Week 5 Picks - 2020 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

September 16, 2020


The only way Hobart lets you into the end zone is if it is the 'End Zone' bar and grill in downtown Hobart. On the football field, the Brickies have seven shutouts in the last two seasons. Undefeated Lowell wants to do something about that in the feature game of the week Friday night in south Lake County. (Photo by Mark Smith)

Mr. Picker - WEEK (5) FIVE:

MERRILLVILLE (9-18-2020)
The Indianapolis city showdown between 5A No. 1 Cathedral and 3A No. 1 Bishop Chatard went to Cathedral 39-20, a game that might not have been that close.

Meanwhile, the defending 5A champ New Palestine lost for the first time in two years, 35-22 at 4A No. 2 Mount Vernon (4-0). The wildest game of the week saw 6A No. 6 (Lafayette) Jefferson (4-0) survive against cross town rival Harrison by the unlikely score of 76-55. Jeff does this. Last year they beat West Lafayette 74-66 and Anderson 69-13. I donít know who Thomas Hogan (5-8, 175) is but the senior running back has carried the ball 102 times this year for 1,051 yards and 17 touchdowns. In the game against Harrison (2-2), Jeff rushed for 700 yards and Hogan carried 32 times for 474 yards and a school record nine TDs. Last week was the third time Hogan ran for over 200 yards. Harrison had defeated Logansport 54-0 the week before so they werenít just a popcorn opponent.

Whatís going on here? Northwest Indiana minds want to know because Jefferson (4-0) is in Class 6A Sectional with Lake Central, Crown Point and Merrillville late next month. Note to all the football folks in Hammond who were upset because virus concerns pushed local health officials to cancel their fall sports (including football) this season: The present is bleak, but the future may be bright. Hammond people are aware that Gavit, Clark, Morton and Hammond consolidate into Morton and the new Hammond high in the fall of 2021. Not everybody is happy about that, but it may work out on the football field.

Look to the east where the consolidated Elkhart high school rolls on. The 6A school that was formed when Elkhart Memorial and Elkhart Central joined forces, is undefeated after a 57-6 win over (South Bend) Washington last week. Next up is the first ever meeting the Elkhart Lions and Penn (2-2).

Up this week is Kankakee Valley (4-0) at home to Munster (1-3). No contest there. And Iím not sure Winamac has a good chance against North Judson (3-1) so Iíll decline to predict that one. Let's pick 11 games this week to make up for the virus cancelled pick (Michigan City vs. Valparaiso) last week. But first, a look back at Mr. Picker's Week-4 predictions, and how he did.

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-4, 2020 Football Picks in Review:
Sept. 11-12, 2020

Wrong - 0 Right - 9 = 100.0%

The Pick The Result

Knox 28, North Judson 20  

Knox 14-0

MERRILLVILLE 30, Portage 14  


Rensselaer 34, Munster 20  

Rensselaer 38-0

Hanover Central 49, River Forest 21  

Hanover 49-14

Wheeler 31, South Central 24  

Wheeler 41-21

Andrean 35, East Chicago 13  

Andrean 47-0

Boone Grove 28 Bishop Noll 21  

Boone Grove 51-20

LOWELL 32, Griffith 14  

LOWELL 47-28

Valparaiso 31, Michigan City 21  

Valpo-MC (game canceled)

CROWN POINT 27, Lake Central 14  


WEEK FOUR (in review):
Okay, technically, I only got nine of 10 picks right. The Michigan City-Valparaiso game, obviously, wasnít played due to Covid-19 virus issues. But since the game was scheduled, I am going to give myself a break in the pandemic era, and take that game off the board, giving me a perfect 9-for-9 week. The best pick? Probably Knox over undefeated North Judson was the only surprise.

ĎMr. Pickerí (by the week)
WEEK ONE: 6 of 9, 66.6%
WEEK TWO: 6 of 10, 60.0%
WEEK THREE: 8 of 10, 80.0%
WEEK FOUR: 9 of 9, 100%

SEASON TOTAL (overall): 29 of 38, 76.3%

'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 (5) FIVE:

Hanover Central (3-1) at Griffith (0-2):

GRIFFITH (09-18-2020)
Watch this one. Hanover has scored at least 40 in every game, but Griffithís losses are to Hobart (3-1) and Lowell (4-0). Griffith might be outmanned on the lines here. Hanover has shown strength up front. This looks like a high scoring game, but Hanover seems ready to take their show on the road.

Hanover Central 42, Griffith 28

East Chicago (0-1) at River Forest (2-2):

HOBART TOWNSHIP (09-18-2020)
Throw out East Chicagoís 47-0 loss to 2A No. 1 Andrean last week. That was ECís first game. River Forest got stomped 49-14 at Hanover Central last week, but this game should be close. Riverís wins are over Boone (1-3) and Lake Station (0-4), but theyíve moved the ball on everybody. I just donít know what East Chicago has. This will be an upset.

River Forest 27, East Chicago 21

Bishop Noll (0-2) at Lake Station (0-4):

LAKE STATION (09-18-2020)
If you like points, youíve got to go see this one. Last year, both sides were trying to break multi-year losing streaks. Noll hasnít won a game since 2014 and they didnít even field a team in 2018. Donít be fooled by the fact that Lake Station has scored just 26 points all year. Last year, Lake Station was 0-4 and had scored just six points all season heading into the Noll game. Final score one year ago: Lake Station 50, Bishop Noll 41. Youíve got to go see this one.

Lake Station 38, Bishop Noll 28

(South Bend) Riley (1-3) at Gary West Side (1-3):

GARY (09-18-2020)
Both teams won for the first time last week. West Side topped Bowman 46-8 and Riley knocked down Clay 45-8. Both city teams that hit on hard times. I donít know who West Sideís Payton Jordan is, but he gained 191 yards on 13 carries last week. The Cougars have moved the ball on everyone theyíve played. Stopping them was the problem. Riley has lost to Adams (3-1), John Glenn (2-1) and Michigan City (2-1). They arenít bad. I like the visitors from South Bend in this one.

South Bend Riley 34, Gary West Side 20

Highland (2-1) at Andrean (3-1):

HIGHLAND (09-18-2020)
Highland has been able to run the ball on Lake Station and Gary West Side, producing two lop-sided wins. But the opponent is far different this Friday. Andrean, which has defeated Highland four years in a row, lost to Merrillville and rolled over East Chicago, Lake Central and New Prairie by a combined score of 117-14. Weíll know about this one early. Can Highland keep the ball, keep the clock running and shorten the game? I don't think they can.

Andrean 35, Highland 14

Boone Grove (1-3) at Wheeler (2-2):

UNION TOWNSHIP (09-18-2020)
Boone got on the board last week in a 51-20 confidence-builder against Bishop Noll. But Wheeler has losses to Lowell (4-0) and Kankakee Valley (4-0) that might have been confidence-builders as well. The Bearcats havenít won more than six games in a season since 2015, but there are five games left on their schedule they could (if not should) win.

Wheeler 28, Boone Grove 14

West Lafayette (3-1) at Rensselaer (2-2):

RENSSELAER (09-18-2020)
Just when you start thinking youíre pretty good, here comes the Ďbig boysí from out of town. West Lafayette, led by big boy quarterback Colin Martin (6-0, 215) has scored at least 40 points in each of their last three games, all wins. The only loss was to Lafayette super-power Jefferson (4-0). Rensselaer had a 38-0 confidence-builder last week against Munster, but they know West Lafayette usually brings the pain. The last five scores in this series are 44-6, 69-14, 55-6, 48-16 and 55-0 and the Hometown Bombers did not come out on the sunny side of any of those Friday fun nights. Rensselaer has rushed for 250 yards a game and, even though theyíve thrown the ball a little more than usual this year, thatís their hope. Can they run the ball and shorten the game? Not for four quarters.

West Lafayette 31, Rensselaer 20

Chesterton (2-2) at Valparaiso (2-0):

VALPARAISO (09-18-2020)
One of the deciding games in the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) sends Chesterton and junior quarterback Chris Mullen (48 of 101, 705 yards passing and 36 of 80, 463 rushing) to Valpo where no one has scored as many as 30 points on the Vikings in four years. Chestertonís record is misleading. The Trojans have lost to 4A No. 4 Hobart (3-1) and 2A No. 3 Pioneer (3-1). Chesterton is 2-0 in the DAC and this is their chance to make a move on the league championship. But the Vikings have won 18 DAC games in a row. Everybody thinks they can beat them until the game starts.

Valparaiso 27, Chesterton 17

LaPorte (0-4) at Lake Central (1-3):

ST. JOHN (09-18-2020)
Lake Central has only scored seven points in their last three games, but LaPorte is allowing 32 points a game. LaPorte has won this game the last four seasons and this is the first team with a losing record the Slicers have played. But Lake Central has too many skilled offensive players to be scoring so few points. I think they break out here.

Lake Central 31, LaPorte 16

Hobart (3-1) at LOWELL (4-0):

LOWELL (09-18-2020)
Get your tickets in advance for this matchup of 4A Top-10 teams. Hobart has allowed four touchdowns all season and they have not given up a passing TD, most likely due to their top flight pass rush. Lowell has allowed just 15 points a game and the Devil boys donít have to be reminded that they lost to Hobart twice last season. Neither one of these teams likes to throw a lot, so this one won't take long. Iím not sure. I need some time. Check back with me Thursday for this pick.

9-17-2020 Game Cancellation Announcement: Lowell High School Athletic Director Patti McCormack, in a press release to media outlets, today announced: "Late today Lowell High School was informed of a positive case within the varsity football team. Contact tracing resulted in 15 members of the team being quarantine effective today. Additionally five members were already in quarantine. A decision was made that Lowell could not safely field a varsity team for this week's game vs. Hobart. While both the Brickies and the Red Devils are disappointed in not playing tomorrow, as members of the NCC athletic conference, this decision was made for the safety of ALL players."

Portage (2-2) at CROWN POINT (2-2):

CROWN POINT (09-18-2020)
Portage and Crown Point have both lost to Lowell (4-0) and Merrillville (4-0) and defeated Lake Central (1-3). Portage nipped Hanover 42-40 in their other contest while CP won at Highland 31-0. Portageís 25-points-per game offense against a CP defense that has allowed just 14 points a game. This should be close.

CROWN POINT 26, Portage 21

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Revised: September 21, 2020 .