The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-8':
2020 NW Indiana High School Football Week-8 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Nobody is on the rise more than Andrean (6-1) which coasted past out-manned Munster 42-3 for their sixth win in a row last week. (Photo by Mark Smith)

MERRILLVILLE (10-05-2020) The year 2020 remains a rare one. Valparaiso can't play four regular season football games. Hammond schools cancel the season and then they turn around and play the final 3 games.


And now, Lowell has to forfeit five victories after they self-reported using an ineligible player in those games. So Lowell (6-0) is officially 1-5 for the season and Crown Point, Portage, Wheeler, Kankakee Valley and Griffith all get a win in a game they actually lost.


I don't know the details of this and I probably won't find out. The question here is: Who has what record? Whatís real and what isnít? This has happened before and I handle it the same way.


To me, wins and losses on the field are real and thatís what will be reflected here. I will mention often that Lowell has forfeited five of their wins, but I will list their record as 6-0 because thatís what they earned on the field. The IHSAA says Lowell is 1-5, but this poll will have them at 6-0 because thatís what the outcome of those six games was.


The Northwest Crossroads Conference will have Lowell at 1-1 (they lose the victory over Kankakee Valley) but I will report them as 2-0 because thatís what the outcome of the games were. I donít want to give KV, Portage, Crown Point, Wheeler and Griffith credit for games they didn't win on the field. The records of those five teams here will be what they were including a loss to Lowell. In the end, it isnít that big a deal.

It doesnít matter what a teamsí record is once the state tournament begins on October 23.

What is not reflected here (this week, at least) is the 2020 Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) state tournament draw which will be released late Thursday, October 8. Class 5A and Class 6A teams will get a first round bye, but the other four classes (1A to 4A) will begin the postseason on October 23. Weíll talk about who plays who next week.

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


MERRILLVILLE: I was surprised at Bishop Chatard scoring 45 points on Merrillvilleís highly-rated defense last week, and even more surprised at the 550 yards gained against the purple boys. But the 45-28 loss does not hurt the Pirates if they didnít lose anyone to injury last Friday. Pirate QB Angel Nelson completed 21 of 31 passes for a career-best 354 yards. The Merrillville issue down the line regarding last Friday is: How much is the offense of undefeated and Class 6A Sectional 1 rival Jefferson (7-0) like Chatardís? They appear to be similar. While a 17-point loss is a 17-point loss, Merrillville might have gotten a playoff rehearsal last week, which would be a good thing. I canít drop the Pirates for losing to one of the stateís best teams. Merrillville does have solid wins over 2A No. 1 Andrean (6-1) and 4A No. 9 Hobart (4-2). I think the Pirates are the best team in Northwest Indiana.

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


VALPARAISO: Let me say this again. It does not matter how many regular season games you play. Nine is a totally arbitrary number. You can play five games, as Valparaiso will, or eight, as Hobart and Merrillville will. Or seven as Michigan City will. Linemen especially donít need to play nine weeks in a row to be ready for the post-season. Two-way players need to be 100% healthy and rested for the playoffs. Teams that play nine regular season games have no advantage over teams that play five, six or seven. Valpo, which has not played since September 18, gets back on the home field to take on Portage (2-5) this Friday and theyíll look to finish the regular season on October 16 at Lake Central (1-6). Then the green team gets another bye week (Oct. 23) before the Class 5A Sectional 9 playoffs.

3.) (2A) Andrean (6-1)
2019 (10-4), 2018 (10-2), 2017 (8-4), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-4)


MERRILLVILLE: Nobody is on the rise more than Andrean, which coasted past out-manned Munster 42-3 for their sixth win in a row last week. The 59ers gave up 40 points to Merrillville (5-1) on opening night and have allowed a TOTAL of 51 points in the six games since then. Going back three years, Andrean has won 12 games in a row in the month of October. Now, for the big finish: Andrean travels to Kankakee Valley (5-2) and then hosts Lowell (6-0). Two wins make the 59ers the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) champ.

.) (4A) Hobart (4-2)
2019 (11-3), 2018 (7-3), 2017 (6-4), 2016 (10-3), 2015 (5-5)


HOBART: Hobart finally looked like the Brickie team that rolled to the regional title last year when they overpowered Kankakee Valley 41-17 last week. What got into Brickie QB Riley Johnston? The veteran Hobart QB completed 12 of 16 passes last week for a career-high 343 yards and Johnston also ran the ball nine times for 116 more yards. More impressively, Hobart held KV to just 90 yards rushing on 34 carries. Hobart ends the regular season with Highland (3-3) and Munster (1-6) and that looks like two wins. The draw comes out Thursday and, the way Hobart rolled last Friday, I think the Brickies wouldn't mind drawing rival Lowell (6-0) right away.


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


CHESTERTON: Another shutout? A week after beating Portage 20-0, Chesterton topped Lake Central 42-0. This is a team that allowed 23 points a game the first five weeks. Once again, the Trojans' record is VERY deceptive. The three losses are to Pioneer (6-1), Hobart (4-2) and Valparaiso (3-0), all Top-10 teams. Chesterton heads for Crown Point (3-3) this week and they then close the year at Merrillville (5-1). But Chestertonís sectional foes include Penn (3-4) and Elkhart (6-0), two teams they just donít see during the regular season. Thatís why its very hard to predict what Chesterton will do in the post-season.

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


MICHIGAN CITY: Michigan City turned back Portage 28-7 for their fourth win in five game as the Wolves rolled up 357 yards of total offense. MC closes the season at home with games against LaPorte (2-5) and Crown Point (3-3) before they get a bye on October 23. It's very difficult to tell how good this team is because they did not play Merrillville (5-1) or Valparaiso (3-0), but it should be noted that the Aug. 28 Michigan City win at Warsaw 41-21 still stands as Warsawís only loss of the season. Michigan Cityís season pivots on the 5A Sectional 9 matchup with Valparaiso (3-0). Theyíve known that since Ďday oneí.

7.) (4A) LOWELL (6-0)

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


LOWELL: Lowell was solid last week, getting the lead early and running out the clock late to win at Highland 27-7. QB Cam Stojancevich tossed two TD passes to Michael Havel-Ericks. A good night for the offensive line as Joe Heuer ran for 200 yards. I donít have Lowell ahead of teams like Chesterton and Michigan City, who I think have more firepower and have faced a tougher schedule. I talked about Lowell having to forfeit five of their wins this year, but that truly hasnít affected the Ďend gameí of their season. The Devils can still share the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) championship and Lowell still gets a ticket to the Class 4A Sectional 17 playoffs.


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Revised: October 04, 2020 .