Week 11 Picks - 2019 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

October 28, 2019

When you signed up for football it was 85 degrees and sunny. Okay, it won't be warm and sunny this Friday night but this is where every team wants to be. Playing a sectional semifinal in the 47th Indiana state tournament. (Photo by Mark Smith)


Mr. Picker - WEEK (11) ELEVEN:

VALPARAISO (11-01-2019)
They call it the second season, in small part, because it's almost as long as the first one. In no other sport is the post-season 2/3 as long as the regular season. Week eleven gets us to November and teams are really feeling how long a season it's been.

Assuming that your school played the final freshman and junior varsity games the week after the regular season week nine finale, any help your side might get from the younger teams might be a factor in week 11. Many teams have sophomores who have been playing all season but it's so hard for a freshman to play even a few minutes in a post-season game against 18-year-old seniors. Good freshmen are not asked to contribute on the varsity during the regular season even if they have the ability to do so.

For schools that don't get a bye week (1A, 2A, 3A and 4A), even ones who want to have ‘two platoon’ (different players on offense and defense) squads, I look for which boys are playing offense and defense. In warm weather, it's very difficult for a lot of players to play both offense and defense. But when it gets colder and the games mean more, you might see a half dozen boys on both sides of the ball.

Just from watching, you can see how hard it is to use a lot of two-way players for three or four consecutive weeks. It wears on the boys. But seniors especially, want to be out there every play from scrimmage.

It's interesting to watch for a new face filling in on a surviving playoff team and for boys doing double duty. The weather for this Friday is supposed to be bold and cold with windy 35-degree conditions. It will have an effect on the games.

Now, let's recap last week's results for 'Mr. Picker.'

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-10, 2019 Football Picks in Review:
Oct. 25-26, 2019

Wrong - 2; Right - 13 = 86.6%

The Pick The Result

Rensselaer 30, Wheeler 16  

Rensselaer 48-6

Boone Grove 35, Whiting 0  

Boone Grove 44-7

Andrean 42, Bowman 7  

Andrean 41-0

Hanover Central 28, Twin Lakes 26  

(wrong) Twin Lakes 63-35

Knox 35, Clark 0  

Knox 56-0

Calumet 49, Hammond 0  

Calumet 63-0

Benton Central 20, River Forest 14  

(wrong) River Forest 57-26

New Prairie 35, Riley 14  

New Prairie 56-13

CMA 49, Clay 0  

CMA 44-0

St. Joe 34, Logansport 21  

St. Joe 56-13

Plymouth 35, KV 20  

Plymouth 54-28

Griffith 33, Gavit 12  

Griffith 47-13

LOWELL 31, Gary West Side 14  


Highland 28, East Chicago 21  

Highland 24-21

Hobart 31, Morton 21  

Hobart 42-21

‘Mr. Picker’ (by the week)
WEEK ONE: 9 of 15, 60.0%
WEEK TWO: 8 of 12, 66.7%
WEEK THREE: 6 of 12, 50.0%
WEEK FOUR: 10 of 10, 100.0%
WEEK FIVE: 8 of 10, 80.0%
WEEK SIX: 5 OF 10, 50%
WEEK SEVEN: 9 OF 10, 90%
WEEK EIGHT: 9 OF 10, 90%
WEEK NINE: 9 OF 10, 90%
State Tournament
WEEK TEN: 13 OF 15, 86.6%

SEASON TOTAL: 86 of 114, 75.4%

ANALYSIS: Why didn't I have more faith in River Forest? Why did I have so much faith in Hanover Central? Two questions that kept me from a perfect 15-0 week. 13 of 15 is very good, but in the interest of full disclosure, when the playoffs begin and I have to pick every game and not just 'selected' games, the correct ratio is going to rise. Andrean vs. Bowman and Boone vs. Whiting are not games I would pick during the regular season.

But you know the rules. In the postseason, if you pick one game in a sectional, you must pick them all. I didn't make the rules. (Okay, maybe I did.)

This week, the sectional semifinal week, is typically the easiest round of the playoffs. Feel free to pick along with me. This week should be (famous last words) so easy.

'Mr. Picker' (13 Years)
2018 (final) OVERALL: 148 of 191 = 77.4%
2017 (final) OVERALL: 137 of 184 = 74.4%
2016 (final) OVERALL: 119 of 170 = 70.0%
2015 (final) OVERALL: 131 of 174 = 75.2%
2014 (final) OVERALL: 131 of 176 = 74.4%
2013 (final) OVERALL: 130 of 175 = 74.2%
2012 (final) OVERALL: 137 of 177 = 77.4%
2011 (final) OVERALL: 134 of 184 = 72.7%
2010 (final) OVERALL: 135 of 184 = 73.3%
2009 (final) OVERALL: 154 of 212 = 72.6%
2008 (final) OVERALL: 145 of 193 = 75.1%
2007 (final) OVERALL: 143 of 188 = 76.0%
2006 (final) OVERALL: 166 of 217 = 76.4%
2005 (final) OVERALL: 170 of 233 = 72.9%

Mr. Picker 2019 WEEK (11) ELEVEN:

Here’s what’s going to happen.

Class 2A Sectional 33

North Newton (7-2) at Rensselaer (8-2):

RENSSELAER (11-01-2019)
We’ll run into this several times this week. These two teams have met and it wasn't close. Rensselaer defeated North Newton 40-15 on August 30 in Newton County. To analyze this game you must allow for, not just the possibility but the probability, that the Spartans can make up that 25-point deficit nine week later. Senior Noah Bierma (150 carries, 987 yards) and juniors Addison Wilmington (125 carries, 908 yards) and Kelton Hesson (61 carries, 529 yards) lead the infantry that North Newton won't be able to stop.

Rensselaer 35, North Newton 14

Boone Grove (10-0) at Andrean (7-3):

MERRILLVILLE (11-01-2019)
This is something else we’ll run into several times in the next two weeks. Andrean has played a very difficult schedule and they’ve lost three times to powerhouses Hobart (8-2), New Prairie (9-1) and Merrillville (9-1). Boone Grove has faced one of the state’s weakest schedules and they are undefeated. Halfback Braeton Vann has led Boone with 145 caries, for 1,425 yards. He’s scored 32 touchdowns. But Andrean defenders have faced players like that.

Andrean 35, Boone Grove 14

Class 3A Sectional 25

Twin Lakes (4-6) at Knox (9-1):

KNOX (11-01-2019)
This is another game where the schedule matters. Knox has not faced any winning team other than Pioneer (8-2). I know they scored 56 on Clark, but Clark lost their last five in a row. Twin Lakes has played powers like West Lafayette (8-2), Rensselaer (8-2) and Lafayette Catholic (7-3). I like an upset here.

Twin Lakes 28, Knox 20

Calumet (8-1) at River Forest (6-4):

HOBART TOWNSHIP (11-01-2019)
Here’s another rematch and Calumet won 44-0 at River Forest on October 11. Calumet is one of the few teams that has never won a sectional championship and they are the better team. Six wins is the most for RF since 2011, but they can't win this one. It's a law of nature. Teams that lose to you by six touchdowns early in the year, can't turn around and beat you later on in the same year.

Calumet 34, River Forest 14.

Class 4A Sectional 18

Culver Military Academy (6-4) at New Prairie (9-1):

NEW CARLISLE (11-01-2019)
The ‘Academy’ plays a rough riders schedule including Harrison (7-2), Brebuef (7-3), Hobart (8-2), and Marian (9-1) so CMA won't be intimidated going to the little house on the ‘Prairie’. The Cougars have rushed for almost 3,600 yards in 10 games and they are undefeated at home. On what should be a bad weather night, the run should be more fun.

New Prairie 28, CMA 21

(South Bend) St Joseph’s (2-8) at Plymouth (8-2):

PLYMOUTH (11-01-2019)
Plymouth is the better team, but they throw the ball 25-30 times a game. Can you do that on ‘certain nights’ in NW Indiana in November? Early Friday forecast: A ‘certain night’ Temperatures in the mid-30s with 15-20 MPH winds. St. Joe has come alive on offense in the last two weeks, scoring 42 and 56 points. Admittedly, those two games were against Adams (0-10) and Logansport (2-8).
Plymouth 28, St. Joe 21

Class 4A Sectional 17

Highland (4-6) at Hobart (8-2):

HOBART (11-01-2019)
Here’s another rematch. Hobart beat Highland 35-0 on October 4. Highland came from behind multiple times to beat East Chicago 24-21 last week, while Hobart laid the smack down on Morton 42-21. The Brickies have outscored the last six opponents they have faced by a combined score of 272-48. Really? Remember the rule: A team that lost to you by 5 TDs cannot beat you later on in the same season. It's just not happening.

Hobart 31, Highland 7

LOWELL (6-4) at Griffith (3-7)

GRIFFITH (11-01-2019)
The earlier meeting was not a blowout. Griffith led 21-14 before losing 42-28. Lowell is not 100% at running back, but they went down the depth chart and found ‘Little Joe’ Heuer (5-6, 175), who scored four TDs against Gary West Side last week. But after an 0-7 start, the Panthers have won three in a row with veteran QB Carson Crowe leading the way. To be fair, those wins have come against Whiting (2-8), Gavit (3-7) and Wheeler (4-6). But Lowell-Griffith is a rivalry that goes back to before World War II. Who wins ‘The Big One’ this time? Give me a couple of days on this one.

Check back on Thursday.

Class 5A Sectional 9

LaPorte (2-7) at Michigan City (4-5):

MICHIGAN CITY (11-01-2019)
The battle for LaPorte County. Watch this one. Michigan City started sophomore QB Giovanni Laurent in week nine and he was 23 of 43 passing at Crown Point. LaPorte hasn't thrown 43 passes all year, but if the weather is bad, neither side will be able to throw. Michigan City beat LaPorte 7-3 on October 11 so this will be close. But take MC again.

Michigan City 20, LaPorte 13

Munster (0-9) at Valparaiso (9-0):

VALPARAISO (11-01-2019)
Here's my idea. Cut each class down to 32 teams. Give everyone a bye in the 10th week of the season. Leave out all 0-9 teams, all 1-8 teams and some 2-7 teams.
That would be a better playoff format than what we have here and you would never have 0-9 teams playing 9-0 teams. There’s no reason for it. You know what the Munster forecast is for Friday night? Cold and Pain.

Valparaiso 42, Munster 0

Class 6A Sectional 2

Portage (1-8) at Penn (5-4)

OSCEOLA (11-01-2019)
It's been a tough year for Penn playing without starting QB Ron Pawlus most of the season. But they’ll get no sympathy from Portage, which has lost seven in a row. Portage scored 83 points in their first three games (27.3) this season and and just 51 points (8.5) in their last six games. I do not know why. The Indians seem better than that. It's hard to go to Penn and win under any circumstances.

Penn 35, Portage 14

Warsaw (7-2) at Chesterton (6-3):

CHESTERTON (11-01-2019)
Warsaw runs a version of the option running attack that New Prairie and Mishawaka do. Why? How? Because coach Bart Curtis, formerly at New Prairie and Mishawaka, is now at Warsaw. Chesterton, another school that has never won a football sectional title, has the top passer in the DAC in Chris Mullen. But it will be chilly in Chesterton Friday. In 35 degree weather, who’s to know who can throw? If I had to bet on it, I’d take the Tigers.

Warsaw 35, Chesterton 28

Class 6A Sectional 1

Lake Central (3-6) at CROWN POINT (5-4):

CROWN POINT (11-01-2019)
One thing I guarantee. Both these teams will play much better than they did in CP’s 10-0 win at LC in September. That game set football back 20 years. Crown Point won four of their last six, losing only to Valparaiso (9-0) and Chesterton (6-3). LC lost their last three in a row, but that's misleading. The losses were to Chesterton (6-3), Merrillville (8-1) and Valparaiso (9-0). LC can run the ball and on a cold-hearted night. That might be enough against the pass-friendly Bulldogs. I’m really not sure about this one.

Check back here on Thursday.

Jefferson (9-0) at Merrillville (8-1):

MERRILLVILLE (11-01-2019)
The feature game of the night sends unstoppable Jefferson, averaging 55 points a game, to mighty Merrillville, which has lost only 29-28 to undefeated Valparaiso (9-0). Jeff (8-1) is fueled by halfback Marquies Munoz (5-10, 195) and junior quarterback Max Grimes (6-2, 205), who is 104 of 158 for 1,811 yards and 18 TDs. Munoz has run 131 times for 1,206 yards and 24 TDs. The Pirates' defense has allowed just 14 points a game and they have sacked the quarterback 30 times. This game breaks big one way or the other. Jeff scored 74 points on 3A No. 5 West Lafayette (8-2). That’s not a misprint. 74 points. Merrillville can't stop them all night.

Jefferson 42, Merrillville 21

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Revised: October 27, 2019 .