The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2021 NW Indiana High School Football Week-5 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



In honor of Merrillville's fifth consecutive week at the top of the poll, senior Caleb Carter (5) rocks the nickel. Merrillville at Michigan City is one of several games that could rock the poll next week. (Photo by Mark Smith)

MERRILLVILLE (09-17-2021) Brebeuf (4-0) will be the new No. 1 team in Class 3A after former No. 1 Gibson South lost 42-7 to South Warren, Kentucky last week. Brebeuf will take on Indianapolis Catholic school rival and 4A No.1 Roncalli (4-0) on September 24.

Here’s a trick question.

Where do you rank Bishop Chatard (0-4)?

Wait a minute. Chatard has lost to Warren Central (3-1) 36-25, to Class 5A No. 1 Cathedral (4-0) 38-24, to 4A No. 1 Roncalli (4-0) 28-21 and to the new 3A No. 1 Brebeuf (4-0) 24-19.

Last week, Bishop Chatard was rated No. 9 in Class 4A and obviously, they are better than 90% of the Class 4A teams in the state.

But a Top-10 team?

By the way, Chatard wins this week. They play Southport (0-4).

This week’s ‘faraway replay’ is not that faraway. It's North Judson at Knox on WHMB Channel TV-40 out of South Bend. Those guys do the best high school football broadcast I have seen and that includes the state final game. This week, I know that announcers Chuck Freeby and Bo Hundt didn’t know that much about the two schools, but they (especially Freeby) sounded like they followed them all their lives. That plus the fact that they had three cameras and frequent replays. Outstanding. But that's nothing new. WHMB’s games are all like that.

For you newcomers, the ‘faraway replay’ is the non-Northwest Indiana football game I watch Saturday morning while I’m laying on my back and recovering from walking the sidelines on Friday night. Stay with this week’s game. It gets better at the end. Better than Iowa and Iowa State.

No changes at the top of the poll. So let me talk a little bit about each team.

1. (6A) Merrillville (4-0)
2020 (10-2), 2019 (11-2), 2018 (7-4), 2017 (1-9), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-5)


MERRILLVILLE: Merrillville pulled away in the second half to top Portage 45-13, the Pirates’ fourth consecutive win by 16 points or more. Here’s a scary note. The three teams Merrillville had previously beaten before last Friday: Andrean (2-2), Hobart (2-2) and Crown Point (2-2). The 59ers, Brickies and Bulldogs all won by five touchdowns or more Friday. Says a lot about the Pirates. Merrillville is 32-8 the last four seasons. Here comes another test. On the road at Michigan City (2-2), which has lost only to Chesterton and Valparaiso (4-0). This should be a really good show.

2. (5A) Valparaiso (4-0)
2020 (8-1), 2019 (13-1), 2018 (10-2), 2017 (8-2), 2016 (5-5), 2015 (7-3)


VALPARAISO: Valparaiso just kept scoring in a 49-28 win over Michigan City last week. The game was tied 21-21 when the Vikings scored two TDs in a minute. Valpo has given up 54 points the last two weeks, but they just keep running the football. Senior running back Hayden Vinyard has rushed for 743 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns in just four games and he only played half the game against Hammond? When a team has graduation losses in the offensive line, do we automatically assume that position won't be strong the next season? We may find out this week when the green team plays at Chesterton (4-0).


.) (6A) Chesterton (4-0)
2020 (5-5), 2019 (6-4), 2018 (3-7), 2017 (4-6), 2016 (2-8), 2015 (8-3)


CHESTERTON: Chesterton topped LaPorte 42-6. This wasn’t a fair fight since LaPorte lost their starting QB in week two. Unofficially in four games, quarterback Chris Mullen is now 59 of 99 for 810 yards and 11 TDs. The 4-0 start is the Trojans' best since 2012 when they began the season 6-0 under head coach John Snyder and finished 9-2. Chesterton was also 6-0 in 2000, ending up at 8-2. The head coach was the present Crown Point athletic director Bill Dorulla. But the road to 5-0 is rough. The showdown is on. The Valparaiso Vikings (4-0) are headed for Chesterton for a neighborhood battle this Friday that will say a lot about both sides.

4.) (5A) Michigan City (2-2)
2020 (4-3), 2019 (4-6), 2018 (10-3), 2017 (9-4), 2016 (7-4)


MICHIGAN CITY: Can't drop the Wolves for getting outrun 49-28 by Valparaiso (4-0) last week. Both teams that have defeated Michigan City are undefeated. The Wolves unveiled a new sophomore quarterback, a new sheriff in town. In his first varsity start, Tyler Bush was 18 of 32 for 336 yards and two touchdowns. Who does that?? Former QB Gio Laurent was switched to wide receiver (reportedly his natural position) and caught 12 balls for 195 yards, obviously a varsity career high. Who does that? Against Valparaiso? MC didn’t win last week, but in a way, they did. I might not be able to make those rationalizations after this week's home game with Class 6A No. 2 Merrillville (4-0), the third consecutive week Michigan City has faced an undefeated team.


5.) (2A) Andrean (2-2)
2020 (11-2), 2019 (10-4), 2018 (10-2), 2017 (8-4), 2016 (5-6), 2015 (7-4)


MERRILLVILLE: Andrean dominated East Chicago 45-0 last Friday in a nonconference mismatch I’d like the 59ers get off the schedule. The 59ers scheduling problem is that, after the first two weeks, nobody from the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) is available to play them. I believe Summit Athletic Conference (SAC) teams in Fort Wayne are even less available. Last week, they went to play in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Niners played New Prairie for six seasons but that game drifted away. Soon, Hanover Central will be in the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) and Andrean will have one less non-league game. I hope it's EC because they just can't stay with Andrean these days. The 59ers begin NCC play with Highland (2-2) this week. All six teams in the NCC have records of 2-2 going into league play. Odd but true.

6.) (4A) LOWELL (2-2)
2020 (9-2), 2019 (7-5), 2018 (10-3), 2017 (14-1)


LOWELL: Lowell put down rival Griffith 42-20 last Friday in a game that was 42-7 at the half. The Devils’ running backs Joe Heuer, Ryan Marx and Dylan Ohlenkamp all scored TDs as did quarterbacks Riley Bank and John (JJ) Johnson. The last two games have been Lowell’s best of the season so far. Remember how I said that Lake Central would bump Lowell out of the poll if they defeated Crown Point. Well, CP won 42-7 and the question has come up: If CP defeated Lowell and both have .500 records (2-2), how come Crown Point isn’t ahead of Lowell in this poll? Good question: Let me get back to you after Lowell plays at Hobart this week.



7.) (6A) CROWN POINT (2-2)
2020 (3-4), 2019 (6-5), 2018 (5-7), 2017 (7-5)


CROWN POINT: Easily CP’s best game of the year last week as they rolled over Lake Central (3-1) by a 42-7 score. QB JJ Johnson threw three TD passes and the CP offensive line, which was hurt by injuries and Covid-19 absences in weeks two and three, controlled the game in week four with CP rolling up 400 yards. If the Bulldogs can keep everybody on the field, they will soon be a problem for everybody, including Portage (1-3) in Porter County this coming Friday.


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Revised: September 15, 2021 .