Week 9 Picks - 2020 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

October 12, 2020

 

The Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) championship will be decided on the field Friday night at Father Eckert Stadium in Merrillville when 2A No. 1 Andrean hosts 4A No. 6 Lowell. (Photo by Mark Smith)

Mr. Picker - WEEK (9) NINE:

MERRILLVILLE (10-16-2020)
Before we get to the local matchups, this month’s ‘Game of the Century’ occurs down in Marion County Friday when 12-time state champion and Indianapolis Catholic superpower Class 5A No. 1 Cathedral (8-0) takes the short ride to Johnson County (south suburban Indianapolis) to face nationally-ranked (USA Today No. 12) Class 6A No. 1 Center Grove (8-0).

Center Grove, the so-called greatest Indiana high school team of all time, has allowed just 50 points all season and crushed superpower Carmel 42-0. Cathedral (8-0), which plays schools from Ohio because most Indiana schools wont play them, beat Westfield 56-20. Westfield (7-1), has not lost since that night. In September, Cathedral ran by Bishop Chatard 39-20. Chatard (7-1) has not lost other than that night.

Center Grove has shut out four of the eight teams they’ve faced, but Cathedral defeated perennial power Penn 52-7. If a Northwest Indiana team (or a team from any other part of the state) wants to win a state championship it had better be in Classes 1A through 4A because 5A Cathedral and 6A Center Grove are prohibitive favorites to win the 5A and 6A.

For this week, Hobart (5-2) at Munster (1-6) is not close. Neither is Valparaiso (4-0) at Lake Central (1-7). And Bishop Noll (1-7) just doesn’t have the manpower to stay close to Calumet. Wins and losses only matter so much this week. Everybody who finishes the week without a positive Covid-19 test in the program is a big winner.

Now, a look back at Mr. Picker's Week-8 predictions, and how he did.

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-8, 2020 Football Picks in Review:
Oct. 9-10, 2020

Wrong - 1 Right - 8 = 88.8%

The Pick The Result

Calumet 26, River Forest 21  

Calumet 32-14

Boone Grove 28, Lake Station 7  

Boone Grove 53-0

Griffith 35, Whiting 7  

Griffith 49-12

Penn 31, New Prairie 27  

Penn 42-3

ANDREAN 28, KV 14  

ANDREAN 35-7

Hanover 46, Wheeler 35  

HANOVER 49-13

Hobart 30, Highland 7  

Hobart 44-6

Michigan City 28, LaPorte 14  

(wrong) LaPorte 14-13 (OT)

Valparaiso 31, Portage 14  

Valparaiso 41-7

WEEK EIGHT (in review):
Nine picks. Eight wins. LaPorte (3-5) with two upsets in a row over Crown Point and Michigan City.

‘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%
WEEK SEVEN: 8 of 9, 88.8%
SEASON TOTAL (overall): 56 of 73, 76.7%

'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 (9) NINE:

Kankakee Valley (5-3) at Highland (4-4):

HIGHLAND (10-16-2020)
It's been a tough three weeks for KV, losing to state-rated Lowell, Hobart and Andrean. But they’ll get no sympathy from Highland, which has also lost to Lowell (7-0), Hobart (5-2) and Andrean (7-1) in the last four weeks. KV, which has not won a sectional in 35 years, needs a victory before they start Sectional 18 where they are at least a co-favorite. But the Trojans close the regular season with KV and then they host Griffith to start the post-season. Two victories and the Highland Trojans are a winning team for just the second time in 19 years.

Kankakee Valley 23, Highland 17


Wheeler (5-3) at Griffith (4-2):

GRIFFITH (10-16-2020)
The Bearcats had won four in a row until they were shut down last week by Hanover Central. Griffith has won four in row going into this week. I'm not sure if Griffith QB Carson Crowe will be back this week. He’s been hurt. Wide receiver Kyle Atkinson took over at QB last week and ran the ball 11 times for 170 yards in the win over Whiting. Wheeler halfback Trey Gibson has 1,065 yards and 15 TDs on just 137 carries. But I think Griffith is very confident right now.

Griffith 30, Wheeler 20


Whiting (0-1) at Boone Grove (2-6):

PORTER TOWNSHIP (10-16-2020)
Boone has won big over Lake Station (0-7) and Bishop Noll (1-5). Whiting just began the season last week. Accepting that the Oilers will play better in, what for them is week two, can they stay close to Boone, which defeated Whiting twice last season? Boone drew Class 2A No. 1 Andrean (7-1), so this is their last chance to win this season.

Boone Grove 35, Whiting 14


Pioneer (7-1) at North Judson (7-1):

NORTH JUDSON (10-16-2020) The ‘Sons of the Pioneers’ will ride into Starke County for a second time this fall. Class 2A No. 3 Pioneer defeated Knox 38-20 two weeks ago and now they face Class 1A No. 9 Judson. Pioneer freshman quarterback Cayden Hill leads a team that rushes for 300 yards a game, while the Blue Jays are coming off a hard fought 9-7 win over rival LaVille (4-1). I don’t think this game is close.

Pioneer 35, North Judson 14


HANOVER CENTRAL (6-2) at South Central (4-4):

UNION MILLS (10-16-2020)
First of all, after Friday’s game, these boys should all get T-shirts that say "We survived 2020!" because both schools were able to complete their scheduled nine game regular season. Hanover turned down any challenge from Wheeler 49-13 last week. They dominated that game and I was surprised. But the ‘Union (Mills) Army’ averaged 35 points a game and they’ve lost to Hanover five years in a row. Isn’t it about time that South Central defeated Hanover Central???? No, it isn’t.

HANOVER 35, South Central 21


Portage (2-6) at LaPorte (3-5):

LaPORTE (10-16-2020)
The LaPorte defense has six pass interceptions in the last two games, come-from-behind wins over Crown Point and Michigan City. Portage is carrying the heavy weight of the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) schedule, losing the last five weeks. The Slicers drew Munster (1-7) in Class 5A Sectional 9 so their season is going to spill into November. Portage drew superpower Elkhart (6-0) in the Class 6A Sectional 2 semifinals so this is probably their last chance for a win this year.

LaPorte 27, Portage 20


Rensselaer (5-3) at Western (7-1):

RENSSELAER (10-16-2020)
Western smoked out Rensselaer 33-14 back in September and the two teams meet again Friday. The Bombers have been on the rise since the big loss, taking four of their last five games including back-to-back 56-0 shutouts of winless Benton Central (0-8) and Northwestern (0-8). Will this Friday’s game be closer? Yes. Will Western win again. Probably, yes. This is the third place game in the Hoosier Conference, although I’m not sure why undefeated East Division champion Western (7-1, 4-0 in conference play) is not playing for the league championship.

Western 28, Rensselaer 21


LOWELL (7-0) at ANDREAN (7-1):

MERRILLVILLE (10-16-2020)
Andrean takes the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) with a victory. Lowell makes the 59ers share the title if they win on the road. Can the 59ers defense, which has allowed 13 points a game, stop Lowell from running the ball and controlling the clock? Remember, even though you’ll see Lowell listed as having a 2-5 record (with 5 forfeits), the Devils have not lost on the field. Andrean lost on opening night to Merrillville, but have laid the smack down on everybody they’ve faced since then. I can't pick this game just yet.

Get back to me on Thursday.


Morton (2-0) at Gavit (2-0):

HAMMOND (10-16-2020)
The unofficial Hammond world championship and Gavit’s final regular season home game ever. Morton hasn’t lost to a Hammond school in four years, but Gavit has turned back Clark and Hammond to get to the city ‘title game’. Gavit is 11-5 in the month of October in the last five years. Morton has won 13 games in a row against Hammond schools. The last Hammond team to beat Morton? It was Gavit, 30-7 at Gavit the night of October 21, 2016.

Morton 28, Gavit 26


MERRILLVILLE (6-1) at Chesterton (4-3):

CHESTERTON (10-16-2020)
Merrillville has been the law against all Northwest Indiana foes, but now they head for the open plains of Porter County to face outlaw quarterback Chris Mullen (102 of 180, 1,395 yards) and a Chesterton squad that has not lost to an unranked team. Merrillville QB Angel Nelson has thrown for 15 TDs, but Chesterton has allowed just 15 points a game this season and once you travel to Royal Center (Pioneer), you aren’t afraid of anything.

MERRILLVILLE 34, Chesterton 21


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Revised: October 14, 2020 .