Week 8 Picks - 2020 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

October 6, 2020


The 'stop light' is about to change for Whiting football. After seven weeks of being idle, the Oilers are back in the driver's seat against rival Griffith this Friday night. (Photo by Mark Smith)

Mr. Picker - WEEK (8) EIGHT:

MERRILLVILLE (10-09-2020)
The predictions I am about to make here all ignore one factor: The IHSAA draw for the 2020 state tournament will not be announced until Thursday.

Usually the pairings are announced on a Sunday but this is 2020 and we’re doing it a little differently.

I have said here before that I think the pairing should come out weeks earlier so teams can better prepare for who they’re facing. To announce pairings after the week eight games seems to put an unnecessary preparatory burden on the teams that must play in week 10.

I also like the pairing announcement on Thursdays to prevent teams from gathering in groups and having the traditional ‘pairings parties’ to await the matchups. That’s something that doesn’t need to happen in the Covid-19 era.

Understand that any positive tests after week eight eliminate anyone who tests positive from week 10. And if a scheduled team (Class 1A through Class 4A) cannot play in week 10 for Covid-19 reasons, their season is over.

That is the nightmare scenario. Teams that are scheduled to play on October 23-24 must play that weekend. Coaches need to ‘bubble wrap’ their boys to keep them virus-free.

I’m not going to pick Lowell and Munster here; the Mustangs are doing the best they can with a small roster. It’s a strong year in the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) and I’ll leave it at that.

Lake Central vs. Merrillville? The less said about that one, the better. And Rensselaer (4-3) hosts Northwestern (0-7). Northwestern has lost 18 games in a row. But first, a look back at Mr. Picker's Week-7 predictions, and how he did.

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-7, 2020 Football Picks in Review:
Oct. 2-3, 2020

Wrong - 2 Right - 7 = 77.7%

The Pick The Result

HANOVER 49, Bowman Academy 14  


Wheeler 42, Bishop Noll 6  

Wheeler 56-20

Chesterton 45, Lake Central 20  

Chesterton 42-0

Michigan City 35, Portage 21  

Michigan City 28-7

Hobart 24, Kankakee Valley 17  

Hobart 41-17

LOWELL 27, Highland 14  


River Forest 42, South Central 30  

River Forest 46-28

CROWN POINT 23, LaPorte 14  

(wrong) LaPorte 24-14

MERRILLVILLE 31, Bishop Chatard 20  

(wrong) Chatard 45-28

WEEK SEVEN (in review):
I didn’t have a good line on the Merrillville-Chatard game. Bishop Chatard gained 500 yards on a Merrillville defense that I thought was their strength. I obviously didn’t know how good Chatard was. Crown Point let the game get away at LaPorte, but the Slicers have improved from the first half of the season. Best pick? Either Lowell-Highland or River Forest-South Central. Both games went the way they should have, win-wise and score-wise.

‘Mr. Picker’ (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%
WEEK FIVE: 7 of 10, 70%
WEEK SIX: 5 of 7, 71.4%
WEEK SEVEN: 7 of 9, 77.7%
SEASON TOTAL (overall): 48 of 64, 75.0%

'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 (8) EIGHT:

River Forest (5-2) at Calumet (0-1):

GARY (10-09-2020)
This game is difficult to figure. Calumet got roasted, as expected 31-6 by Gibson Southern (4-3) in the Warriors’ 2020 season opener last Saturday and now they turn around and take on a River Forest team that has won five of their last six games. At the start of the season, I would not have given River Forest much chance to beat Calumet. Calumet stomped RF 44-0 last season and 30-0 in 2018. But now, the River-Calumet game is for the Greater South Shore Conference (GSSC) North division championship. Is River Forest a championship team??? Is it the year 2020? Can this be real? Are you with me???? Calumet’s not with me.

Calumet 26, River Forest 21

Boone Grove (1-5) at Lake Station (0-6):

LAKE STATION (10-09-2020)
This might be Lake Station’s last best chance to get a win this year. Boone scored 51 points against Bishop Noll, but have only put 38 points on the board in the other six games. The Eagles have lost to Bowman Academy 12-6 in overtime and they lost to Bishop Noll 64-54. Lake Station seniors have never beaten Boone, but I just don’t think they have the manpower to do it Friday.

Boone Grove 28, Lake Station 7

Griffith (3-2) at Whiting (0-0):
WHITING (10-09-2020)
This is the 2020 season opener for Whiting, which wanted to get back on the field after seven weeks of Covid-19 related inactivity. Griffith has won their last three games and they can win the Greater South Shore Conference (GSSC) South division title if they win their last two games. The big result for Whiting this week is probably the draw. Among the seven teams in Class 2A Sectional 33, Whiting could draw Bowman (1-5) or they could draw 2A No. 1 Andrean (6-1).

Griffith 35, Whiting 7

New Prairie (5-2) at Penn (3-4):
MISHAWAKA (10-09-2020)
The Cougars have won their last three after losing to Andrean (6-1) and Marian (6-0) and now they face area original gangster Penn and new sheriff Elkhart (6-0) in back-to-back games. Penn fans are spoiled. The Kingsmen are only under .500 due to losses to Valparaiso (3-0), Elkhart (6-0), Marian (6-0) and Cathedral (7-0). Penn has defeated every foe who is not undefeated so far.

Penn 31, New Prairie 27

Andrean (6-1) at Kankakee Valley (5-2):

WHEATFIELD (10-09-2020)
It's been a good season for the Kougars, but that freight train you hear in the distance is Andrean. They have won six in a row since a season-opening loss to Merrillville (5-1). The 59ers average 37 points a game and take away that opening night loss to Merrillville and Andrean is averaging 41.3 points a game. KV has winnable games ahead of them in October. This is not one of them.


Hanover Central (5-2) at Wheeler (4-2):
UNION TOWNSHIP (10-09-2020)
To win the Greater South Shore Conference (GSSC) South division, Wheeler must beat Hanover and Griffith back-to-back. But the Wildcats come to Wheeler averaging 45 points a game. On a good weather night, this has to be a high-scoring game. There’s no other way.

Hanover 46, Wheeler 35

Highland (3-3) at Hobart (4-2):
HOBART (10-09-2020)
I wasn’t sure I should even pick this game. The three teams that have defeated Highland (Crown Point, Andrean and Lowell) have totaled 1,000 yards rushing in those three games. Hobart gained 500 yards on Kankakee Valley last week and their QB Riley Johnston gained 116 yards on just nine carries. What can Highland do to stop the run that they didn’t do last week?

Hobart 30, Highland 7

LaPorte (2-5) at Michigan City (4-1):
MICHIGAN CITY (10-09-2020)
Can LaPorte slow MC’s 37-points-per-game offense? It's going to be difficult. Michigan City’s attack is very balanced and, on a good weather night, the Slicers need points to keep up. LaPorte hasn’t scored more than 28 in any game this fall, but they had their biggest win of the season, coming from behind to beat Crown Point last Friday 24-14. MC has scored 28 or more four times in five games. The day before this game is played, these two teams could be selected to face each other in the Class 5A Sectional 17 semifinals.

Michigan City 28, LaPorte 14

Portage (2-5) at Valparaiso (3-0):
VALPARAISO (10-09-2020)
Valpo hasn’t played in three weeks, which creates some curiosity here. But if the Vikes had minor injuries back in mid-September, they don’t have them now. The Indians are in a very difficult part of their schedule and they have lost four in a row. An upset would be a super boost two weeks before the sectionals, but Portage has lost 11 in a row on the road. To me, the lines benefit from bye weeks and Valparaiso’s strength is in their offensive and defensive lines.

Valparaiso 31, Portage 14

Chesterton (4-3) at CROWN POINT (3-3):
CROWN POINT (10-09-2020)
Chesterton has shut out Portage and Lake Central in back-to-back weeks and Crown Point only averages 16 points a game. But the Bulldogs’ defense has allowed more than 24 points just once this year and this is the final scheduled home game for a large group of seniors. I need more time here.

Check back with me Thursday to pick this one.

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Revised: October 06, 2020 .