Week 1 Picks - 2018 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

August 14, 2018

It's time to start finding our way to the top of the stands again each Friday night. A lot of Porter County people will find their way up into the stands at defending regional champion Penn Friday. (Photo by Mark Smith)

Mr. Picker - WEEK (1) ONE:

MERRILLVILLE (08-17-2018)
The best time of the day is in the morning. It's cool. It's quiet. You look out the window and watch the sun come up. You’ve got time. You’ve got a plan for how things are going to get done. You’re just getting ready for the day to come.

That’s true of the football season, too. The best time is in the pre-season. It's quiet. You’ve got a plan. Everybody’s going to win. And it seems possible. You’re just getting ready for the day to come.

Well, in Northwest Indiana high school football, the day is Friday. It's time to see if the plans work.
The weather forecast for Friday is good for mid-August and unlike last year, when the DAC all had returning QBs, there’s a lot of change that hits the field for the first time Friday night.

I'm going to leave out Lake Station at East Chicago. I give the Eagles credit for simply scheduling East Chicago. Bowman and (Indianapolis) Washington is another match-up I’ll skip.

As usual, week one features the old traditional (and notoriously unpredictable) next door rivalries like Whiting-Clark, LaPorte-New Prairie, Crown Point-Lowell, North Newton-South Newton and Munster-Lake Central. School districts that border each other. And no Indiana-Illinois matchups. Illinois teams don’t start play until next week.

I’ve always thought that no one really knows what will happen the first week of the high school football season. Baseball and basketball scrimmages fairly accurately simulate real games. Football scrimmages just don’t.

The NFL isn't playing real games yet. The colleges haven't started playing. But the football season does begin this Friday night.

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-15, 2017 Football Picks in Review:
Nov. 24-25, 2017

Wrong - 2; Right - 4 = 66.7%

The Pick The Result

Pioneer 42, Eastern Greene 21  

Pioneer 42-14

Memorial 35, Brebeuf 30  

Memorial 29-17

Columbus East 49, Kokomo 14  

Columbus East 42-28

Woodlan 28, Southridge 27  

Southridge 15-14

LOWELL 27, East Central 10  

East Central 14-7

Ben Davis 42, Penn 14  

Ben Davis 63-14


State finals review: Well, Woodlan should have beaten Southridge. They did lead 14-7 with 4:30 to play.

And Lowell outgained East Central. The Devils scored first. Still getting over that one. I really thought Lowell was the better team, but EC did just enough to win.

The other four state championship games went very much as they should have. No surprises.

I’m still looking to get back near that 77% level we hit way back in 2012. Not a lot of dominant teams. This may be a tough year for the old ‘Picker’.

‘Mr. Picker’ 2017 RESULTS

WEEK (1) ONE (8 of 12, 66.7%)

WEEK (2) TWO (9 of 12, 75.0%)
WEEK (3) THREE (7 of 12, 58.3%)
WEEK (4) FOUR (11 of 12, 91.7%)
WEEK (5) FIVE (6 of 12, 50.0%)
WEEK (6) SIX (9 of 11, 81.8%)
WEEK (7) SEVEN (10 of 12, 83.3%)
WEEK (8) EIGHT (9 of 12, 75.0%)
WEEK (9) NINE (10 of 12, 83.3%)
TOTAL: 79 of 107, 73.8% (regular season)

WEEK (10) TEN (16 of 19, 84.2%)
WEEK (11) ELEVEN (16 of 16, 100.0%)
WEEK (12) TWELVE (9 of 12, 74.0%)
WEEK (13) THIRTEEN (7 of 12, 58.3%)
WEEK (14) FOURTEEN (6 of 12, 50.0%)
WEEK (15) FIFTEEN (4 of 6, 66.7%)

TOTAL: 79 of 107, 73.8% (regular season)
PLAYOFF TOTAL: 58 of 77, 75.2%
OVERALL TOTAL: 137 of 184, 74.4% (final)


'Mr. Picker' (13 Years)
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 2018 WEEK (1) ONE:

Wheeler at River Forest:

Some Lowell flavor here. Former Lowell QB Joe O’Connell makes his coaching debut for RF while former Lowell quarterback (and kicker) Adam Hudak starts his second season at Wheeler. A River Forest win in the first game would be a fun story but it's fiction. I think the Bearcats have more to work with here.

Wheeler 28, River Forest 12

Highland at Morton:

HAMMOND (8-17-2018)
Morton’s going to have a really good season. Highland might, too. The ‘good’ part might just not start until after this Friday. Highland lost this game 27-23 last year, but Morton has 17 seniors back off a team that was 8-3 last year. Highland may be better, but this game shouldn't be as close.

Morton 30, Highland 14

Hobart at Chesterton:

CHESTERTON (8-17-2018)
Hobart had a six-game winning streak in the middle of the 2017 season, but they only scored 14 points in three late losses. Expectations are high this season as most of the defense returns. Chesterton topped the Brickies 35-21 last season, but that’s unlikely to happen Friday.

Hobart 28, Chesterton 8

Mishawaka at Portage:

PORTAGE (8-17-2018)
This game starts a half hour earlier (6:30 p.m.) with Mishawaka coming from the Eastern Time zone. Portage has allowed 162 points in the last four games against Mishawaka (all losses) and they go into this one with a rookie QB. The Cavemen will have a new coach as long time leader Bart Curtis took the head coaching job at Warsaw. Word is: Mishawaka isn't changing the offense they ran last year in a 47-45 win over Portage.

Mishawaka 34, Portage 27

Valparaiso at Penn:

OSCEOLA (8-17-2018)
Penn brings back 10 starters from a team that went 12-2 last season, shut out Valparaiso 13-0 in the sectional and beat Crown Point 33-3 in the regional. The Vikings upset Penn 12-7 in the 2017 season opener, but even with a team that will be near the top of the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC), this game goes to the home team.

Penn 27, Valpo 17

LaPorte at New Prairie:

NEW CARLISLE (8-17-2018) Here’s the little school-big school neighbor battle. This is the offense that rushed for 4,000 yards last year. They will have a new QB but he (Caleb Kirkham) ran the same offense at the JV level last season. The Cougars have been consistently effective on offense for several years now, but LaPorte has defeated New Prairie four years in a row. The Slicers seem ready to make it five.

LaPorte 35, New Prairie 21

South Newton at North Newton:

MOROCCO (8-17-2018)
Did you know North Newton has gone 8-5 and 8-3 the last two seasons? South Newton was 0-10 last season. The Spartans graduated a lot last year’s team and they might not get eight wins in 2018. But South Newton appears to be a little short of players right now.

North Newton 33, South Newton 12

Rensselaer at Kankakee Valley:

WHEATFIELD (8-17-2018)
Rensselaer has most of its team back from last year, while KV just settled on a coach last month. The Bombers return 15 starters and an undefeated junior varsity from an 8-3 team. KV lost this game by two touchdowns last year and it's going to be a while before they get going this fall.

Rensselaer 34, Kankakee Valley 14

Michigan City at Griffith:

GRIFFITH (8-17-2018)
Griffith graduated most of their Greater South Shore Conference (GSSC) championship team from last season and they’ll need at least a month to get going, too. MC is breaking in a new QB, but the Panthers won't be able to score on that defense.

Michigan City 21, Griffith 0

Munster at Lake Central:

ST. JOHN (8-17-2018)
I’m looking for a large rebound this year from Lake Central after going 2-8 in 2017. LC got beat 41-0, 45-0, 42-8 and 56-7. Looking at it from the outside, it didn’t make sense. I predict a big turnaround for the Indians. Munster changes coaches and it may take them half a season to get the offense going. Munster and Merrillville were the only teams LC beat last year.

Lake Central 34, Munster 14

Merrillville at Andrean:

MERRILLVILLE (8-17-2018)
Merrillville’s good defense facing a good Andrean offense. Here’s where you see the team with a returning starting QB (Andrean) going against a team without a returning QB. That should be the difference. The 59ers won this game by 29 points last year. This one will be closer.

Andrean 30, Merrillville 20

Whiting at Clark:

HAMMOND (8-18-18)
Clark has lost 31 of their last 32, but they have a chance to start fresh in the traditional NW Indiana Saturday night opener. Maybe next week. Whiting has 19 returning starters from a team that beat Clark 74-12 last year. History does not necessarily repeat itself, but Whiting has won this matchup six years in a row.

Whiting 42, Clark 21

Lowell at Crown Point:

CROWN POINT (8-17-2018)
Both teams are very much new compared to the last two seasons when both won sectional titles. Nobody saw last week’s Crown Point scrimmage at Penn, but I saw Lowell scrimmage against Merrillville and I don’t know exactly what they have either. Usually you go with the team that returns its starting QB and that’s Lowell. But the home team has won the last four Lowell-CP games.

Who wins? Check back later in the week.

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Revised: August 15, 2018 .