Week 12 Picks - 2019 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

November 8, 2019

Is a sectional football championship finally coming home to Calumet high school? We'll know Friday when the Warriors (9-1) host Knox (10-1) in the Class 3A Sectional 25 final. (Photo by Mark Smith)


Mr. Picker - WEEK (12) TWELVE:

VALPARAISO (11-08-2019)
The average daily temperature for this time of year is 45-50 degrees. We are not getting our daily average of warmth. The last couple of weeks have been unusually cold and that’s an understatement for what's coming. Weather predictors seem to agree that winter has arrived early.

It's going to be 30-40 every day this week and night time football will only be for the hardy boys. Coaches and players say that the cold doesn’t matter or that "it's the same for both teams,” but that’s what they have to say. Coaches don't want their boys thinking about the cold at all because, in theory, it takes their thoughts away from assignments. But after watching the boys play for 1,000 years, here’s how I believe the cold we’ve had this month most affects football at the high school level.

1.) Kicking the ball.

This is the most obvious. In sub-freezing weather, kicking the football is like kicking a frozen turkey. The old bird just isn't going to fly very far. You can't kickoff into the end zone on the fly and you aren't going to make that 50-yard field goal you made one time in practice back in August.

2.) Catching the ball.

You’re probably wearing gloves if it's below freezing and the ball coming towards you has that frosty feel. The quarterback, who handles the ball on every play, can throw it almost as well when it's super cold. But for receivers, that ball has some zip on it and it zips and slips through your hands faster than it did in September. And all the parents in the stands try not to hate you because you keep dropping the passes.

3.) Snapping the ball.

When your hands are freezing, it's hard for your center to hike the ball back to the QB, punter or placekicker as well as he did at the scrimmage in August. Snapping the ball seems to be a ‘feel’ skill. You know just how hard you have to push it. When its 28 degrees, you lose some feel in your hands and you push the ball along the ground or over somebody’s head.

4. Handling the ball.

Lots of offenses involve some ‘read option’ where the decision on who to hand the ball off is to a post-snap decision. The quick handling of a super cold ball with frostbite fingers either leads to fumbles or forces the ball handler to slow his handoff. Bottom line: No matter what the old folks at the convenience store tell you, 30-40 degrees is NOT football weather. Do the best you can and we’ll all try to understand.

Okay, we are at the point where we’re playing for trophies. There are several rematches from the regular season in the sectional championship games and it's all on the line. When you start practice in August, this is the night you are building towards.

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

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-11, 2019 Football Picks in Review:
Nov. 1-2, 2019

Wrong - 3; Right - 11 = 82.7%

The Pick The Result

Rensselaer 35, North Newton 14  

Rensselaer 35-6

Andrean 35, Boone Grove 14  

Andrean 27-0

Twin Lakes 28, Knox 20  

(wrong) Knox 36-7

Calumet 34, River Forest 14  

Calumet 32-13

New Prairie 28, CMA 21  

New Prairie 49-3

Plymouth 28, St. Joe 21  

Plymouth 28-12

Hobart 31, Highland 7  

Hobart 35-0

LOWELL 28, Griffith 14  

LOWELL 55-20

Michigan City 20, LaPorte 13  

(wrong) LaPorte 14-10

Valparaiso 42, Munster 0  

Valpo 69-6

Penn 35, Portage 14  

Penn 13-6

Warsaw 35, Chesterton 28  

Warsaw 35-28

Jefferson 42, Merrillville 21  

(wrong) Merrillville 27-20

CROWN POINT 17, Lake Central 7  


‘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%

WEEK ELEVEN: 11 OF 14, 82.7%
SEASON TOTAL: 97 of 128, 75.7%

ANALYSIS: Knox and Twin Lakes was just an uneducated guess, but I’ve seen LaPorte and Michigan City play and I didn't see the Slicers beating MC. That’s a rivalry upset.

Merrillville played better than I thought they would and I didn't know that Jeff would lose their quarterback at the end of the second quarter. But even had the Pirates lost a close game to Jeff, that would have been better than I thought Merrillville would do. To be honest, if Jeff played Merrillville again at full strength, I’d still pick Jefferson.

But I want credit for that Chesterton-Warsaw pick. I don't get many exact scores. Very close on Calumet-River Forest, too.

'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 (12) TWELVE:

Here’s what’s going to happen.

(2A) Rensselaer (9-2) at Andrean (8-3):

MERRILLVILLE (11-08-2019)
Sometimes the teams that meet in the sectional championship game are the teams that aren't supposed to meet in the sectional championship game. Andrean has won their last six. Rensselaer has won their last five. But I don't think the 59ers are really a Class 2A team. They will be too strong for Rensselaer.

Andrean 27, Rensselaer 14

(2A) LaVille (9-2) at Lewis Cass (10-1):

WALTON (11-08-2019)
LaVille has allowed just 12 points a game, but they aren't ready for this. Cass just ran all over Pioneer (8-2) in the sectional quarterfinals and LaVille has defeated two sub-.500 teams to get to this night. One year ago, Cass lost the 2A Sectional 34 championship game 27-25 to Eastbrook. Two years ago, Cass lost the sectional championship game 28-7 to Eastbrook. Eastbrook is playing for a sectional title Friday, but it's Sectional 36 after an IHSAA realignment last year. It’s time for 2A No. 1 Cass to be Kings.

Lewis Cass 28, LaVille 7

(3A) Knox (10-1) at Calumet (9-1):

GARY (11-08-2019)
This one is so hard to figure. Except for two wins over River Forest (6-5), Calumet had lost to the only other winning team they’ve played. But Knox has played five tiny Class 1A schools. The Redskins do have wins over 2A LaVille (9-2) and 1A Culver (7-4), but I don't think Knox has played a school larger than they are. I like the home team.

Calumet 27, Knox 20

(3A) Jimtown (7-4) at Marian (10-1):

MISHAWAKA (11-08-2019)
Class 3A No. 4 Marian has lost only to 5A Mishawaka and the Knights won 17-3 at Jimtown in September. Jimtown has had a good year. Defensively, they’ve held eight teams to 17 points or less. But Marian is a solid team with a balanced attack and a defense that has allowed just 72 total points all year.

Marian 21, Jimtown 7

(4A) Plymouth (9-2) at New Prairie (10-1):

NEW CARLISLE (11-08-2019)
This is the surest bet of the week. Plymouth QB Joe Barron is 202 of 353 for 2,905 yards, that’s 31 passes a game. New Prairie QB Chris Ketterer has run 237 times for 2,049 yards. The Cougars have run the ball 495 times; that’s 45 times a game. New Prairie has only thrown 57 passes all season. Would you rather be the running or the passing team on a night below freezing in NW Indiana?

New Prairie 35, Plymouth 21

(4A) LOWELL (7-4) at Hobart (9-2):

HOBART (11-08-2019)
Just three weeks ago, Hobart beat Lowell 38-7. The Brickies' defense has allowed only 117 points in 11 games. This will be Lowell’s eighth road game of the season and they are just 4-3. Is it possible for a team to lose by 31 in week nine and come back and beat that same team in week 12? Let me think about that one.

Check back on these pages Thursday for a final pick.

(5A) Valparaiso (10-0) at LaPorte (3-7):

LaPORTE (11-08-2019)
LaPorte has improved as the season has gone on. At one time, they were 0-4. Now they have split their last six games. The Slicers are a run-dominated team, which should serve them well on a very cold night. But 5A No. 2 Valparaiso has paid the cost to be the boss. They are the dominant team in this part of the state. And the question still stands. If a team beat you 35-0 in September, is it possible for you to turn around and beat them nine weeks later? Next question.

Valparaiso 35, LaPorte 0

(5A) Mishawaka (7-3) at Elkhart Central (9-2):

ELKHART (11-08-2019)
Great drama here. The Cavemen beat Elkhart Central 22-17 in September, but Elkhart Central consolidates with Elkhart Memorial after this school year. Every game for EC could be their last. Forever. Central has lost 21-19 to Penn and 22-17 to Mishawaka. Mishawaka runs the ball 95% of the time. I don't think they've thrown 50 passes all year. EC’s 215-pound halfback Mark Brownlee has run 226 times for 1,885 yards. On their home field against a longtime rival. In what could be the final home game in school history. Do the Blue Blazers live to play one more week? I think they do.

Elkhart Central 28, Mishawaka 20

(6A) Merrillville (9-1) at CROWN POINT (6-5):

CROWN POINT (11-08-2019)
In the northwest corner in recent years it always comes down to this. For the fourth year in a row, CP meets Merrillville in 6A Sectional 1. Merrillville just turned back 6A No. 2 Jefferson 27-20. But Crown Point has eliminated the Pirates from sectional play in each of the last three seasons. Like Lowell-Hobart. Like Elkhart Central-Mishawaka. The word ‘rivalry’ may be mentioned many times this week. Let me warm up from last Friday.

Give me a few days to pick this game.

(6A) Penn (6-4) at Warsaw (8-2):

WARSAW (11-08-2019)
Like Chesterton and Calumet, Warsaw has never won a varsity football sectional championship. On the home field, the Tigers, a basketball powerhouse, have a chance to right a long time gridiron ‘wrong’. But to do so Warsaw will have to stop a Penn team that is going for their 25th sectional championship in 47 years of the state tournament. Who wins? They’ll have the ‘Eye of the Tiger.’

Warsaw 21, Penn 14

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Revised: November 04, 2019 .