A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith
|Merrillville linemen Andrez Malo (59) and Martes Lewis (70) are probably upset that the Pirates are only second in this week's poll. Merrillville stayed undefeated last week with a 27-24 overtime win at Crown Point. (Photo by Mark Smith)|
(09-13-2019) I’m curious as to what attendance is like so far this season in
Northwest Indiana and I’m told it's not good.
In three weeks of really good, dry, cool football weather, there are some half empty grandstands. For winning teams.
Believe me, I could find other things to do on Friday night as well. Nobody is required to attend the local football game. I get in free. Maybe other folks need that six dollars.
But I was very surprised that less than 200 people made the agonizing, time consuming five mile, 10-minute journey from Merrillville to Crown Point to see the undefeated Pirates win 27-24 in a very dramatic game.
Maybe it was the cool weather, in the mid-60s that kept people away. I heard it said that it was too ‘chilly.’ Wow. If folks don't like 63 degree and a 15 mile-an-hour wind, I guess I shouldn't expect to see them in October or November.
I understand not wanting to follow a losing team. We’re all front-runners. And being free on Friday night is one of my favorite things in the world right up there with sausage and cheese pizza and candy corn.
I know it takes an effort to come to the games. It can be a long, loud evening and some games are better than others. I can't sell you what you don't want to buy.
But when the local team is winning, I always eventually get drawn back to the stadium. And if the local team is undefeated?
Let's just say there’s a half-empty grandstand waiting for you.
No change at the top of the poll again this week, but once we get past the top four, there’s a fire down below.
1. (5A) Valparaiso (3-0)
2018 (10-2), 2017 (8-2), 2016 (5-5), 2015 (7-3), 2014 (2-8)
VALPARAISO – Valpo dominated LaPorte 35-0 as expected last week. The Vikings have reportedly lost senior linebacker Peyton Krutz indefinitely with an ankle injury. But we’re still waiting for someone to slow down the big, green team. The Vikings have allowed only 14 points all season and have not trailed in any game so far this year. Michigan City (2-1) will be the next squad to try this Friday in Porter County.
2. (6A) Merrillville (3-0)
2018 (7-4), 2017 (1-9), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-5), 2014 (6-6)
MERRILLVILLE – The Pirates won a dramatic game at arch-rival Crown Point when Aahric Whitehead’s 16-yard overtime pass was grabbed by senior Jeremiah Howard for a 27-24 victory. The Pirates led 21-3 and were walking down happy street when CP scored 18 points in the second half to tie the game. Merrillville was a little shaky, but they did out gain CP 325-156. They earned the win. Portage (1-2) is next in line for Merrillville this Friday.
3. (5A) Michigan City (2-1)
2018 (10-3), 2017 (9-4), 2016 (7-4), 2015 (2-7)
MICHIGAN CITY – Michigan City struggled, but turned back Chesterton 21-7. Marquan Hunt intercepted three passes from Chesterton QB Chris Mullen to help win a game that was tied 7-7 in the third quarter, in some part, due to Michigan City penalties. The Wolves have been strong defensively, but they will need much more on offense this week at undefeated Valparaiso (3-0). I’m interested in the upcoming Merrillville-Michigan City game. I think Merrillville is the better team, but local opinions differ on that.
4. (4A) New Prairie (3-0)
2018 (7-4), 2017 (11-2), 2016 (9-3), 2015 (6-4)
NEW CARLISLE – The Cougars were strong again in week three, rolling over Andrean 33-10. To be honest, I’m not sure what beating Andrean means this year. The 59ers seem hurt by injuries and inexperience at key positions. But the wins just keep on coming out on the prairie and the Cougars will win again next Friday over surprisingly weak (South Bend) St. Joseph’s (0-3). New Prairie does have Penn and Mishawaka to worry about later this season, but maybe Penn and Mishawaka should be worried about them.
5.) (4A) Morton (2-1)
2018 (9-3), 2017 (8-3), 2016 (4-7), 2015 (6-5)
HAMMOND – I know Morton is without their starting quarterback, but they’ve beaten Lake Central 21-0 and Lowell 35-23 without him. The Governors beat Lowell for the first time in four years and they are a 19-18 loss at Highland away from being undefeated. I'm not totally sold on the offense, but there’s no way they lose to Munster (0-3) this week.
6.) Chesterton (2-1)
2018 (3-7), 2017 (4-6), 2016 (2-8), 2015 (8-3)
CHESTERTON – I think the 21-7 loss at Michigan City displayed more about the Trojans than Chesterton’s 21-13 win over Hobart or the 40-0 victory over Munster. The Trojans were not effective against the MC defense, but the game was tied 7-7 in the fourth quarter. Now Chesterton has been below .500 since 2015, but have a shot at a winning season if they can win home games with Crown Point (1-2), Lake Central (2-1) and LaPorte (0-3) this Friday.
7. Crown Point (1-2)
2018 (5-7), 2017 (7-5), 2016 (6-6), 2015 (1-9), 2014 (8-2)
CROWN POINT – Crown Point had a 24-21 lead in overtime on arch-rival
Merrillville, but seniors Aahric Whitehead and Jeremiah Howard hooked up on a
16-yard TD pass to drop the Bulldogs 27-24. It wasn’t a game CP ‘should have’
won, but it was certainly a game they ‘could have’ won. Just like the Bulldogs’
21-19 loss at Lowell last month. This is obviously a quality team that give up
just enough plays to lose the close ones. At least so far. The Bulldogs have
lost two games by a total of five points, but I still think they’re better than
a Portage (1-2) team that is on a roller-coaster and
this week’s opponent, Lake Central (2-1).
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Revised: September 08, 2019 .