The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2017 NW Indiana High School Football Week-9 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Top-ranked Lowell (8-0) defended their home field last week against Andrean and will try to finish 9-0 this week when they travel to Hobart (6-2). (Photo by Mark Smith)

LOWELL (10-08-2017) Heading into the final week, most conference championships have been decided. Valparaiso (DAC), Lowell (NCC), Morton (GLAC), New Prairie (Northern Indiana Conference - South), Whiting (Greater South Shore Conference - North) and Griffith (GSSC - South) have won at least a half share of their league championships.

Tri-County and North Newton meet for the undisputed Midwest Conference title next Friday.

In the 10-team Hoosier Conference, the top five teams in the North Division face the Top-5 teams in the South Division in a final week format that is unique in this part of the state. East Division champ and Class 2A No. 2 Tipton (8-0, 4-0 East) faces the West Division champ, Class 3A No. 2 West Lafayette (7-1, 4-0 West).

When Class 6A was instituted in 2013, most Class 5A teams and all 6A teams got a bye the 10th week of the season. Some said that good teams don't want a week off late in the season. Then the new format began and nobody said they didn't want the bye week anymore. It's football and it hurts. If you can have a week off before the playoffs, you take it and you smile about it. Usually, this poll is as steady as the Cubs bullpen (what did I say?), but we have a newcomer in the seventh slot.

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


LOWELL: The Devils may have played their strongest half of the season in last week's 16-0 shutout of Andrean. The 59ers had score 30 points or more five times, but Lowell held them to an unofficial 76 total yards. I'm still uneasy with an offense that, taking away a win over Clark (1-6), is averaging 21 points a game. There's very little margin for error there. But the Devils have held all eight teams to 13 points or less. Lowell seems to be at full strength health-wise. It's all good heading to Hobart (6-2) for a hard-hitting season finale.


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


VALPO: Valpo held on to top Portage 23-20 and take first place in the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC). The Vikings are in the same spot as Lowell. They average 18.5 points per game and it's just hard to beat good teams consistently with 17-20 points. There is more talk the Vikings will get starting QB Jake Leffew back as early as this week's final regular season game against Lake Central (2-6). The Vikings then get a much needed bye week before a 6A Sectional 2 game with Penn (7-1).


3. (6A) LaPorte (5-3)
2016 (9-2), 2015 (6-4), 2014 (8-6), 2013 (1-9), 2012 (1-9)

LaPORTE: LaPorte led 52-35 in the third quarter, but they needed a miracle pass from Nick Lorenz to Mark Haines on the final play of the game to win a track meet, 58-56 over Michigan City. For the second week in a row, the Slicers ran for 500 yards on a team with a winning record. LaPorte has run for 3,200 yards in eight games and yes, that is 400 yards a game. LaPorte hosts Portage to close the regular season this Friday.


4. (4A) New Prairie (7-1)
2016 (9-3), 2015 (6-4), 2014 (13-2), 2013 (12-1), 2012 (9-2)


NEW CARLISLE: New Prairie ran over Glenn 49-0 for the Cougars' seventh consecutive victory. That's the seventh week in a row New Prairie has scored 40 or more and the fifth time they've held the opposition to 10 points or less. The Cougars got a good draw in the post-season, a road game at (South Bend) Washington (3-4). The Cougars won at Washington 46-7 last month. The trip means that the Cougars would host Mishawaka (5-3) in the 4A Sectional 18 semifinals and they'd rather be at home against Mishawaka than Washington. New Prairie ends the regular season with a home game against Jimtown (4-4) Friday.


5. (6A) Crown Point (5-3)
2016 (6-6), 2015 (1-9), 2014 (8-4), 2013 (6-4)


CROWN POINT: Crown Point won for the third week in a row, 21-7 at Chesterton. After allowing 500 rushing yards to LaPorte, the Bulldogs' defense rebounded against a team with a 'normal' offense. Halfback Tyler Gomez ran for 100 yards for the seventh game in a row. CP was 2-5 last year and they ended up at 6-6. This season the Bulldogs began with a 2-3 record. Crown Point clinches a winning record for the season if they can defeat Michigan City (5-3) this Friday.

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


MICHIGAN CITY: Michigan City scored 56 points last week in a game where the opposition scored 58. Okay, now I sound insane. Just because LaPorte runs the ball for 500 yards on you does not mean you have a bad run defense as crazy as that sounds. Michigan City has allowed 50 points or more twice this year. But the Wolves' defense is really pretty good. Look for Michigan City to bounce back defensively against a 'normal' rushing team, Crown Point (5-3) on the road this Friday.


7. (4A) Morton (6-2)
2016 (4-7), 2015 (6-5), 2014 (10-2), 2013 (8-2)


HAMMOND: It came down to Hobart (6-2), Rensselaer (7-1), Griffith (7-1) or Portage (4-4). The Portage Indians have lost their last two. Hobart has played poorly two weeks in a row. Griffith's schedule is much softer than Rensselaer's and Rensselaer's schedule is softer than Morton's, although not by much. After early season losses to Lowell (8-0) and Plymouth (6-2), Morton seems on the rise. They have a sophomore at QB, but they have averaged 38 points a game the last four weeks. The Governors will be 7-2 after this week's season finale with Clark and they open the post-season against East Chicago, a team they topped 42-10 last Friday. Can they beat Griffith (7-1)? In Class 4A Sectional 17, they will get that chance.


Copyright 2017 and Meyer Multimedia Services, a division of Meyer Broadcasting Corp.  All rights reserved.
Revised: October 08, 2017 .