Week 1 Picks - 2017 NW Indiana High School Football
A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith
August 18, 2017
Class 4A No. 10 New Prairie at 5A No. 7 LaPorte is one of many top nonconference games on opening night of the 2017 high school football season. (Photo by Mark Smith)
'Mr. Picker' (Through the Years)
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 2017 WEEK (1)
LaPORTE (08-18-2017) Opening night is intimidating for players. I think most believe they are ready for it until the night comes.
Then you walk to the center for the field and the real crowd (not the quiet, chatting with each other scrimmage crowd) is in the stands. The radio and camera people are there and the referees have that serious look on their faces.
When you see a team has a new QB starting or just a couple of returning starters on offense, don't expect a lot right away. Playing offense is tougher than playing defense. And playing in front of two or three thousand 'friends of the programs' at a place like Munster or Lowell or Penn or New Prairie is very exciting. Sometimes a bit too exciting for boys doing it for the first time ever. Picking games is somewhat less exciting. Especially picking them wrong. Mr. Picker is looking for a comeback season. Only 70% on the picks in 2016.
Okay, now. New rules.
Bishop Noll has lost 24 games in a row going back three years. Clark has lost 22 in a row. Did you know Bishop Noll hasn't played Clark in 11 years and they won't meet this season. What are they? Five miles apart?
Anyway, I'm banning Clark and Noll from the Mr. Picker board (for their own good) until one of them posts a win. I'm not going to sit here and pick them to lose every week when they haven't won a game since 2014.
Should be a good year. Everybody in the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) returns a starting quarterback, so we should see some good offensive play.
Mr. Picker 2017 WEEK (1) ONE:
Morton at Highland:
HIGHLAND (08-18-2017) One of several good season openers this Friday. Highland won 42-13 last season and the Governors probably have not forgotten. The Trojans have four returning starters on the offensive line, including Gannon Grider (6-6, 250). Morton breaks in a new QB in Credell Prather. Looks like they'll score a lot of points against most teams. But Highland can control the ball.
Highland 27, Morton 13
Lake Central at Munster:
MUNSTER (08-18-2017) The Mustangs have to contain LC quarterback Zach Bundalo, who completed 93 of 204 for 1,245 yards and 11 TDs (8 interceptions) yards as sophomore last season. On a warm night in front of a big crowd, LC's going to line up with four receivers and have Bundalo throw the ball. Munster may have too many rookie starters on this night.
Lake Central 34, Munster 14
Chesterton at Hobart:
HOBART (08-18-2017) This is a hard one to pick. I'm reading where Hobart has top flight talent in their freshman and sophomore class. But Chesterton brings a lot of underclassmen back from a losing team last year. Hobart truthfully brings almost no one back. They lost a reported 28 seniors off their sectional title team. The Trojans scored just 99 points all last season and they've lost eight in a row. I'm just guessing on this one.
Chesterton 21, Hobart 14
Griffith at Michigan City:
MICHIGAN CITY (08-18-2017) This is another strong match-up as the Panthers and returning QB Fred Winston and halfback Khadafi Coleman are set to attack the Greater South Shore Conference. Michigan City returns QB Mike McCullough, who passed for 1,600 yards last season and linebacker Chase Triplett who made 93 tackles as a sophomore last season. Warm up the scoreboard.
Michigan City 42, Griffith 31
Portage at Mishawaka:
MISHAWAKA (08-18-2017) Portage returns nine defensive players and option QB Anthony Maceo (238 carries, 1,450 yards, 14 TDs) to a team they hope will contend for the DAC title. Mishawaka lost three games last year: Cathedral, Penn and Snider. And I didn't think it was one of their better teams. But reportedly much is new at Mishawaka including new lights, (much needed) new turf and
a lot of new players. I think Portage has the experience to go to Mishawaka and win but a word of warning: Mishawaka's 'good ole boy' coach Bart Curtis ALWAYS says he has a young team that needs a lot of work. He said that last year and they were 10-3.
Portage 26, Mishawaka 14
Calumet at Gavit:
HAMMOND (08-18-2017) Gavit returns most of the offensive line and has Andrew Brown (6-6, 280) back on defense. New QB Jaymiere Johnson is said to be good. I thought Calumet was on the rise last season, but the 'rise' has to come a long way. Gavit won this matchup 55-0 last season.
Gavit 42, Calumet 14
River Forest at Wheeler:
UNION TOWNSHIP (08-18-2017) New coach Adam Hudak at Wheeler is working on a defense that gave up 27 points a game last year. The Ingots won four of their last six last season and they are being told (as if they didn't know) that Wheeler has defeated River Forest 10 years in a row. One of the undeniable rules of football is that you don't beat the same school every year forever. Last season, the Bearcats won 33-28. Is this the year? It could happen. But it won't.
Wheeler 28, River Forest 14
ANDREAN at MERRILLVILLE:
MERRILLVILLE (08-18-2017) I don't recognize a lot of the names of Merrillville offensive players except for one, returning QB Cam Wright. The Pirates' defense will lean on Justen Ramsey (6-0, 275) up front and veterans Marc Gurerro and Anthony Swims in the secondary. In a year when most teams return a starting QB, Andrean does not, but they do have big boys Evan Satoski (6-1, 230), Carter O'Laughlin (6-3, 320) and Jaylen Matthews (6-0, 225) back to block for 1,200-yard rusher halfback Teeley Rhyne. This one is too close to call.
MERRILLVILLE 21, ANDREAN 17
Penn at Valparaiso:
VALPO (08-18-2017) I've heard unusual things about Penn. Meaning: They won't be a Top-10 team. I know that all-state tight end Anthony Torres (6-6, 230), left for prep school. Then he came back. Now, he's ineligible. Maybe. With that said, Penn is a very large school with a lot of football players. Valparaiso's offense is led by QB Jake Leffew (113 of 204, 1,355 yards, 9 TDs) and big defensive back Mike Scarsella (6-4, 205) grabbed seven interceptions last fall. I like the Vikings in an upset.
Valpo 28, Penn 21
LaPorte at New Prairie:
NEW CARLISLE (08-18-2017) New Prairie QB Nick Wilson passed for 11 TDs last season and ran for 20 more. But LaPorte QB Nick Lorenz carried 98 times for 613 yards and 6 TDs leading a 30 points a game offense. The Slicers have a very difficult rushing offense to defense but the same is always said about New Prairie. This is usually a very entertaining game and I like a high score here. Should be a very good game to watch.
LaPorte 42, New Prairie 28
Kankakee Valley at Rensselaer:
RENSSELAER (08-18-2017) Kankakee Valley brings back most of the offense from 2016 including QB Nick Schoonveld and WR Dylan Parker. I'm not sure about the defense. Rensselaer has lost to KV the last two years, but they played some young boys last year who return. I see only five seniors on the roster. I like KV for a third consecutive year in a high scoring game.
Kankakee Valley 33, Rensselaer 28
CROWN POINT at LOWELL:
LOWELL (08-18-2017) This tends to be a low-scoring game although last year's scoreless tie (CP won 9-3 in 2 OTs) was extreme. I think both teams are better defensively than offensively. I'm not sure who's starting at QB for Lowell, which returns nine starters on defense. The Bulldogs' Ryan Bolda started two playoff wins at QB last fall and CP returns a lot of the offense including TE-PK Ben Fridrich and halfback Tyler Gomez. Linebacker Caleb Watson (138 tackles in 2016) returns to a defense that has been rebuilt from last year. CP's defense kept Lowell out of the end zone last year, but it will be much tougher this time.
LOWELL 27, CP 16
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Revised: October 15, 2017 .