Week 15 Picks - 2016 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

November 23, 2016

The 12 state high school football finalists will be glad to be indoors with temperatures in the low 40s this week in Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Colts play Thursday and the high schools play Friday and Saturday in the Lucas Oil Arena. (Photo by Mark Smith)

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-14, 2016 Football Picks in Review:
Nov. 18-19, 2016

Wrong - 6; Right - 6 = 50.0%

The Pick The Result

Linton Stockton 35, Lutheran 20  

Linton 43-14

Adams Central 34, Pioneer 20  

(wrong) Pioneer 22-8

Monrovia 28, Ritter 20  

(wrong) Ritter 14-13

Whiting 20, Eastbrook 14  

(wrong) Eastbrook 20-13

Lawrenceburg 28, Brownstown 21  

Lawrenceburg 41-40

Concordia 31, Garrett 14  

Concordia 56-42

Roncalli 27, East Central 12  

Roncalli 24-21

LOWELL 42, Northwood 28  

(wrong) Northwood 21-14

Bloomington So. 28, Columbus East 20  

(wrong) Columbus East 35-13

Westfield 27, Snider 20  

Westfield 23-17

Center Grove 28, Ben Davis 21  

Center Grove 42-22

Penn 20, Carmel 13  

(wrong) Carmel 21-10


WEEK (14) FOURTEEN (6 of 12, 50.0%)
WEEK (13) THIRTEEN (8 of 12, 66.7%)
WEEK (12) TWELVE (9 of 12, 75.0%)
WEEK (11) ELEVEN (13 of 16, 81.4%)
WEEK (10) TEN (19 of 20, 95.0%)
WEEK (9) NINE (6 of 10, 60.0%)

WEEK (8) EIGHT (8 of 10, 80.0%)

WEEK (7) SEVEN (7 of 10, 70.0%)

WEEK (6) SIX (5 of 10, 50.0%)
WEEK (5) FIVE (5 of 10, 50.0%)
WEEK (4) FOUR (7 of 10, 70.0%)
WEEK (3) THREE (7 of 10, 70.0%)
WEEK (2) TWO (7 of 10, 70.0%)
WEEK (1) ONE (7 of 12, 58.3%)
PLAYOFFS: (55 of 72, 76.3%)
SEASON TO DATE: (114 of 164, 69.5%)

ANALYSIS: Okay. 6 of 12 is just plain bad. What happened? Any team even remotely in this area (Lowell, Whiting, Pioneer) - I got their games wrong, although I'd pick Whiting and Lowell to win those games again if they played again tomorrow. Penn over Carmel was apparently a leap of faith. And Ritter over Monrovia is a just an upset.

WORST PICK: Bloomington South over Columbus East 28-20 and East winning 35-13. I'm not sure how that one swung so hard the other way. Columbus East was a 5-point favorite on the computer.

BEST PICK: Westfield over Top-ranked Snider 27-20 and the final was 23-17. Pretty close and it was No.5 over No. 1.


'Mr. Picker' (Through the Years)
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 2016 WEEK (15) FIFTEEN:

The state finals are a messy week for everybody who has anything to do with the finalists. It's tough for the teams that play state championship games Friday (2A, 4A and 6A) because most have to travel a long way. And everybody loses Thursday, which is the Thanksgiving holiday because the IHSAA does not allow practice on holidays.

Now, I've heard rumors that boys on state finals teams occasionally get together on their own on Thanksgiving and toss the ball around and walk through 'dance steps' resembling plays on Thanksgiving Day. But, of course, those rumors must be false because you are simply not allowed to practice on Thanksgiving. I shouldn't even have thought it was even worth mentioning, seeing as how illegal it is...

State finals tickets are a significantly better deal than semistate tickets ($10) because state finals tickets are $15 per day, which means you get to see three games indoors for $15. Plus, you don't sit in 35-degree weather like you do at the Illinois state finals.

For TV of the finals, you're going to have to find Fox Sports Indiana, which is only on satellite in NW Indiana. The 1A, 2A, 3A , 4A and 5A games will be carried live. The 6A game will be live on Fox Sports Plus which, you guessed it, is not available in NW Indiana. On cable, the finals may be aired on Channel 413, a national channel picking up the Indianapolis area feed. You can watch the games on the IHSAA 'Champions Network' feed on the IHSAA web site. But it's sometimes difficult to watch and isn't always a solid feed. The games will rerun on some of the Fox Sports channels Sunday and next week and all six games will run Christmas Eve on Fox Sports Pacific, again, if you can find it.

And yes, I do wish for the old days, when all Indianapolis championship action was on the old Channel 56 (now Lakeshore Public Broadcasting), which no longer carries any live high or taped high school sports action. I think I need five of six here to finish at 70% on the season.


No. 3 Eastbrook (13-1) vs. No. 5 Cardinal Ritter (10-4):

(2A) INDIANAPOLIS (11-25-2016)
The Class 2A final was supposed to be Whiting and Monrovia as it was in 2015. But both got beat in the semifinals. Eastbrook halfback Davon Wallace has 18 TDs and they jumped on Whiting 13-0 early in the semistate and held on. The defense has not allowed more than 28 points in any game. Ritter, a four-time state champ, is averaging only 22 points a game, but they have nine wins in a row and are virtually playing at home. Ritter's 215-pound tailback Avery Hall has rushed for 1,900 yards. This is one of those long standing 'Mr. Picker' rules. Do not go against Indianapolis area private schools late in the state tournament. They win most of the football state titles. I like Ritter in a close game.

Ritter 28, Eastbrook 21

No. 2 Northwood (14-0) vs. No. 1 Roncalli (14-0):

(4A) INDIANAPOLIS (11-25-2016)
As much as I like Lowell (which lost to Northwood last Friday), we did get a rare 1-2 state finals matchup here. I like Ritter in a close game. An eight-time state champ, Roncalli is one of the charter members of the Indianapolis 'Catholic Football Mafia', which dominates the Indiana state tournament. But they needed a a 30-yard kick by Pat Sandler to win 24-21 last week. QB Derek O'Connor (148 of 242, 1,850 yards, 17 TDs) was 18 of 26 for 216 yards in the cold. Northwood QB Trey Bilinski (194 of 329, 3,183 yards) completed only five passes last week at Lowell, but he has 39 TD tosses on the season. He should be much better indoors. An oddity: In 1993, Northwood lost the 3A state title 14-12 to Roncalli. Present day Northwood coach Nate Andrews played in that game for his father, longtime coach Jim Andrews. Roncalli coach Jim Scifres was the head coach that day as well. When you start facing head coaches who played against you early in your career, that's how you know you're old. You should never pick against an Indy area private school. They dominate IHSAA football.

Roncalli 31, Northwood 20

No. 7 Carmel (9-4) vs. No. 3 Center Grove (12-1):

(6A) INDIANAPOLIS (11-25-2016)
Carmel was 4-4 and now they've won five in a row, including a 21-10 victory over undefeated Penn last week. Center Grove beat Penn 28-16 for the title last year. Have I mentioned before how boring these 6A Indy area finals are? Center Grove and Penn play during the regular season. This is a rematch of a game won by CG 19-6 in early September and these are the second place and fourth place teams in Indianapolis' Metro (Metropolitan) Conference. The 6A bracket has to be constructed to teams in the same league are not in different halves of the state bracket.
I accept that there are few Class 6A size teams outside the Indy area, but that, to me, means that the 'dividing line' for north and south has to be moved north of Indy. Halfback Russ Yeast (174 carries, 1,472 yards, 19 TDs) of Center Grove takes on a Carmel defense that has allowed 20 points a game. This should be a defensive struggle and one that is of no interest to anyone outside the Metro Conference.

Center Grove 20, Carmel 10

No. 3 Pioneer (14-0) vs. No. 1 Linton-Stockton (14-0):

(1A) INDIANAPOLIS (11-26-2016)
This Saturday morning game features sophomore Pioneer QB Jack Kiser (70 of 122, 1,209 yards, 24 TDs, 3 Interceptions) who has run 198 times for 1,576 yards and 33 TDs. Kiser (6-2, 192) has had a hand in 57 TDs. But Linton-Stockton senior Tyler Meuere (53 of 109, 1,307 yards, 20 TDs, one interception) has run 99 times for 1,638 yards and 28 TDs so he's had a hand in 48 touchdowns. I did not know that the Linton-Stockton Miners, who are 72-7 the last six seasons, have never won a state title even though they have won 14 sectionals and 10 regionals. That's a long walk to the store without anything to take home. This is the first meeting of these two tiny public schools and this may be the best game of the weekend.

Linton 45, Pioneer 34

Lawrenceburg (13-1) vs. No. 7 (Fort Wayne) Concordia (12-2):

(3A) INDIANAPOLIS (11-26-2016)
Here's two more teams that have never met (which adds something to the finals) and one team that simply tries to outscore you. Concordia Lutheran has averaged 42 points a game and they have scored 264 points (52.8) in five playoff games. Concordia QB Peter Morrison (226 of 340, 3,615 yards, 46 TDs, four interceptions) won't be stopped indoors. Mark Mallers (61 catches, 1,117 yards, 24 TDs) and and Colton Grahovac (64 catches, 1,050 yards) are looking forward to playing where it's warm. Lawrenceburg won two state titles in the 1970s but it's been a long time (1985) since they've won a regional. Two Lawrenceburg kids stand out: QB Reid Strobl (97 of 153, 2,169 yards 28 TDs) and 220-pound running back Austin Bowling, who has 3,016 yards (11th highest total all-time) and 52 touchdowns on 359 carries. Outdoors, I'd take Lawrenceburg. Inside, it's Concordia.

Concordia 41, Lawrenceburg 28

No. 4 Columbus East (13-1) vs. No. 5 Westfield (11-2):

(5A) INDIANAPOLIS (11-26-2016)
Columbus East has won 12 in a row and they average 46 points a game, but Westfield has faced a tougher schedule and nobody has scored more than 29 on them. Westfield has eliminated No. 9 Kokomo, No. 7 McCutcheon and No. 1 Snider in the last three weeks. But East did roll all over No. 3 Bloomington South 35-15 last week. East halfback Jamon Hogan has rushed for 2,200 yards and 39 TDs and he runs behind all-state guard Harry Crider (6-4, 265). But Westfield has two one-point losses or they'd be 13-0. This one is too close to call. All of Saturday's games match schools which have never met.

Westfield 28, Columbus East 27

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Revised: November 23, 2016 .