Week 14 Picks - 2019 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

November 18, 2019

High school sports is moments and memories. There is no greater moment than to play one home game for the right to go to the state finals. That is what the undefeated Valparaiso Vikings will do this Friday night against Bishop Dwenger. (Photo by Mark Smith)

Mr. Picker - WEEK (14) FOURTEEN:

VALPARAISO (11-22-2019)
Four week into the state tournament, we’re finding out something about the level of competition in certain areas of the state.

Normally, Fort Wayne’s Summit Athletic Conference (SAC) is a force in the post-season. Not this year. All SAC teams, including top-ranked Class 6A Homestead, are out except Bishop Dwenger.

Usually, the Indianapolis private schools play deep into November. Not this time. Scecina (8-4), Roncalli (7-6), Cathedral (9-3) and Brebeuf (7-3) have all been eliminated.

Only Class 1A No. 1 Lutheran (12-0) and 3A No. 1 Bishop Chatard (12-1) are still alive among the tradition rich private schools in the Indy area.

Of the eight teams in Indianapolis’ dominant Metropolitan Conference, three (Ben Davis, Center Grove and Carmel) have reached the Class 6A semifinals. And if you follow Northwest Indiana football, there’s always been the supposition that the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) didn't get teams deep into the state tournament because they were not very good. But maybe it was the format.

Things have changed since the splitting of the old Class 5A into the present 5A and 6A. Now, for the second year in a row, the DAC gets two teams to the Semistate. Great improvement, right? Not really, it's just that the 5A and 6A bracket both have multiple DAC teams. The format was holding the DAC back.

Okay, this is the big week. The semifinals. Everybody remembers the teams that make it to the state championship game. Nobody remembers who lost at the Semistate. Remember that all games involving Northwest Indiana teams (Valparaiso, Merrillville, Andrean and Hobart) will begin at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time and 6:30 p.m. Central (or Northwest Indiana) time.

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

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-13, 2019 Football Picks in Review:
Nov. 15-16, 2019

Wrong - 2; Right - 8 = 80.0%

The Pick The Result

Lafayette Catholic 35, North Judson 7  

Lafayette Catholic 43-17

South Adams 35, Adams Central 17  

(wrong) Adams Central 19-7

Andrean 31, Cass 21  

Andrean 36-14

Eastbrook 41, East Side 20  

Eastbrook 42-9

Hobart 27, New Prairie 17  

Hobart 36-7

East Noble 31, Mississinewa 14  

East Noble 30-14

Valparaiso 35, Mishawaka 14  

Valparaiso 49-0

Bishop Dwenger 28, Harrison 21  

Bishop Dwenger 35-21

Carmel 28 Homestead 21  

Carmel 31-7

Warsaw 28, Merrillville 21  

(wrong) Merrillville 42-28

‘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%

WEEK THIRTEEN: 8 OF 10, 80.0%
POST-SEASON: 40 OF 49, 80.1%
SEASON TOTAL (OVERALL): 113 of 148, 76.3%

ANALYSIS: Adams Central’s 19-7 win over South Adams was a rarity. In September, South Adams defeated Adams Central 42-14 and AC turned it around in November. Very rare. I thought Warsaw would beat Merrillville, but the Pirates rallied from 14-0 and 21-7 deficits for a 42-28 win. Merrillville has not played great football at all in the post-season. They are hard to predict.

'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 (14) Fourteen:

Here’s what’s going to happen.

(1A) No. 4 Adams Central (12-1) at No. 8 Lafayette Catholic (10-3):

LAFAYETTE (11-22-2019)
This is a hard call. Catholic QB Clark Barrett (6-5, 215) is 169 of 307 for 2,208 yards and 22 TDs. Adams Central was 13-0 last year in week 14 and they lost to state champ Pioneer. I like Lafayette Catholic, at home, in a high scoring game.

Lafayette Catholic 34, Adams Central 27

(1A) No. 9 West Washington (12-1) at No. 1 Lutheran (12-0):

INDIANAPOLIS (11-22-2019)
Lutheran junior Blake White is 153 of 258 for 2,165 yards and 24 TDs and senior teammate Marcus McFadden (5-11, 205) has run 203 times for 1,789 yards and 36 TDs. The balance of their offense has eventually overwhelmed everyone they’ve met. No one has come within 13 points of them. I don't think West Washington, playing on the road and in their
first Semistate game in 26 years, has played a tough enough schedule to stay close here.

Lutheran 37, West Washington 20

(2A) No. 2 Western Boone (12-1) at No. 8 Triton Central (10-3):

FAIRLAND (11-22-2019)
I don't know where Triton Central is. It's in Fairland? Okay. I don't know where that is either. Western Boone has scored 75 touchdowns in 13 games. And since they don't have great numbers from any one individual player, that indicates that their offensive and defensive lines are dominant. Along those lines, Boone has 44 quarterback sacks. Triton Central did upset Evansville Mater Dei 13-7 last week, but even at home, I don't think they can hang with Western Boone.

Western Boone 41, Triton Central 20

(2A) Andrean (10-3) at No. 5 Eastbrook (11-2):

MARION (11-22-2019)
Eastbrook has thrown 52 passes all year, yet they’ve scored 73 touchdowns. The Panthers rolled over undefeated Greentown 42-12 in the sectional quarterfinals. But Andrean has played Class 6A Merrillville, 4A regional champ Hobart and 2A No. 1 Lewis Cass. There is a massive difference in the schedules these two teams play. Andrean does not play any 2A schools until the post-season. Ryan Walsh has carried 249 times for 2,134 yards. Nick Flesher has eight touchdowns in just 24 carries and 14 receptions. The 59ers are too strong on offense for Eastbrook.

Andrean 40, Eastbrook 21

(3A) No. 2 Heritage Hills (13-0) at Danville (8-5):

LAFAYETTE (11-22-2019)
Danville is led by senior Chandler Schubert (5-9, 185) who has run 270 times for 1,744 yards and soph QB Kale Payne, who has completed 99 of 185 for 1,639 yards and 21 TDs. But Heritage Hills has allowed just 80 points (6.2 per game) all season and the Patriots have rushed for 3,400 yards. Danville, playing in the Semistate for the first time in 20 years, won't get the ball enough here to score like they need to.

Heritage Hills 28, Danville 20

(3A) No. 1 Bishop Chatard (12-1) at No. 4 (Mishawaka Marian) (12-1):

MISHAWAKA (11-22-2019)
The game of the week. The ‘original gangsters’ of the IHSAA football tournament, 13-time state champion Bishop Chatard heads north to put some ‘Knight moves’ on the Marian Knights who have lost only once, to cross town rival Mishawaka. Chatards’ Jaylen Taylor averages 9.1 yards per carry (196 carries, 1,786 yards, 23 TDs) and BC quarterback Kenny Cheek is 135 of 206 for 1,850 yards, 27 TDs and just four interceptions. Marian has a defense that has allowed just 95 points (7.3 per game) in 13 games, but I don't think its been a strong year in the South Bend-Elkhart area. Chatard has faced 11 teams with winning records. I’m not sure this is a close game.

Bishop Chatard 27, Marian 10

(4A) (Fortville) Mt. Vernon (11-2) at No. 3 Evansville Memorial (11-2):

EVANSVILLE (11-22-2019)
Memorial junior Colton Pence has completed 157 of 263 for 2,012 yards, but Mt. Vernon senior Rhett Snodgrass has completed 130 of 226 for 2,093 yards. Memorial has lost only to cross town rival Evansville Central 23-20, while Mt. Vernon is in the Semistate game for the first time in school history. It should be noted that Memorial is really not a Class 4A school.
The Tigers were 14–0 in 2017 before losing the Class 3A state title game to Brebuef. Memorial was then 14-0 in 2018 before losing the state title game 47-42 to West Lafayette. The format bumped them up to 4A and here they are. Everything from the outside suggests that Memorial will not be stopped this Friday.

Evansville Memorial 35, Mt. Vernon 14

(4A) Hobart (11-2) at No. 1 East Noble (13-0):

KENDALLVILLE (11-22-2019)
Noble County is a long way from the barn for a lot of us, but this will be the most dramatic game of Friday night’s slate one way or another. The Knights are led by all-state quarterback Billy Parker (6-2, 185) who has thrown for 2,730 yards and rushed for 1,219 more. Senior receiver Hayden Jones (6-0, 170) has caught 66 passes for 1,051 yards for the Noblemen, who have had 17 winning seasons in a row. This is the final home game for one of East Noble’s greatest teams and one of the tradition-rich schools’ greatest players. But Hobart is the true return to glory story. The once and future kings of Northwest Indiana high school football (state champs in 1987, 89, 91 and 93) are trying to reach the state title game for the 12th time, but just the first time (since 1996) in a generation.

The Brickie defense has shut out five teams. Senior defensive back Matt Benton leads the state with 11 pass interceptions and Brickie bad boy Bobby Babcock (6-0, 220) has 26 tackles for loss and nine QB sacks. When Hobart won the regional over New Prairie, more than one player was quoted in the newspaper with an unusual choice of words. They didn't do it for their teammates, their old coach or their mama. They said the did it for the city of Hobart.

If you can find Kendallville (and that’s no small task), this game is worth seeing. Hobart is playing at an intensity level I have rarely seen and they will be there again.

Hobart 24, East Noble 21

(5A) Bloomington South (8-4) at No. 1 New Palestine (12-0):

NEW PALESTINE (11-22-2019)
This will be the final home game for state player of the year Charlie Spegal (5-10, 220) who is the state’s all-time leading scorer. Spegal, a fullback, carried the ball 338 times last year for 3,356 yards and 68 touchdowns. That's correct. 68 touchdowns. This year? He’s eased up. Spegal has carried 283 times for 2,731 yards and 50 touchdowns in 12 games this fall. Charlie Spegal has rushed for over 10,000 yards and scored 1,000 points in high school, both state records. No one has ever stopped him and Bloomington South won't be the first.

New Palestine 33, Bloomington South 14

(5A) No. 4 Bishop Dwenger (11-1) at No. 2 Valparaiso (12-0):

VALPARAISO (11-22-2019)
Valpo’s most dominant team plays its final home game against Dwenger, one of tough rides of the Indiana state football tournament. The Saints are 11-1 with only a 17-15 loss to 4A No.1 Homestead (11-1) and they have allowed just 103 points (8.6 per game) in 12 games. Valparaiso has been a big, green monster all season with four shutouts and a 29-28 victory over 6A No. 4 Merrillville (11-1). In the post-season, Valpo has won three games: 69-6. 45-0 and 49-0.

The offensive and defensive lines of Valpo are the best I have seen in many years. Dwenger will not be intimidated, but the 5A Vikings play six Class 6A schools. Everybody thinks they have a chance against Valparaiso until the game starts. And if/when Valpo wins, we can start the countdown to the game of the year. The game of the decade. Unbeaten 5A No. 2 Valpo and unbeaten 5A No. 1 New Palestine for the 5A state title. It must happen and it will.

Valparaiso 28, Bishop Dwenger 14

(6A) No. 10 Ben Davis (8-4) at Center Grove (7-5):

GREENWOOD (11-22-2019)
Center Grove ended the regular season with a 4-5 record, but there’s a reason for that. CG plays in the Metro Conference in Indianapolis and the losses are to Warren Central (8-4), North Central (6-4), Carmel (9-3), not to mention 5A No. 1 New Palestine (12-0). Ben Davis is in the same league and the Giants have lost to, among other teams, Center Grove, a 48-20 loss in September. Going off that result, I don't have anything that would stop me from picking Center Grove again.

Center Grove 35, Ben Davis 21

(6A) No. 4 Merrillville (11-1) at No. 5 Carmel (9-3):

CARMEL (11-22-2019)
Merrillville’s ultimate challenge and they head down I-65 to take on the eight-time state champs. Carmel lost the state championship game last year to Warren Central and they shut down 6A No. 1 Homestead last week. Carmel held No. 1 Homestead to 37 yards rushing. Merrillville has leaned on quarterback Peter Rodriguez who carried 18 times for 165 yards in a come-from-behind 42-28 win over Warsaw. Merrillville has to eliminate the penalties (six holding penalties last week) and I don't think they can.

Carmel 31, Merrillville 21

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Revised: November 18, 2019 .