(Last week's rankings in parentheses; NR = not rated)
1. Hobart (2) 4-0
Friday is finally here for the Brickies. Hobart players appeared to be already focusing on the Andrean matchup a few moments after a blowout win over E.C. Central. “Andrean’s coming in. They beat New Prairie last week and they’re coming on our homecoming,” Hobart senior running back Sal Valle said after the win over the Cardinals. “They’re our biggest rival.” Thus, Friday's game will be about bragging rights — and taking the top spot in the Northwest Crossroads Conference race.
2. Whiting (3) 4-0
The Oilers must maintain their focus Friday. Lake Station is winless and has been outscored 224-33 this season, which includes three loss by at least 60 points. Nino Barbosa might have a chance to improve on his numbers from last week's 44-7 win over Wheeler. All Barbosa did was return punts of 67 and 47 yards for touchdowns, catch three passes for 29 yards, including a touchdown, and intercept a pass inside the 5-yard line. He also booted four PATs. “It’s fun. The kid has a ton of talent, and he’s living up to his potential right now," Whiting coach Jeff Cain said after the Wheeler win.
3. Lowell (5) 3-1
The Red Devils and Friday's opponent, Kankakee Valley, are coming off back-to-back wins. Lowell has outscored its last two opponents 89-0. Tyler Wildman has totaled 379 yards and four touchdowns on the ground this season, and he might be expected to carry the load against the Kougars.
4. Boone Grove (6) 3-1
Brae'ton Vann keeps on rolling. He's rushed 38 times for 684 yards and 11 touchdowns. After a 63-0 rout of Greater South Shore Conference foe Lake Station, things should get much tougher Friday against Hanover Central. After a Week 2 loss to Andrean, the Wildcats have won two straight games.
5. Merrillville (8) 3-1
The Pirates might have surprised Region fans last week after a 39-0 rout of Duneland Athletic Conference opponent Portage. Quarterback Aahric Whitehead is 38 of 61 passing for 618 yards and eight scores this season. Whitehead threw two touchdown passes against the Indians. Merrillville totaled 412 yards of offense against Portage. The Pirates are also tied for first in the DAC with Valparaiso. Another test awaits, as Merrillville hosts Michigan City on Friday.
6. Andrean (9) 3-1
The 59ers have turned their season around after a Week 1 loss to Merrillville. They also received some bulletin board material after Hobart's win over E.C. Central when some social media content emerged. This could be the biggest game this season in the Northwest Crossroads Conference.
7. Valparaiso (NR) 2-2
The Vikings certainly didn't give up after two losses to begin the season. Last week's win over Michigan City let DAC teams know that the Vikings are still for real. Valparaiso and Merrillville are the two lone unbeaten teams remaining in the league. The Vikings cannot rest on their laurels with Porter County rival Chesterton on the slate Friday.
8. Michigan City (1) 2-2
The season continues to stiffen for the Wolves with a road test against the Pirates. Michigan City's high-powered offense was stymied a week ago. It must return to form for Michigan City to be competitive against Merrillville.
9. Portage (4) 2-2
Many Indians fans probably didn't see Portage's Week 2 win at Lowell, but they probably didn't see last week's rout coming, either. Portage compiled 61 yards last week in the loss to Merrillville. Crown Point shut down Lake Central last week in a 21-3 win, so Portage's offense must find a way to turn things around this week against the Bulldogs.
10. Hanover Central (NR) 3-1
Boone Grove's Brae'ton Vann will definitely be the focus for the Wildcats' defense Friday. On the other side of the ball, Tyler Frueling could be the key to Hanover Central's success. The Wildcats quarterback had 143 yards rushing with two touchdowns in last week's win over River Forest.
On the bubble: Calumet (3-1); Crown Point (2-2); E.C. Central (2-2); Griffith (2-2); Highland (2-2); Kankakee Valley (2-2); Lake Central (2-2); Morton (2-2).