The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2018 NW Indiana High School Football Week-8 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



The Vikings on the wall at Valpo high school are scary, but not as scary as the Viking defense which has boosted Valpo to five wins in a row. Valparaiso clinches first place in the Duneland Athletic Conference if they win this week at Portage. (Photo by Mark Smith)

VALPARAISO (10-01-2018) It's time. The parings for the 46th state football tournament will be announced this Sunday, making some happy and others sad.

All 6A and most 5A teams will get a first round bye in playoff competition, so the draw is more crucial to the smaller schools.

I’ll say again that I wish that 1A teams got byes instead of 5As.
It would be an easy change to make. Just fill the 64-team 5A, 4A, 3A and 2A brackets and leave the final teams (35 to 40) in 1A giving many small schools a bye.

Small schools have two-way players and small rosters. Big schools could use the byes. But Class 1A schools badly need the byes.

Let's talk about what what each ranked team here needs to get when they read the brackets on Sunday.

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


VALPARAISO – Valpo shut down Merrillville 20-6 last week, the fifth consecutive week the Vikings have held a DAC opponent to less than 10 points. Reece Crossin grabbed two interceptions as the Vikings went 5-0 in league play.


The Vikings are in a 4-team sectional with Penn (6-1), Warsaw (5-2) and Chesterton (1-6). They need to draw an away game at Chesterton. Penn and Warsaw would say the same thing.

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


MICHIGAN CITY – MC rolled over Portage 49-14 with dominating play on both sides of the ball. The Wolves howled up almost 500 yards and led 28-0 before Portage scored at all. MC has lost only to Valparaiso (5-2) and Illinois power Homewood-Flossmoor (5-1).


Nothing. MC is in a 4-team sectional with LaPorte (2-5), Adams (2-5) and Munster (1-6). I’m guessing they’d like to open the playoffs at LaPorte so they can host either Adams or Munster, but it doesn't matter who they draw or where the game is played.


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


MERRILLVILLE – The 59ers rolled past Kankakee Valley 53-21, the fourth week in a row where they’ve had a four touchdown lead and could rest their starters. Andrean has played five road games (six if you count the 59ers game nine blocks away at Merrillville), and they finish with two home games. The 59ers have scored 248 points in the last five games. QB Zach Merrill has thrown 21 TDs.
They close the year at home against Lowell (5-1) and Highland (3-3).


Andrean is in an 8-team sectional with superpower West Lafayette (7-0). The 59ers want to draw anybody but West Lafayette on the road in the quarterfinals and semifinals. That way they get West Lafayette to come to Merrillville.


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

MERRILLVILLE – A bad Friday for the Pirates. Seven turnovers in a 20-6 loss to Valparaiso? Merrillville has a 21-point loss to Michigan City (5-2), a 12-point loss to Penn (6-1) and a 13-point loss to Valparaiso (5-2). The Pirates do have that 20-14 win over Andrean (6-1), but this is a good team that has played a very strong schedule.


Merrillville is in the four team Class 6A Sectional 2 with Portage (4-3), Crown Point (3-4) and Lake Central (2-5). They need to draw Lake Central. Right now, everybody wants to draw Lake Central.

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


HOBART – Hobart turned back Highland 28-14 and they close the season on the road at Munster (1-6) and Lowell (6-1). Hobart has an unusual schedule because they only play one team (KV) that is in their sectional. They play certain teams for their Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) championship and another set of teams for the sectional title. That’s going to change and soon. The Brickies play teams (Lowell, Highland, Munster, East Chicago) that are in 4A Sectional 17 during the regular season and the truth is, Hobart should be (and used to be) in Sectional 17. When any of the three smallest 4A Sectional 17 teams Gary West Side (739), Gavit (827) or Griffith (787) drops to 3A (which is almost certain to happen next year) Hobart will be back in 4A Sectional 17.


Hobart wants to draw Clay (0-6). That’s no secret. Clay has allowed 290 points in six games.


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


NEW CARLISLE – The Cougars got beat 35-7 by 6A No. 3 Penn (6-1). Not a shock. The surprise is that they even scheduled Penn. The Cougars have defeated 4A No. 15 St. Joseph’s (4-3), but they have lost to 4A No. 5 Mishawaka (6-1) and 3A No. 8 Andrean (6-1). If they suffered no injuries, the loss to Penn is meaningless.


Mishawaka and St. Joseph’s are rivals of New Prairie in Class 4A Sectional 18. So is Hobart (6-1) and Riley (4-3), the team New Prairie faces this Friday. New Prairie wants to draw Clay (0-6). Everybody does. NP played Clay earlier and won 55-0. And if New Prairie had their choice, Hobart (6-1) would draw Mishawaka (6-1) in the first round and St. Joe (4-3) would draw Riley (4-3).
The draw means quite a bit in 4A Sectional 18.

7. (4A) Lowell (6-1)
2017 (14-1), 2016 (9-5), 2015 (9-5), 2014 (12-1), 2014 (8-5)


LOWELL – Lowell turned back Munster 21-12 and they got injured Ethan Igras back at quarterback. The Devils are going to suddenly become an offensive Tsunami of yards and points, but Igras is a good passer which can't help but open up their running attack. The Devils’ defense has allowed just 36 points all season, but they get the challenge of the year this week from 3A No. 5 Andrean (6-1).


Lowell is in the 8-team 4A Sectional 17 with Morton (5-2), Griffith (5-2) and a lot of teams that have issues. Lowell might want to draw Hammond (0-6) or Gary West Side (1-6) in the first game. But they also might want to play Morton (5-2) right away because the winner of that game will face lesser foes the next two weeks.


Copyright © 2018 and Meyer Multimedia Services, a division of Meyer Broadcasting Corp.  All rights reserved.
Revised: September 30, 2018 .