Oh, what a ride it's been.

Here's a quick emptying of my Region football notepad for the 2017 season. The best and the worst from my humble chair.

The best and the worst in one: The surprise team in the 2-1-9 was the Valparaiso Vikings. When they upset Penn 12-7 in Week 1, it shocked much of the state.

It put a new shine on Orville Redenbacher's green tie. Valpo won the Duneland Athletic Conference championship with its lone loss coming at Crown Point. Then, all hell broke lose at the seat of Porter County.

Head coach Dave Coyle either resigned or was asked to the week of the sectional rematch with Penn. Chaos surrounded a talented group of young men. They lost to the Kingsmen 13-0, but most certainly could've won that game.

Penn, of course, went on to show up in the Class 6A state championship game.

I am still aghast at how and why this happened. It shouldn't have. At all.

The best play: This goes to outgoing River Forest coach Austen Robison, who asked his girlfriend, Kristina White, to marry him after the Ingots' 14-8 win over Lake Station. It was on the Ingots field with the players forming a heart as the two spoke to each other in eternal tones.

And, most importantly, she said "Yes!"

The worst play: Thinking that someone can do a better job than Robison at River Forest. Really? Someone in power should've found a way to keep him.

The best turnaround: This goes to Gary. After an awful civic season in 2016, Bowman Academy (6-3) and Roosevelt (7-3) really came to play this autumn. Nothing but pride should be felt by all those associated with these kids and coaches.

My Top 10 for 2018: I know we're just ending this prep football season, but I'm going to throw a dart at the wall and let you know what I'm thinking about next season.

So here is my Pre-Preseason Top 10: 1. Valparaiso, 2. Michigan City, 3. Crown Point, 4. Hobart, 5. Morton, 6. Lowell, 7. Andrean, 8. LaPorte, 9. Griffith, 10. Munster. And since we're a month away from New Year's Eve, I won't have any teams on "The Bubble." That can wait.

The best season: Who else? RDP. Even though the loss at Lucas Oil Stadium to East Central still stings a bit, keep your heads high, Red Devils. It was fun to watch an entire community embrace your efforts and desire.

Hearing "RDP" all fall long, at a very loud volume, let this old baller see what you guys meant to your town. And that's something no one can ever take away.

Best season II or Which Wolves?: Both Boone Grove and Michigan City had wonderful campaigns. Boone won eight games and advanced to the program's first sectional championship game under first-year coach Dan Kukulski, while City got to its first semistate game in forever under Phil Mason.

This season was a lot of fun. For all you seniors out there, thank you for thrilling us the last four years with your play. For the underclassmen, time to hit the weight room and start getting ready for next fall's fun. Can hardly wait.

God willing, we will all be here to take it all in.

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This column solely represents the writer’s opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.


Sports reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.