The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2018 NW Indiana High School Football Week-9 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Andrean jumped to an early lead and clinched a first place finish in the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) last Friday. (Photo by Mark Smith)

VALPARAISO (10-08-2018) All the votes won't be in until this Friday night, but Northwest Indiana conferences named their winners last week.

Valparaiso’s 17-7 win over Portage put the Vikings (6-2, 6-0 DAC) into the winner’s circle in the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC). Michigan City (6-2, 5-1 DAC) can tie Valpo if the Vikings lose next Friday to Lake Central (2-6), but that would be the biggest upset in this area in this century.

Class 3A No. 5 Andrean (7-1, 4-0 NCC) virtually locked up the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) with a 36-15 win over Lowell (6-2, 4-1 NCC). Both Lowell and Hobart (7-1, 4-1 NCC) can still tie for the league title, but for that to happen, Andrean would have to lose at home to Highland (4-4, 3-2 NCC).

That’s not as unlikely as Valpo losing to LC, but it would still be a shocker to me.

Morton (6-2, 4-0) has clinched the Great Lakes Athletic Conference (GLAC) with one week left. The Governors have a two-game lead on Clark (3-5, 2-2) and East Chicago (4-4, 2-2).

Whiting (8-0, 5-0) and Griffith (6-2, 6-0) have won their divisions in the Greater South Shore Conference. Whiting is the North division champ and Griffith is the south division champion. Both have two-game leads on the second place teams. It's over. The nine-team, two division Greater South Shore Conference (GSSC) has two champions.

The most definitive conference championship occurs in the 10-team, two division Hooiser. The 10 league teams leaves the final week of the season vacant on the schedule and they get to play the team that finished in the same place they did in the opposite division.

Rensselaer (5-3, 2-2 Hoosier-North) finished second in the North division and they will play Western (6-2, 3-1 Hoosier-South), the second place team in the south division. The league championship game will pit South division champ Tipton (8-0, 4-0) against Hoosier-North division champ West Lafayette (8-0, 4-0). This ‘league playoff format’ is great for the sport of high school football and the Greater South Shore Conference should adopt this concept immediately.

This week brings the final regular season games and teams are divided into two categories. Schools that must play on October 19th in the sectional quarterfinals and teams that get a bye that night.
You can't lose a game you don’t play.

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


VALPARAISO – Valpo turned back Portage 17-7 to win a half-share of the DAC championship. The Vikings have won six in a row. There is a concern over how far a team that averages just under 22 points a game can go. But Mishawaka and Penn are the only teams that have scored 10 points or more on Valparaiso. The Vikings end the regular season at Lake Central and they get that bye week that all Class 6A teams get.

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


MICHIGAN CITY – MC rolled over LaPorte 52-8 with Lyric McFarrin rushing 18 times for 235 yards and three TDs. The Wolves have scored 192 points in the four games McFarrin has started on offense. The Wolves have Crown Point in the season finale and they then get a bye week that most all 5A teams get. I’m not supposed to say this, but Michigan City has an amazingly easy path to the regional. They cannot face a team with a winning record.


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


MERRILLVILLE – The 59ers jumped to a 15-0 lead in the first five minutes and rolled over Lowell 36-15 to clinch first place in the NCC. Senior end Tyler Thomas caught TD passes of 37 and 45 yards. QB Zach Merrill (13 of 23, 192 yards) has now thrown 23 TDs. The 59ers were hardly perfect with nine penalties for 100 yards. It wasn’t their best game. I know how that sounds. They won 35-15. But Andrean has to play better than they did last week or it’ll be basketball season very soon. The regular season finale is at home Friday against Highland (4-4) and the Niners need a strong performance heading into a difficult sectional.


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

MERRILLVILLE – Merrillville stopped Lake Central 31-14, but I still can't rank them above an Andrean team they defeated in August. It's true, the Pirates have lost only to Penn (7-1), Valparaiso (6-2) and Michigan City (6-2), but I’m not sure anyone who has seen both teams would bet on Merrillville in a rematch. Good thing for the Pirates. They face only LC (2-6), Crown Point (3-5) and Portage (4-4) in 6A Sectional 1. Merrillville lost 28-16 to Penn in August and they may get a rematch in November.

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


HOBART – The Brickies rolled over Munster 49-12 for their third consecutive win last Friday. Hobart has defeated Culver Academy (5-2), Highland (4-4) and East Chicago (4-4), but I’d bet they’d like a road win at Lowell (6-2) Friday to make the regular season complete. You get the feeling this team has not proven itself yet. The time is now. Class 4A teams like Hobart do not get a bye in the first round of the state tournament starting October 19.


6. (4A) New Prairie (5-3)
2017 (11-2), 2016 (9-3), 2015 (6-4), 2014 (13-2)


NEW CARLISLE – The Cougars turned down Riley 35-13 in Northern Indiana Conference (NIC) play. That’s the first 35-point (or more) game for the Cougars. New Prairie might be better than Hobart, but that’s what we have the Class 4A playoffs for. The Cougars lost only to 6A No. 5 Penn (7-1), 4A No. 5 Mishawaka (6-1) and 3A No. 5 Andrean (7-1). Oddly, the Cougars could finish 3-0 against 5A teams and 3-2 against schools that are Class 3A and 4A. New Prairie closes the nine-game schedule at home against Elkhart Central (4-4).

7. (4A) Lowell (6-2)
2017 (14-1), 2016 (9-5), 2015 (9-5), 2014 (12-1), 2014 (8-5)


LOWELL – Lowell lost 36-15 at Andrean trailing 15-0 after five minutes. The Devils’ defense had allowed just 36 points all season and the 36 they gave up at Andrean are a little misleading. Two points came on a safety and then seven more after the safety-punt. Seven more came on a kickoff return. The Devils have to produce more on offense and they did move the ball a little better against the 59ers. The Devils host Hobart (7-1) to end the regular season and both teams win that game if nobody else gets hurt. 4A teams don’t get that first round sectional bye.


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Revised: October 07, 2018 .