Week 15 Picks - 2018 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

November 23, 2018


Last year it was Lowell vs. East Central in the Class 4A state title game. This year, it will be two other schools (Bishop Dwenger and Evansville Central) on the Lucas Oil Stadium scoreboard in downtown Indianapolis. (Photo by Mark Smith)

"Mr. Picker" - WEEK (14) FOURTEEN:

VALPARAISO (11-23-2018)
Northwest Indiana doesnít get a representative in the state finals and this is where our region drifts away.

In the old days (the 1990s), all of the state championship games were on free TV and it was something I took for granted.

But since the IHSAA made a deal with Fox Sports Indiana to air the games state wide, Northwest Indiana, which does not get Fox Sports Indiana, has been in the dark.

I know that you can dial up the finals on your computer and maybe Iím just getting old. But in the Ďold daysí, the state finals Friday and Saturday were like college football bowl games.

The local TV station (now Lakeshore Public Television) carried all the title games. All players and coaches could watch them easily. Now, just like in most new media, you have to make a concerted effort to find the broadcasts, an effort young people won't make.

So the habit of watching the state finals over Thanksgiving weekend on local TV drifted away.

We can watch all the Illinois state finals games live, but the Indiana finals are just a somewhat jumpy internet production.

So again. Just in case anybody wants to seek change. Up here in Northwest Indiana, we can not watch Fox Sports Indiana and we are left out of the TV airing of the football, baseball and basketball state finals. Maybe next year. Now, a review of week-14:

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-14, 2018 Football Picks in Review:
Nov. 16-17, 2018

Wrong - 4; Right - 12 = 66.7%

The Pick The Result

Lutheran 34, North Vermillion 27  

(wrong) North Vermillion 14-7

Pioneer 28, Adams Central 14  

Pioneer 38-7

Western Boone 24, Southridge 21  

Western Boone 48-7

Eastbrook 35, Bremen 20  

Eastbrook 34-33

Evansville Memorial 42, Bishop Chatard 28  

Memorial 42-17

Bishop Luers 35, West Lafayette 28  

(wrong) West Lafayette 27-14

Evansville Central 35, Marion 17  

Evansville Central 30-14

Mishawaka 28, Bishop Dwenger 21  

(wrong) Dwenger 24-6

Columbus East 35, Decatur Central 14  

(wrong) Decatur C. 27-24

New Palestine 42, Michigan City 21  

New Palestine 35-10

Warren Central 30, Center Grove 14  

Warren Central 27-20

Carmel 17, Valparaiso 14  

Carmel 14-10


Week Fourteen Review: One of the things you donít know at the semistate level is how you match up. Teams from the big school Indianapolis Metro Conference (like Carmel and Warren Central) can meet in the semistate and the state finals but it can't happen in most of the state. So when you have teams like Bishop Luers in the Eastern part of the state and West Lafayette in the western part of Indiana you donít really know about their relative strength and speed until the game begins. Thatís my excuse for thinking that Columbus East would win easily over Decatur Central, by the way.

BEST PICK: Probably Carmel over Valpo 17-14 when they won 14-10. Exactly the kind of game that those of us who have seen Valpo thought it would be.

WORST PICK: Probably Mishawaka to beat Bishop Dwenger 26-21 when Dwenger won 24-6. I got fooled watching how efficient Mishawaka was running the ball against Lowell. Dwenger is so hard to beat in the state tournament because they always seem to have good offensive and defensive lines. They were very young last year when Lowell denied them a trip to the finals. Didnít happen twice. I should have known the Saints would go marching in, so to speak.

ĎMr. Pickerí  2018 RESULTS
WEEK (14) 8 of 12 = 66.7%
WEEK (13) 11 of 14 = 78.5%
WEEK (12) 7 of 12 = 58.3%
WEEK (11) 15 of 16 = 93.7%
WEEK (10) 16 of 31 = 84.2%

WEEK (9) 8 of 12 = 75.0%
WEEK (8) 10 of 12 = 83.3%
WEEK (7) 10 of 12 = 83.3%
WEEK (6) 9 of 12 = 75.0%
WEEK (5) 8 of 12 = 66.7%
WEEK (4) 10 of 11 = 90.9%
WEEK (3) 9 of 13 = 69.2%
WEEK (2) 12 of 15 = 80.0%
WEEK (1) 10 of 13 = 76.1%

Playoffs (5 weeks) 57 of 73, 78.1%
Season Total (14 weeks): 143 of 185 = 77.3%

'Mr. Picker' (13 Years)
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' 2018 - WEEK (15) FIFTEEN:

Class 2A

No. 5 Eastbrook 13-1) vs. No. 1 Western Boone (14-0) 12 noon EST

INDIANAPOLIS (11-24-2018) Why is Western Boone 14-0? Offensively, Iím not sure. The numbers donít jump out at you except for QB Spencer Wright who is 120 of 185 for 2,139 yards and 27 TDs. But defensively, the Stars have allowed just 101 points in 14 games. Iíd like to see them stop Eastbrook, which runs the ball all day from a Wing-T double tight end formation. They have 5,000 yards rushing in 14 games. The backs aren't that big but they come from all angles. Eastbrook is 50-8 the last four years. Western Boone averages 42 points a game. This is a spread offense team (WB) against a run-first option team. Indoors, Iíll take the passing team.

Western Boone 38, Eastbrook 28

Class 4A

No. 8 Evansville Central (13-1) vs. No. 6 Bishop Dwenger (13-1)

INDIANAPOLIS (11-24-2018)
Dwenger is a big, strong, battle-tested team that plays a conservative style led by running brothers TJ (134 carries, 704 yards, 15 TDs) and Devon (194 carries, 1,198 yards) Tippmann. Central will hand the ball to 165-pound junior halfback Brennan Schutte (324 carries, 2,192 yards, 25 TDs) and the Bears hope to get Malcom DePriest (40 catches, 957 yards, 12 TDs) the ball. This is Dwengerís 10th state championship game and they are trying for their fifth title. This is the first-ever football state title game for Evansville Central. It should be close. But I think Dwenger has played a better schedule.

Bishop Dwenger 24, Evansville Central 17

Class 6A

No. 3 Carmel (12-1) vs. No. 1 Warren Central (13-0)

INDIANAPOLIS (11-23-2018)
Warren has beaten No. 4 North Central (9-3) twice and No. 7 Center Grove (9-4) twice. They also defeated Carmel 41-17 on October 5. Carmel obviously has a chance because this is a rematch and, with a strong roster physically they won't be intimidated by WC. But Warren is rated in the Top-10 nationally and they are a fast team that will be even faster indoors. All-state receiver David Bell was hurt in last weekís win over Center Grove. I don't know if heís playing. But Romier Elliott is. Elliott, a senior halfback, gained 341 yards on 25 carries in Warrenís win over CG. It's not proper to say this, but nobody wants to see two schools that play during the regular season every year meet in the state championship game. Much less two Indy-area teams. Carmel vs. Warren Central is hardly the champion of the north against the champion of the south, which, I believe, is what the IHSAA wants in the state finals. Itís understandably a big deal to those two schools and its a quality matchup. But it's hard for anyone else to care.

Warren Central 31, Carmel 14

Class 1A

No. 7 North Vermillion (13-1) vs. No. 1 Pioneer (14-0)

INDIANAPOLIS (11-23-2018)
Pioneer tries to put back-to-back 15-0 seasons in the record book in the final game for all-state quarterback/linebacker Jack Kiser, who has run for 1,874 yards, passed for 1,095 yards and has 147 tackles and seven interceptions on defense. Junior quarterback Brennan Ellis (6-1, 175) has 1,585 yards passing and 1060 yards rushing for NV. North Vermillion averages 31 points a game, but the Pioneer Panthers average 62 points a game and have allowed just 39 points all season in 14 games. It's hard to see them losing a high-scoring game. Pioneer is 56-2 the last four years but North Vermillion did beat Pioneer 27-26 in the 2013 state championship game.

Pioneer 38, North Vermillion 23

Class 3A

No. 2 West Lafayette (14-0) at No. 1 Evansville Memorial (14-0)

INDIANAPOLIS (11-24-2018)
Top two teams. Obviously, the only two undefeated teams left. Nobody got here easily. West Lafayette has defeated No. 10 Bishop Luers (9-5), No. 6 Brebeuf (10-3) and No. 4 Andrean (10-2). Memorial has eliminated No. 8 Gibson Southern (9-3), No. 7 Brownstown Central (11-2) and No. 5 Bishop Chatard (11-3). West Lafayette QB Kent Adams has thrown for 3,400 yards and 45 TDs, but Memorial QB Mike Lindauer has thrown for 3,518 yards (222 of 332) and 46 TDs. Branson Combs has caught 67 passes for 21 TDs. Playing indoors for the first time, I donít think either defense can stop these passers. This game should be worth the price of admission. Or cable. Or Facebook. Or whatever you can get.

Evansville Memorial 49, West Lafayette 35

Class 5A

No. 2 Decatur Central (12-1) at No. 1 New Palestine (13-0)

INDIANAPOLIS (11-24-2018) Again, the top-2 teams, although I donít know how Decatur was second-ranked over Columbus East. Decatur halfback Kenny Tracy has scored 31 TDs and QB Parker Harrington has thrown for 1,500 yards and 20 TDs. But New Palestine has scored four TDs in every game and they rolled over Michigan City 35-10 at the semistate. New Palestine has been No. 1 all season and they are led by hard running Charlie Spegal (5-11, 220), who has not yet been stopped. Spegal has run 291 times for 3,130 yards and a state record 68 TDs. QB Zach Neligh has thrown for 1,500 yards and run for 1,000 more. Decatur will score and they may lead early on. But New Palestine simply has not yet been stopped and I donít see it here.

New Palestine 35, Decatur Central 20

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Revised: November 24, 2018 .