin Lindley carried 24 times for 150 yards against Whiting and, for the season, has 95 carries for 701 yards. James Delange has run 66 times for 617 yards while Vince Liggin has 505 yards on 57 carries. HC has allowed only 27 points scored against them all year. Now, the Wildcats become the target for Wheeler (2-4) this Friday, South Central (5-1) on October 7 and North Newton (5-1) on October 14. The road gets much tougher for them now.

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Revised: September 25, 2016 .