Gorch on the Porch: An education on state high school polls

Photo by Jennifer HeathMichigan City lineman Oscar Potts Jr., trots off the field against Chesterton at Ames Field after recovering a fumble.

Earlier this week — on Sunday night at 10:17 p.m., to be exact — there was a screen shot posted showing an Indiana high school football poll after last Friday’s games.

It showed Michigan City (3-2 overall record) at No. 3 in the Class 5A state rankings behind Indianapolis Roncalli and Indianapolis Cathedral, which is 1-4, but has lost to powerhouse schools from Kentucky (Louisville St. Xavier), Michigan (Detroit King) and Ohio (Pickerington Central and Cincinnati St. Xavier), all on the road.

The poll that looked legitimate enough also had La Porte (also 3-2) at No. 6.

Mind you, this isn’t a Northern Indiana poll. It’s supposedly of the whole state.

Here’s the weirdest aspect: Who knows where it came from.

You see, there are really only two football polls in the state — the Associated Press media poll in which I was a voter for a couple years, and the Indiana Football Coaches Association (IFCA) poll in which coaches vote.

The consensus is that the coaches poll in any sport is a better gauge since they usually know the better teams. And in case you were wondering, I don’t think coaches are allowed to vote for their own team.

In those two OFFICIAL polls, Michigan City is No. 8 in both while La Porte is just outside the top 10 in the media poll in “Others receiving votes” and No. 7 in the IFCA poll, just ahead of City.

In all my scouring of the internet, I can’t find that other poll, but I know it existed somewhere because I have the screenshot saved on my phone. But as a former voter in the media poll, I also know the one I received on Sunday night is bogus because the two OFFICIAL polls aren’t released until Monday evening.

Heck, the deadline for media to vote in the AP poll is actually Monday afternoon, so how could a poll exist on Sunday night?

Still, No. 7 and 8 for our local 5A schools in the coaches poll is pretty good, and that should make for another great rivalry game in a couple weeks.

Now for the small school end of the polls … where the heck in South Central?

Yeah, I know that the sarcastic answer is in Union Mills, a small town southwest of La Porte and just north of U.S. 30, but I’m talking about the football team in the Class A polls.

The Satellites are playing well at 4-1 overall, and are definitely a threat in the Greater South Shore Conference. But they are nowhere to be found in the Class A polls. Now like I said, the coaches poll is a better barometer, and they might think SC needs to play some better competition. Fair enough, but what about the media pool?

As a voter on that poll, I always threw a bone to one of the top local schools in a given class, maybe putting said school at No. 10 or 9 to get it a couple points (10th spot in the poll is one point, ninth is two points, and so on). I know there are at least one or two media members in Northwest Indiana who still have votes on this poll, but they’re still not giving South Central — the top Class A team in the region — even a single vote.

Maybe a win over Wheeler at home this week will get the Satellites some love.

• MICHIGAN CITY (3-2, 2-1) at Lake Central (1-4, 0-3)

Friday, 7 p.m., at Burial Grounds

Series over last 30 years: Lake Central leads 8-7

Skinny: Records galore were set in last week’s City win over Merrillville at Ames Field. Running back Daelon Wren tied the school record for touchdowns in a game (6) and set the new rushing yardage mark with 369. The previous school record was Ryan Fics with 368 against Chesterton in 2005. Also, the 56 points scored by the Wolves are their most against a Duneland Conference opponent ever. They could surpass that point total this week since LC is having a worse season than Merrillville. The Indians have lost four straight by a combined score of 182-21, including a 56-7 loss at La Porte last week.

Prediction: Michigan City 58, Lake Central 7

• La PORTE (3-2, 2-1) at Merrillville (1-4, 1-2)

Friday, 7 p.m. at Demaree Stadium

Series over last 30 years: Merrillville leads 20-10

• Skinny: After the beatdown Michigan City gave Merrillville last week, it may be angry. Then again, the Slicers are playing better in their last two games after the huge win over Lake Central last week. Running back Drayson Nespo had four rushing touchdowns, and he should be poised for another big game against a Pirates’ defense that gave up 369 yards and six TDs to Wren last week.

Prediction: La Porte 42, Merrillville 21

• South Bend Riley (3-2, 2-1) at NEW PRAIRIE (4-1, 2-0)

Friday, 6:30 p.m., at Amzie Miller Field

Series over last 30 years: New Prairie leads 3-1

Skinny: The Cougars have been rolling over opponents in a four-game winning streak, averaging 55.5 points on offense. But Riley is a different foe, winning three of four. But New Prairie has handled South Bend teams easily over the last three years and that shouldn’t change.

Prediction: New Prairie 48, South Bend Riley 20

• Wheeler (2-3, 1-2) at SOUTH CENTRAL (4-1, 3-0)

Friday, 7 p.m., at South Central Field

Series over last 30 years: Wheeler leads 9-3

Skinny: The Satellites’ offense is like a well-oiled machine during a three-game win streak, averaging 43 points in the three Greater South Shore Conference wins. This is uncharted territory for South Central as the first time ever its started 3-0 in conference play. The Bearcats have only lost to SC three times, but one of those was a 8-0 loss last year. This is a big game for the Satellites since the next two weeks are even tougher — road games at Griffith and Hanover Central.

Prediction: South Central 28, Wheeler 14

• CHESTERTON (2-3, 0-3) at Portage (3-2, 3-0)

Friday, 7 p.m. at The Warpath

Series over last 30 years: Portage leads 22-12

Skinny: These teams are having opposite years. The Trojans started 2-0, winning both of their non-conference games, but have now lost all three Duneland Conference contests. The Indians lost their non-conference games, but have started 3-0 in the DAC for the first time since 2003 when Craig Buzea was the coach and when Portage won its last sectional title. Chesterton’s last two losses were close against good teams, so there could be hope for a turnaround.

Prediction: Chesterton 21, Portage 20

• Tri-State (3-0, 1-0) at La LUMIERE (2-0, 1-0)

Saturday, 1 p.m. at La Lumiere Field

Skinny: This will be the Lakers toughest game early on this season after a pair of blowouts wins. Tri-State is 3-0 after a 48-6 win over Livingston County Homeschool last week. The Crusaders have outscored the three opponents 172-14, but LaLu has outscored two opponents 89-14. So this could be a high-scoring conference shootout.

Prediction: La Lumiere 35, Tri-State 34

Reach sports editor Steve T. Gorches at sgorches@thenewsdispatch.com or (219) 214-4206. Follow him on Twitter @SteveTGorches.

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