A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith
|Chesterton football is walking on sunshine these days. The Trojans carry a 5-game win streak into Friday's home game against Crown Point. (Photo by Mark Smith)|
(10-07-2019) When New Prairie got the number one ranking in Class 4A last
month, I admit I didn't totally buy it.
The way state rankings work is often that your team moves up, not on merit, but because the teams ahead of you in the poll lose a game.
But New Prairie as a No. 1 is justified.
Northwest Indiana newspapers and media don't always consider New Prairie a ‘Northwest Indiana’ team, probably because the conference the Cougars play in is a South Bend area league. New Prairie is the western-most team in the Northern Indiana Conference (NIC).
If the former Griffith coach Russ Radtke was not coaching New Prairie, they wouldn't get a mention west of LaPorte County. But the Class 4A Cougars have defeated four schools that are either 5A or 6A.
In Class 4A Sectional 18, the only team having an outstanding season is Plymouth (6-1) and Sectional 18 faces Sectional 17 (Morton, Lowell, Hobart) at the regional level.
Everybody’s going to hear from New Prairie next month.
1. (5A) Valparaiso (7-0)
2018 (10-2), 2017 (8-2), 2016 (5-5), 2015 (7-3), 2014 (2-8)
VALPARAISO – Valpo came from 18 points behind to defeat Merrillville 29-28 and take over first place in the Duneland Athletic (DAC) conference. This was a game where both teams can walk away saying they were superior, but Valpo did gain over 400 yards on the Pirate defense. The Vikings have two opponents left: Portage (1-6) and Lake Central (3-4), neither of whom can beat them barring a massive snow storm or several Viking players mistakenly thinking the game is set for Saturday.
2. (6A) Merrillville (6-1)
2018 (7-4), 2017 (1-9), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-5), 2014 (6-6)
MERRILLVILLE – The Pirates watched an 18-point lead slip away and lost 29-28 to Valparaiso. In week three, the Pirates led Crown Point 21-3 and saw the Bulldogs rally to tie it up and send the game to overtime. This is the moment where I’m supposed to say something big and bold about a team that loses two 18-point leads on the road in the same season. But I don't have those answers.
3. (4A) New Prairie (7-0)
2018 (7-4), 2017 (11-2), 2016 (9-3), 2015 (6-4)
NEW CARLISLE – The Cougars posted one of the big wins in program history when they beat Penn 21-17. The Cougars have had some good seasons, the best being the state finals’ run in 2014. But it would appear that the Cougars will be playing well into November. But that does not mean they will go 9-0. The undefeated New Prairie season is on the line at Riley (4-3) in South Bend Friday and at Elkhart Central on Oct. 18.
4. Chesterton (5-2)
2018 (3-7), 2017 (4-6), 2016 (2-8), 2015 (8-3)
CHESTERTON – The Trojans rolled over Lake Central 38-0 last week, the fourth time they’ve won by 18 points or more this fall. Without seeing them in person, it appears this team is on the rise as the playoffs approach. Remember, this is the school that has never won a sectional championship. With Penn (3-4) hurting and Portage (1-6) down and out, it looks like Class 6A Sectional 2 will come down to Chesterton (5-2) or Warsaw (6-1).
5. (4A) Morton (6-1)
2018 (9-3), 2017 (8-3), 2016 (4-7), 2015 (6-5)
HAMMOND – Morton coasted over Hammond 71-0, but I’m dropping them in the poll. What? When you consider there must have been a ’running clock’ throughout the entire second half, to score 71 says something about Morton and a lot about Hammond (0-6). The schedule isn't helping the Governors right now. I don't think Morton (6-1) at East Chicago (5-2) this Friday is an even game, but the Cardinals have earned the right to get whipped.
6. Crown Point (4-3)
2018 (5-7), 2017 (7-5), 2016 (6-6), 2015 (1-9), 2014 (8-2)
CROWN POINT – Crown Point turned back LaPorte 21-10 last week, but the Bulldogs still do not have a victory over a team with a winning record. The losses are to Lowell (5-2), Merrillville (6-1) and Valparaiso (7-0) but you cant stay ranked much longer by losing to winning teams. There will be changes in this poll this Friday night when CP (4-3) rides the big, yellow bus to Chesterton (5-2).
7.) Hobart (5-2)
2018 (7-3), 2017 (6-4), 2016 (10-3), 2015 (5-5)
HOBART – Hobart (5-2) stays ahead of Michigan City (3-4) and Lowell (5-2) due to a 5-game winning streak surrounding losses to Chesterton (5-2) and Merrillville (6-1). The Brickies looked strong again in a 35-0 win over Highland last Friday and they will romp over out-manned Munster (0-7) this coming Friday. Here’s another team that has not defeated anyone with a winning record, but the season-ending match with Lowell (5-2) will tell a lot of truth on October 18.
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Revised: October 09, 2019 .