Week 13 Picks - 2019 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

November 11, 2019

Jeremiah Howard (19) and Merrillville host Warsaw Friday in one of three regional championship games to be played in Northwest Indiana. (Photo by Mark Smith)


Mr. Picker - WEEK (13) THIRTEEN:

VALPARAISO (11-15-2019)
I’ve always thought that the regional championship level is unpredictable because most teams are stepping out of their area for the first time this season. This is also the week where the relative strength of a particular area becomes obvious.

In Northwest Indiana, we assume that Merrillville and Valparaiso, the top two teams, are superior to Warsaw and Mishawaka, the two teams they face this week. But there isn't much on paper to prove it. The only time Merrillville took on a foe outside NW Indiana was when they beat Jefferson. That doesn't speak to the relative strength of Warsaw, which has defeated Merrillville’s league foes Michigan City and Chesterton.

There’s no common opponents involving 2A regional foes Andrean and Lewis Cass. The assumption is that a private school with big time tradition and a superior schedule will take down Lewis Cass, a team that has dominated all foes their size.

I do like this level of the tournament because its a master class for where schools are. Real quick. Without looking it up. When Eastside plays at Eastbrook this Friday, do you know where that game will be played? And East Noble at Mississinewa is in Gas City. I didn't know. Now, I know.

Usually you get questions in week 12 or 13 along the lines of: How many local teams have at least a 50-50 chance to win a state championship. Check with me next Monday. This is the weekend where you find out.

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

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-12, 2019 Football Picks in Review:
Nov. 8-9, 2019

Wrong - 2; Right - 8 = 80.0%

The Pick The Result

Andrean 27, Rensselaer 14  

Andrean 44-34

Lewis Cass 28, LaVille 7  

Cass 56-21

Calumet 27, Knox 20  

(wrong) Knox 19-12 (OT)

Marian 21, Jimtown 7  

Marian 14-13

New Prairie 35, Plymouth 21  

New Prairie 35-27

Hobart 28, LOWELL 17  

Hobart 20-0

Valparaiso 35, LaPorte 0  

Valpo 45-0

Elkhart Central 28, Mishawaka 20  

(wrong) Mishawaka 42-36

Merrillville 27, CP 17  

Merrillville 10-9

Warsaw 21, Penn 14  

Warsaw 35-18


‘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%
WEEK TWELVE: 8 OF 10, 80.0%

POST-SEASON: 32 OF 39, 82.0%
SEASON TOTAL (OVERALL): 105 of 138, 76.0%

ANALYSIS: Calumet and Knox was a flip of the coin. If I had it to do again, I’d still pick Calumet. But I probably ignored the weather conditions in the Elkhart Central-Mishawaka game. Mishawaka has always been a run-dominated team and in sub-freezing cold, the running attack figured to top EC’s more balanced offense.

Great analysis in hindsight, huh? Just like the New Prairie-Plymouth game where the run-dominated offense defeated the passing offense in anti-pass weather.

'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 (13) Thirteen:

Here’s what’s going to happen.

(1A) North Judson (7-4) at No. 8 Lafayette Catholic (9-3):

LAFAYETTE (11-15-2019) This is not close. North Judson and LC live in different worlds. The Jays have played eight Class 1A schools while Lafayette Catholic has won eight in a row and they never see a 1A public school until the playoffs. Judson won a sectional for the first time in 15 years. That’s good enough. Who is Clark Barrett (6-5, 215)? I don't know but he’s a sophomore who has thrown (154 or 283) for 2,008 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Lafayette Catholic 35, North Judson 7

(1A) No. 2 South Adams (12-0) at No. 4 Adams Central (11-1):

MONROE (11-15-2019)
The ‘Adams Family’ championship sends South Adams star ‘King’ James Arnold (6-3, 190) and his 43 touchdown passes (143 of 235 for 2,988 yards) to Central. This is a rematch. South Central handed Adams Central their only loss 42-14 on September 27. The South Adams Starfires have won every game this year by 19 points or more, but Adams Central was 13-1 last year and this game surely has been anticipated since the playoff draw came out. But again, teams that lose by large margins (3 TDs or more) to a rival during the regular season almost never come back and win the rematch in the playoffs.

South Adams 35, Adams Central 17

(2A) No. 1 Lewis Cass (11-1) at ANDREAN (9-3):

MERRILLVILLE (11-15-2019)
Here’s the best matchup of the week. Cass is the top-rated team in 2A, but unranked Andrean really isn't a Class 2A team. The Niners open with Class 6A Merrillville and they play five 4A schools. Cass averages 45 points a game, but they play mostly 2A and 3A schools. Andrean’s Ryan Wash has run 219 times for 1,874 yards and 23 touchdowns and 2018 all-stater Nick Flesher, who missed most of the season, scored three TDs last week. This isn't a mismatch, but it isn't that close either. Has any school ever won a state basketball, baseball and football state championship all in the same calendar year? Really. I don't know.

Andrean 31, Cass 21

(2A) Eastside (10-2) at No. 8 Eastbrook (10-2):

MARION (11-15-2019)
Eastbrook is built for November. They’ve thrown the ball just 50 times all season. Multiple running backs. 3,700 yards and 53 touchdowns. Who is Laban Davis (5-8, 145)? I don't know, but he’s thrown for 1,300 yards and run for almost 600 yards for Eastside. But nine of Eastside’s wins have come against teams with losing records. I don't think this is close.

Eastbrook 41, East Side 20

(4A) No. 4 New Prairie (11-1) at Hobart (10-2):

HOBART (11-15-2019)
This one is hard to call. Hobart has locked down the running attack of everyone they’ve seen since September. But the Brickies haven't seen anybody like this. New Prairie quarterback Chris Ketterer (6-1, 195) has run 283 times for 2,335 yards and 33 touchdowns. And halfback Chris Mays (5-11, 175) has run 167 times for 1,371 yards and 23 TDs. The Cougar offensive line usually wins. Hobart runnng back DJ Lipke has run for 27 TDs and QB Riley Johnston has run for 13 more. But there's no middle ground here. This game breaks big one way or the other and it's all about whether Hobart’s defense can stop New Prairie running the football. I think they can.

Hobart 27, New Prairie 17

(4A) East Noble (12-0) at Mississinewa (11-1):

GAS CITY (11-15-2019)
The Noblemen are led by double-threat senior QB Bailey Parker (6-2, 185) who is 179 of 287 for 2,491 yards and 37 touchdowns. Parker has also run 134 times for 1,082 yards and 15 more TDs. Receiver Hayden Jones has caught 60 passes for 857 yards and 15 touchdown passes. Missisinewa, which has won at least 10 games four years in a row, has a chance Friday because they stay on the ground and rely on Cade Campbell who has run 146 times for 1,236 yards. But East Noble has played nine 4A teams and Missisinewa plays mostly 2A schools. That matters. East Noble is too good here.

East Noble 31, Mississinewa 14

(5A) No. 2 Valparaiso (11-0) at Mishawaka (9-2):

MISHAWAKA (11-15-2019)
Mishawaka has played well and they have had a good year. But it's over. Valparaiso is too big along the front and the Vikings faced a similar pure-run attack last week at LaPorte. Mishawaka has thrown 25 passes all season. They run and they don't give up on it. Valpo’s Tommy Burbee has run 176 times for 1,311 yards and he’s running behind an offensive line with three 300-pound blockers. The Vikings, who play largely a 6A schedule, have allowed just 110 points in 11 games. The colder it gets, the more pure size matters and Valpo is very big and strong in both lines.

Valparaiso 35, Mishawaka 14

(5A) No. 4 Bishop Dwenger (11-1) at No. 7 (West Lafayette ) Harrison (9-2):

WEST LAFAYETTE (11-15-2019)
Dwenger has good balance. Almost 200 yards per game rushing and 150 per game passing. That’s good for November. But the big deal is the defense with 30 quarterback sacks and just 82 points allowed all season. Harrison has given up more than 40 points three times, but they do have Omarion Dixon (6-1, 205) who has run (207 times) for 1,563 yards. In cold weather, this is close. But Dwenger has played a tougher schedule. They’ve paid the cost to be the boss.

Bishop Dwenger 28, Harrison 21

(6A) No. 5 Carmel (8-3) at No. 1 Homestead (11-0):

FORT WAYNE (11-15-2019)
The eight-time state champs won't be intimidated facing the top-ranked team in Class 6A. Homestead averages 38 points a game and was 9-0 and the undefeated champion of Fort Wayne’s powerful Summit Athletic Conference (SAC). But Carmel plays all 6A schools and they’ve held seven teams to 14 points or less. How did Homestead play into overtime against Noblesville (1-9) two week’s ago. What’s up with that? Homestead’s 6-foot-6 quarterback Luke Goode is 163 of 264 for 2,642 yards and 26 TDs. Carmel’s running back Dylan Dowling (6-2, 220) is built for November.

Carmel 28 Homestead 21

(6A) Warsaw (9-2) at No. 4 Merrillville (10-1):

MERRILLVILLE (11-15-2019)
Merrillville has relied on the defense so far in the playoffs, getting eight turnovers from Jefferson and Crown Point. The problem here is that Warsaw doesn't throw the ball like either Jeff or CP. Warsaw ran for 426 yards against Penn with three different boys, Wyatt Amiss (5-11, 160), Juan Jaramillo (5-10, 175) and Blake Marsh (5-10, 145) all running for 100 yards. Merrillville has shut down passing attacks, but they gave up 300 yards rushing to Jefferson in the sectional semifinals. In 30-degree weather, you have to lean towards the team that runs all the time.

Warsaw 28, Merrillville 21

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Revised: November 11, 2019 .