Week 2 Picks - 2020 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

August 28, 2020


Hobart boys will run down 'Brickie Hill' to take on traditional rival Merrillville Friday night in Hobart. Hobart is rated No. 1 this week in Class 4A (Photo by Mark Smith)

Mr. Picker - WEEK (2) TWO:

CROWN POINT (08-28-2020)
There are many variables in the second week of the season normally and there are even more this year. In our Covid-19 virus universe, I have no way of knowing who didn’t play in week one or who might be a ‘late scratch’ (ruled out of a game on Thursday or Friday).

This season, schools like Bishop Noll, Highland and Bowman Academy didn’t even have a game in week one. Calumet, Griffith and East Chicago are idle in weeks one and two.

It's not the end of the world as we know it if teams don't get to play nine weeks in a row. I’ve always thought that schedule (actually 10 weeks counting the first playoff game) is hard on boys physically, especially at small schools where players play on both offense and defense.

Griffith, for example, has just six games scheduled at this point and they have an off day in week eight on October 9. If I’m Griffith, I leave that date empty so my boys can get ready for Class 4A Sectional 17. It is a major flaw in the Indiana state tournament that many Class 5A and 6A schools get a bye before state tournament play in November while smaller 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A schools all must play every single week.

There’s going to be a limited number of games to pick each week with all the Hammond schools sidelined, but I’m still not going to pick Penn vs. LaPorte. Too lopsided. And late weather reports say that there’s a chance of rain on everybody Friday night. Could be a ‘fun’ night.

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-1, 2020 Football Picks in Review:
Aug. 21-22, 2020

Wrong - 3 Right - 6 = 66.6%

The Pick The Result

MERRILLVILLE 34, Andrean 21  


Lake Central 28, Munster 6  

Lake Central 28-0

Portage 35, Hanover Central 14  

Portage 42-40

Rensselaer 27, KV 17  

(wrong) Kankakee Valley 28-7

Hobart 28, Chesterton 21  

Hobart 24-10

Valparaiso 31, Penn 14  

Valparaiso 17-16

Michigan City 28, Riley 14  

Michigan City 55-0


(wrong) LOWELL 6-0

LaPorte 24, New Prairie 16  

(wrong) New Prairie 14-0

WEEK ONE (in review):
Every year I pick Crown Point to beat Lowell, it seems, and every year they don’t. Three years in a row now. I need to see a tape of the Rensselaer-KV game because that didn’t go anywhere near like I expected.

I could have guessed that LaPorte, which had a fractured pre-season, would have a tough time against country rival New Prairie. To pick six of nine isn’t very good, but considering the pre-season, I’m surprised I got six right.

‘Mr. Picker’ (by the week)
WEEK ONE: 6 of 9, 66.6%

'Mr. Picker' (15 Years)
2019 (final) OVERALL: 126 of 166 = 75.9%
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 2020 WEEK (2) TWO:

North Newton (1-0) at Rensselaer (0-1):

RENSSELAER (08-28-2020)
This game is interesting, if only because Rensselaer defeated North Newton twice last season. The Bombers lost 28-7 to Kankakee Valley last week, a major surprise to me. I’m checking this statistic repeatedly, but it looks like Rensselaer has beaten North Newton 28 times in a row. Can that be? North Newton topped rival South Newton 42-14 last week, but South Newton has lost 33 games in a row. I’m not buying that Rensselaer suddenly isn’t any good. Until further notice, I’ll just think that KV is better than I thought.

Rensselaer 30, North Newton 14

Boone Grove (0-1) at River Forest (0-1):

HOBART TOWNSHIP (08-28-2020)
Boone Grove knew there would be hard times this year after going 27-8 the last three seasons. Boone’s 41-0 home loss to John Glenn last week was right, but not totally unexpected. River Forest lost 21-14 to Wheeler last week, but they had to be very optimistic coming into this year. This should be a win for RF in the home opener.

River Forest 28, Boone Grove 14

Andrean (0-1) at Lake Central (1-0):

ST. JOHN (08-28-2020)
The new Lake Central quarterback Luke Neidy was 16 of 24 for 186 yards last week, but he’ll find more resistance in the Andrean secondary this week. Andrean was overpowered by Merrillville 40-13 in week one. Before last week, I thought the 59ers were better than Lake Central and I still do. I misspoke last week. This is NOT the first meeting of LC and Andrean. The neighbors did get together 27 years ago. On September 10, 1993, LC beat Andrean 15-10.

Andrean 35, Lake Central 28

Michigan City (1-0) at Warsaw (1-0):

WARSAW (08-28-2020)
Rematch of a 20-19 Warsaw win in 2019, they’ll need to warm up the scoreboard for this one. Warsaw won 42-35 last week and they had Merrillville down in the 6A regional last year before the Pirates rallied. The Tigers are difficult to defend but so is MC.

Warsaw 35, Michigan City 28

Munster (0-1) at Hanover Central (0-1):

CEDAR LAKE (08-28-2020)
The first-ever visit of Munster to Cedar Lake and the Mustangs need this one. Munster has lost 12 games in a row. Hanover looked good offensively in a 42-40 loss to Portage last week and this is the HC home opener. Lake Central threw the ball well on Munster last week and, in dry weather, Hanover will be able to as well.

Hanover Central 28, Munster 14

Wheeler (1-0) at Kankakee Valley (1-0):

WHEATFIELD (08-28-2020)
The Bearcats head to Jasper County where KV is coming off a 28-7 upset of rival Rensselaer. Wheeler topped River Forest 21-14 last week, but like I said before, I choose to believe that KV’s 28-7 win over Rensselaer last week said more about KV than it did about Rensselaer.

Kankakee Valley 21, Wheeler 7

Merrillville (1-0) at Hobart (1-0):

HOBART (08-28-2020)
A prime time matchup pitting Hobart’s powerful defense against a juiced-up Merrillville offense featuring Morton-transfer JoJo Johnson. Northwest Indiana folks know that this used to be the premier game in ‘the region’ every year in the 1980s and 90s. This game could break big either way and I’ll go with the home team.

Hobart 30, Merrillville 20

Chesterton (0-1) at Pioneer (1-0):

ROYAL CENTER (08-28-2020)
One of the oddest matchups I’ve ever seen as Class 6A Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) power Chesterton rides the big, yellow bus to tiny Royal Center to take on the 2A Panthers. This ‘war of different worlds’ was created by week two cancellations of other scheduled games and the Trojans are in for an experience. If Chesterton folks think Porter County is somewhat rural, they’ll love northwest Cass County. Pioneer is a tiny town titan with an intimidating record of 125-15 in the last 12 years. The Trojans lost their opener 24-10 to Hobart so they need this game before they start the DAC season.

Chesterton 42, Pioneer 21

Portage (1-0) at LOWELL (1-0):

LOWELL (08-28-2020)
Portage rolled up 500 yards on Hanover last week, but they’ll face a speedy Lowell defense which shut out Crown Point last week. Portage has topped Lowell the last two years and last year’s 35-9 whipping definitely got the Devils’ attention. Portage has defeated Lowell in each of the last two years and they do it again this Friday night.

Portage 28, LOWELL 24

CROWN POINT (0-1) at Highland (0-0):

HIGHLAND (08-28-2020)
Crown Point made just enough mistakes to lose 6-0 to Lowell last week and they need this game. But this is Highland’s season opener and the last two meetings between these two schools have been won by CP, only 14-10 and 24-0. I believe that Crown Point is much better than they showed last week.

Crown Point 23, Highland 7

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Revised: August 28, 2020 .