Week 3 Picks - 2020 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

September 2, 2020


Merrillville and Kenneth Grant (78) take on Crown Point and Will Pettit (7) in Friday night's Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) opener in Merrillville. (Photo by Mark Smith)

Mr. Picker - WEEK (3) THREE:

CROWN POINT (09-02-2020)
I was glad to be able to watch Lake Central’s home game with Andrean last week on the WJOB Network. WJOB has been airing football, basketball, hockey and soccer on their ‘network’ which is available on app-TV setups like Roku the last couple of years. You have to get one of those TVs. They are relatively cheap and you can access a world of programming including sports and newscasts from all over the state. I’ve mentioned this before.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, WJOB decided to make its sports pay-per-view, probably due to the lack (or disappearance) of some the sponsors they previously had. Bad decision and they apparently realize it. Folks don’t have extra money right now. In week two, WJOB went back to airing the games for free.

In honor of that change, and here’s some free advice for everybody airing TV high school sports. Air the games for free but, in the old style of public television, ask for donations to support the host school and the broadcast station. Make each game somewhat of a Go-Fund-Me telethon. Offer up goodies like T-shirts, coffee cups and game balls for a certain level of donations. What you do when you go pay-per-view is, you obviously limit your audience. Some people won’t pay for high school games on TV. Some who will watch don’t have money to send you right now. But those who can support the games financially would much rather be asked to do it than required to.

By giving viewers the games and asking for help during a time of crisis, you create good will and inspire donations. Parents want to see their kids on TV but the difference between pay-per-view and the public-TV donation model is the difference between seeming entitled or community spirited.

On this week’s schedule, I can't pick Griffith and Hobart. Just not fair. Or LaPorte vs. Valpo. Not remotely an even game. But first, a look back at Mr. Picker's Week-2 predictions, and how he did.

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-2, 2020 Football Picks in Review:
Aug. 28-29, 2020

Wrong - 4 Right - 6 = 60.0%

The Pick The Result

Rensselaer 30, North Newton 14  

Rensselaer 45-16

River Forest 28, Boone Grove 14  

River Forest 53-6

Andrean 35, Lake Central 28  

Andrean 28-0

Warsaw 35, Michigan City 28  

(wrong) Michigan City 41-21

Hanover Central 28, Munster 14  

Hanover 49-16

Kankakee Valley 21, Wheeler 7  

KV 45-7

Hobart 30, Merrillville 20  

(wrong) Merrillville 23-7

Chesterton 42, Pioneer 21  

(wrong) Pioneer 20-16

Portage 28, LOWELL 24  

(wrong) LOWELL 37-19

Crown Point 23, Highland 7  


WEEK TWO (in review):
The biggest upset was Pioneer beating Chesterton, the first time a Class 1A school (Pioneer plays in Class 2A but they are 1A by enrollment) defeated a 6A school. Merrillville and Michigan City won on the road and I over-rated Portage’s season-opening win over Hanover Central. I’m having a harder-than-usual time judging the relative strength of teams. Merrillville’s five transfers from Morton have boosted them to the top spot in Northwest Indiana, but just how good are they? Michigan City is better than they were in 2019 when they reportedly had off-the-field issues, but that seems over. The Wolves seem headed back toward the level of play they reached in 2018, when they were 10-3.

‘Mr. Picker’ (by the week)
WEEK ONE: 6 of 9, 66.6%
WEEK ONE: 6 of 10, 60.0%
SEASON TOTAL (overall): 12 of 19, 63.1%

'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 (3) THREE:

Culver Academy (1-1) at Hanover Central (1-1):

CEDAR LAKE (09-04-2020)
Hanover is off to a very good start. They only lost to Class 6A Portage by two points and they topped Class 5A Munster. QB Blaze Cano has thrown six TD passes. But it gets real here. Culver topped Hanover 28-2 last year and they have split two games with Tippecanoe Valley and New Prairie. Tough call here.

Culver Academy 28, HANOVER 26

Gary West Side (0-2) at Highland (0-1):

HIGHLAND (09-04-2020)
Highland was overmatched in a 31-0 loss to Crown Point, but they should bounce back on this night. West Side has some defensive issues, allowing 78 points in the Cougars' first two games. Highland should be able to run the ball on the Cougars.

Highland 28, West Side 6

Lake Central (1-1) at Portage (1-1):

PORTAGE (09-04-2020)
Both of these teams have been a tad inconsistent, to be kind. Portage is going to play high scoring, shootouts games all year. They have a lot of skill on offense and the defense needs time. LC shut out Munster, but was shut out by Andrean. I like Portage, but it’ll be close.

Portage 35, Lake Central 27

New Prairie (2-0) at Andrean (1-1):

MERRILLVILLE (09-04-2020)
Good one here. New Prairie’s defense has put the handcuffs on LaPorte 14-0 and Culver Academy 24-7. Andrean couldn’t handle 6A Merrillville, but they were up to the challenge of 6A Lake Central. Watching the 59ers, they are very impressive.

Andrean 30, New Prairie 21

Clay (1-1) at Munster (0-2):

MUNSTER (09-04-2020)
Munster needs a win badly. They’ve lost 13 in a row. But they get no sympathy from Clay which is only 6-66 since the start of the 2013 season. Clay’s win this year is 7-0 over Grace high of Osceola, a non-IHSAA school. Munster has lost 38-0 and 49-16. At home, and with Hobart, KV, Lowell and Andrean coming up, the Mustangs have to win this one. They just have to.

Munster 28, Clay 21

Western (2-0) at Rensselaer (1-1):

RENSSELAER (09-04-2020)
The Bombers turned back North Newton 45-16 last week to bounce back from the week one loss to KV. Western has outscored Kokomo 34-19 and small school power Western Boone 31-21 and they probably remember that Rensselaer beat them 28-14 last September. I still like Rensselaer. That loss to KV said a lot more about KV than it did the Bombers. Rensselaer wins a high scoring, close one.

Rensselaer 28, Western 24

Kankakee Valley (2-0) at (SB) Washington (0-2):

SOUTH BEND (09-04-2020)
It can be tough to go to South Bend and win, but Washington, usually a solid team has lost 33-0 to Adams (2-0) and 41-6 to Bremen (2-0). KV has allowed just seven points each to Rensselaer and Wheeler. The Kougars have not won their first three games of any season since 2012, but they will this year.

Kankakee Valley 27, Washington 7

Lake Station (0-2) at River Forest (1-1):

HOBART TOWNSHIP (09-04-2020)
The ‘Civil War’ sends Class 1A Lake Station to 2A River Forest. These two have met every year since 1961. Lake Station hasn’t won this matchup in six years, but they lost only 14-8 to Bowman Academy last week. River Forest rolled over Boone Grove 53-6 last week and junior QB Joey Ondo leads a good looking offense.

River Forest 35, Lake Station 13

Wheeler (1-1) at LOWELL (2-0):

CEDAR LAKE (09-04-2020)
Lowell graduate and 4th-year Wheeler coach Adam Hudak leads his Bearcats back down to Route 2 in a pandemic created, one-night only matchup with his old school. The Bearcats did not fare well at Kankakee Valley last week and it won't get easier here against a Lowell team that has defeated Class 6A schools Portage and Crown Point.

LOWELL 33, Wheeler 14


MERRILLVILLE (09-04-2020)
The game of the week matches arch-rivals Merrillville and Crown Point in a year when the Pirates will be favored in every game they play. Merrillville has stopped Class 4A No. 1 Hobart and Class 2A No. 4 Andrean, but the Crown Point defense has allowed just six points in two games. Last year for the sectional title it was Merrillville 10, Crown Point 9. Let me think a little on this one.

We’ll have a prediction by Thursday.

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Revised: September 02, 2020 .