Week 12 Picks - 2020 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

November 2, 2020


Some time Friday afternoon the 6A start tournament gets real when third ranked Jefferson gets on the bus in Lafayette and heads for seventh-ranked Merrillville. Week 12 is sectional championship night in the 48th Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) state tournament. (Photo by Mark Smith)

Mr. Picker - WEEK (12) TWELVE:

MERRILLVILLE (11-06-2020)
Bless Mother Nature. After a brutal weather night last week (29 degrees by 9 p.m.), we get a blast from the past this week. The long range forecast is for a high of 65 degrees Friday and game time temperatures in the mid to upper 50s. If that weather forecast holds true it almost always favors the favorite. To me, temperatures in the upper 50s is perfect football weather and since we play on Friday nights instead of Saturday afternoons, a 60-degree night would be ideal for the higher ranked teams.

Who does the good weather favor? Lets start with Chesterton, led on offense by passer Chris Mullen (138 of 244, 1,821 yards). Others have more passing yards than Chesterton, but the Trojans don’t have an overwhelming running attack. The Trojans have played nine games and have passed the ball 244 times, that’s 27 passes a game. High winds and icy temperatures would handcuff Chesterton. That won't happen this Friday.

The warm weather favors Hanover Central (9-2) and QB Blaze Cano, who has completed 119 of 211 passes for 2,261 yards. That’s 19 passes a game. Hanover has running back Adam Graham (107 rushes, 898 yards) to fall back on, but a warm 60-degree night would allow Cano to do what he’s done all year.

Merrillville has QB Angel Nelson who (97 of 144 for 1,847 yards) averages 16 passes a game but the Pirates also have Lavarion Logan (181 rushes, 1,153 yards) and a big offensive line, so they’re an All-weather team.

What non-Northwest Indiana team needs good weather? I would say Jefferson, which is heading for Lake County to play Merrillville. Jeff QB Brady Preston (97 of 149, 1,340 yards) throws 15 times a game, but the Bronchos (10-0) probably prefer perfect conditions for senior halfback ‘Touchdown Tommy’ Hogan (5-10, 175) who has 1,427 yards and 25 touchdowns on just 131 carries. That’s 10.9 yards a carry and 2 ½ touchdowns a game. Broncho foes probably hope for ice storms and monsoons to slow him down.

We have reached the night of the state tournament when the old folks start handing trophies to the young folks. Friday is sectional championship night and I’ve always thought that this is the game where you satisfy expectations. There are more championships to earn after this week, but a win Friday night and your team has had a good year.

But first, a look back at Mr. Picker's Week-11 predictions, and how he did.

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-11, 2020 Football Picks
in Review: Oct. 30-31, 2020

Wrong - 3 Right - 12 = 80.0%

The Pick The Result

North Judson 49, Culver 6  

North Judson 29-12

ANDREAN 49, Whiting 0  


Rensselaer 35, Wheeler 28  

Rensselaer 34-12

Knox 28, Calumet 20  

(wrong) Calumet 38-14

Hanover Central 28, River Forest 12  


St. Joe 28, Logansport 12  

(wrong) Logansport 36-7

CMA 35, Plymouth 20  

CMA 24-14

Hobart 49, Gary West Side 0  

Hobart 70-0

LOWELL 21, Highland 7  

LOWELL 48-14

LaPorte 35, Munster 8  

LaPorte 56-9

Valparaiso 30, Michigan City 17  

Valparaiso 21-14

Penn 23, Chesterton 17  

(wrong) Chesterton 20-14

Elkhart 35, Portage 16  

Elkhart 67-33



Jefferson 56, Lake Central 12  

Jefferson 45-7

WEEK ELEVEN (in review):
All power to Calumet going for their first sectional, but I did not know that Knox was without their starting quarterback last week. I assumed Knox was 100%. Chesterton and Penn could have gone either way and I still cannot explain Logansport beating St. Joseph’s. Best pick of the week? None. None of the games I picked correctly were significant surprises.

‘Mr. Picker’ (by the week)
WEEK ONE: 6 of 9, 66.6%
WEEK TWO: 6 of 10, 60.0%
WEEK THREE: 8 of 10, 80.0%
WEEK FOUR: 9 of 9, 100%
WEEK FIVE: 7 of 10, 70%
WEEK SIX: 5 of 7, 71.4%
WEEK SEVEN: 7 of 9, 77.7%
WEEK EIGHT: 8 of 9, 88.8%
WEEK NINE: 7 of 9, 77.7%
Regular season: 63 of 82, 76.8%

WEEK TEN: 15 of 17, 88.2%

WEEK ELEVEN: 12 of 15, 80.0%

Playoffs: 27 of 32, 84.3%
Total (overall): 91 of 114, 79.8%

'Mr. Picker' (15 Years)
2019 (final) OVERALL: 126 of 166 = 75.9%
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 2020 WEEK (12) TWELVE:

Class 1A Sectional 41

Winamac (6-2) at North Judson (9-2):

NORTH JUDSON (11-06-2020)
North Judson eliminated Winamac 16-0 last November and they (Judson) blanked the Warriors 29-0 this September. Find me a reason that Winamac wins Friday night. Well, the Warriors have won five games in a row. Did they beat anybody with a winning record? Well, no. But five wins is five wins. Does that mean they reverse a 29-0 victory from nine weeks ago?
Well, no.
North Judson 28, Winamac 14

Class 1A Sectional 42

Madison-Grant (3-5) at South Adams (10-0):

BERNE (11-06-2020)
On paper, this looks like a very unfortunate matchup. The Madison-Grant Argylls (I’d love to know the story behind that nickname) lost 47-20 to South Adams in the Sectional 42 championship game last year. No one has scored more than 14 points in any game against the South Adams Starfires (not a bad nickname either) all this year. South Adams was 12-1 last year. Madison-Grant? Well, M-G did upset Tri-Central (7-4) last week 28-12 in the sectional semifinals and I can't explain that. Madison-Grant lost to Elwood 51-43 and that was Elwood’s only win of the season. There is almost no chance that South Adams loses this game.

South Adams 42, Madison-Grant 14

Class 2A Sectional 33

Rensselaer (6-4) at ANDREAN (9-1):

MERRILLVILLE (11-06-2020)
Class 2A Rensselaer has played larger schools like 3A West Lafayette (8-2) and 4A Western (8-2), but 2A Andrean has played larger schools like 4A Hobart (8-2), 4A Lowell (9-1) and 6A Merrillville (8-1). I doubt the Bombers can stop Andrean on a ‘warm’ November night, but can they keep that offense on the sideline by running the ball? The Bombers have scored at least five touchdowns seven times this year and the West Lafayette loss was 27-21 in two overtimes, a virtual tie game. Rensselaer has run for 3,107 yards in 10 games. Junior Dylan Kidd (5-9, 190) has run 202 times for 1,320 yards and 23 TDs. But when the 59ers bunch three receivers on one side of the field andput all-state wide receiver Nic Flesher on the other side and 1,000-yard rusher Ryan Walsh in the backfield, what do you do? Andrean won this game 44-34 last year and that’s about the same type of game I see this time, too.

Andrean 31, Rensselaer 20

Class 2A Sectional 34

Pioneer (9-1) at Bremen (8-2):

BREMEN (11-06-2020)
The Pioneer Panthers have some quick little running backs who push you sideline to sideline all night. Ezra Lewellen (5-7, 150) and Brock Robinson (5-7, 150) have both run for 1,000 yards. Bremen uses big Blake Dingus (6-4, 215) who has eight 100-yard games and 1,500 yards rushing this year. The Braves lost only to Marian (9-0) and Jimtown (7-3). Pioneer lost 32-28 to New Haven (5-5). Pioneer is the greatest Indiana small school football program in the last 20 years. Since the start of the 2001 season, the Panthers have won 218 games and lost just 32 times. Bremen, at home, is a hard hill to climb.

Pioneer 21, Bremen 20

Class 3A Sectional 25

Calumet (3-1) at HANOVER CENTRAL (8-2)

CEDAR LAKE (11-06-2020)
Hanover averages 44 points a game and only Griffith has held the Wildcats under 35 points in any game. Hanover has won their last four games, all on the road. But Calumet has won their last three games on the road, all by three touchdowns or more. Neither school has ever won a sectional title, so this will be a very big night for one or the other. I think Calumet is the better team, but I’m going with Hanover because the weather is good and they are at home.

HANOVER 28, Calumet 21

Class 3A Sectional 26

(Mishawaka) Marian (9-0) at Jimtown (7-3):

ELKHART (11-06-2020)
The Marian Knights beat Jimtown 14-13 in the Sectional 26 championship game one year ago, but this one isn’t that close. Jimtown has held six teams to 10 points or less, but they have three losses - all to teams that are .500 or worse and there may be some non-football reasons for that. Marian is 21-2 in the last two years and they have wins over Class 6A Penn, Class 5A Mishawaka and Class 4A New Prairie. Marian has won four sectionals in a row. Friday will be the Knights' night for the fifth straight time.

Marian 27, Jimtown 7

Class 4A Sectional 17

LOWELL (9-1) at Hobart (8-2):

HOBART (11-06-2020)
On November 8, 2019 Hobart beat Lowell 20-0 to win the Sectional 17 championship. Lowell had won Sectional 17 five years (2014-2018) in a row. On November 6, 2020 Lowell goes back to Hobart to try to get ‘their’ sectional title back. This is an old school matchup. Lowell has won 15 sectionals in the last 30 years. Hobart was won 21 sectionals in the last 40 years. This year? The Brickies have won five in a row and Hobart has shut out their last three opponents. Hobart’s defense has 10 shutouts in the last two years and the Brickies have nine defensive starters back from the 2019 team. Can Lowell even score at Hobart? Give me some little time here.

Check back Thursday for the pick.

Class 4A Sectional 18

CMA (5-5) at Logansport (5-6):

LOGANSPORT (11-06-2020)
CMA has looked good the last two weeks taking down Kankakee Valley and Plymouth. The Eagles have won four of their last five after a 4-game losing streak. Logansport hasn’t beaten anyone with a winning record, but the Berries (why is Logansport is ‘the Berries’? ) have also won four of their last five. To me, the ‘Academy’ is the surprise of the state tourney so far in these parts. CMA defeating Tippecanoe Valley (7-4) and Kankakee Valley (5-4) suggests they are the better team here.

CMA 28, Logansport 21

Class 5A Sectional 9

Valparaiso (6-0) at LaPorte (4-6):

LaPORTE (11-06-2020)
Rematch of a mismatch here. Valpo won the earlier meeting 37-7 nine weeks ago and that game was 30-0 at the half. LaPorte has won four of their last six games. They need to run the ball and shorten the game Friday, but the big green team is hard to run on. The Valpo senior class is 29-4 in the last three years and they have beaten LaPorte four times: 38-8, 35-0, 45-0 and 37-7. I’m not sure how this game gets much closer than those scores. The Slicers have played well lately, but this was not a good matchup in September and it is not a good matchup in November.

Valparaiso 30, LaPorte 7

Class 5A Sectional 10

Mishawaka (6-3) at Adams (4-5):

SOUTH BEND (11-06-2020)
Adams hasn’t played in the state tournament, so they get a one-night home field chance to win a sectional. But Mishawaka, which laid the smack down on Goshen 45-6 last week with 250 yards rushing, has won six games in a row. It's been a rough football year for South Bend city schools and Adams is the last man standing. Mishawaka has lost only to Marian (9-0), Elkhart (8-0) and Warsaw (8-2). Mishawaka can start planning for Valparaiso. This game won't be close in the second half.

Mishawaka 38, Adams 14

Class 6A Sectional 1

Jefferson (10-0) at MERRILLVILLE (8-1):

MERRILLVILLE (11-06-2020)
The biggest matchup in this part of the state sends Class 6A No. 3 Jefferson to No. 7 Merrillville for the second year in a row. The purple Pirates have not been held under 28 points all season. Merrillville is 19-3 in the last two years. But Jefferson averages 52 points a game and they are 19-1 in the last two years. This is a rematch of last year’s Sectional 1 semifinal won by Merrillville 27-20. This game has the feel of a regional final or a semistate. Two teams from different parts of the state who have dominated the ‘locals’ all year, find out if they are as good as their record says they are. On a warm November night, this one seems high-scoring and close, but the home team wins again.

MERRILLVILLE 41, Jefferson 33

Class 6A Sectional 2

Chesterton (4-4) at Elkhart (8-0):

ELKHART (11-06-2020)
Elkhart’s offense is led by ‘Dangerous Derek’ Woods (5-10, 180), a halfback who has scored 26 rushing touchdowns in eight games. Last Friday against Portage, Woods ran the ball 32 times for 397 yards and eight touchdowns. I’m serious. Chesterton can score and the only teams the Trojans have lost to (Merrillville, Pioneer, Hobart and Valparaiso) are Top-10 ranked teams. But No. 5 Elkhart is a Top-10 team, too. Chesterton is going for their first sectional championship in the 48-year history of the IHSAA state tournament. Elkhart is a first-year consolidation of former schools Elkhart Memorial and Elkhart Central. So obviously, the Lions are also going for their first sectional title. This is too ‘dangerous’ a matchup for Chesterton.

Elkhart 41, Chesterton 28

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