Week 8 Picks - 2019 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

October 7, 2019

As we get deep into October, the sun sets well before kickoff on Northwest Indiana Fridays and every game is a "night game." (Photo by Mark Smith)


Mr. Picker - WEEK (8) EIGHT:

VALPARAISO (10-11-2019)
October changes the game aesthetically for Indiana high school football in Northwest Indiana in more ways than one.

In the Central time zone, games that were beginning in blazing sunshine in August and fiery sunsets in September, now begin in darkness. Downstate, and in the Eastern time zone, 7 p.m. is 6 p.m. (region time) and they are still kicking off in the setting sun.

Gone also is the 70-degree comfort at kickoff. Fans are tested because you have to sit in artificial light and cool breezes to back your boys. By the way, I’ve always thought that schools should schedule their Homecoming game in early September when it's still warm.

Formal wear and halftime king and queen ceremonies always go better if it's not 50 degrees. But other than that, cooler weather and games beginning in darkness does not affect the playing of football. In fact, smaller schools clearly benefit from colder weather because it aids boys who play on both offense and defense. They stay stronger.

Smaller schools need two-way players to succeed.

Beyond that, (and this is debatable) the atmosphere of a big game is heightened when it's dark before the kickoff. There’s more drama.

I like that.

Remind me what I said here in the middle of next month when winter starts knocking on our door.

For week eight, let's leave out Munster (0-7) at Hobart (5-2). I'm afraid the Mustangs are going winless this year. Also Rensselaer (5-2) should find success in Howard County against Northwestern (0-7). We don't have to pick that one, either. This is somewhat of a ‘down’ week for matchups. The biggest result this weekend will occur Sunday when the state tournament pairings are announced.

Now, let's recap last week's results for 'Mr. Picker.'

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-7, 2019 Football Picks in Review:
Oct. 4-5, 2019

Wrong - 1; Right - 9 = 90.0%

The Pick The Result

Andrean 27, KV 10  

Andrean 30-13

Hanover 28, Whiting 20  

Hanover 40-0

Hobart 27, Highland 14  

Hobart 35-0

River Forest 28, South Central 20  

River Forest 20-10

Chesterton 35, Lake Central 14  

Chesterton 38-0

Portage 20, Michigan City 14  

(wrong) Mich. City 28-0

LOWELL 35, Munster 0  

LOWELL 48-13

CROWN POINT 21, LaPorte 7  

CP 21-10

New Prairie 28, Penn 21  

New Prairie 21-17

Valparaiso 27, Merrillville 14  

Valparaiso 29-28

‘Mr. Picker’ (by the week)
WEEK ONE: 9 of 15, 60.0%
WEEK TWO: 8 of 12, 66.7%
WEEK THREE: 6 of 12, 50.0%
WEEK FOUR: 10 of 10, 100.0%
WEEK FIVE: 8 of 10, 80.0%
WEEK SIX: 5 OF 10, 50%
WEEK SEVEN: 9 OF 10, 90%
SEASON TOTAL: 55 of 79, 69.6%

ANALYSIS: If I would have just gotten up off of my season-long love of Portage I’d have been perfect last week. I saw Portage win one game five weeks ago and I was obviously convinced they are better than they are. Some of these games were not deeply in doubt, but CP winning 21-10 when the pick was 21-7 and the 35-point gap in the Lowell-Munster game... Those were pretty good.
Time to get over 70% this week.

'Mr. Picker' (13 Years)
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 2019 WEEK (8) EIGHT:

Calumet (5-1) at River Forest (4-3):

HOBART TOWNSHIP (10-11-2019)
River Forest has not had a winning season since 2011. But look out. The Ingots have won three in a row and here comes Calumet, which has shut out the last three teams they’ve played. River Forest and Calumet are in the same sectional so the Warriors may get two chances to cross the ‘river’.

Calumet 35, River Forest 21

South Central (1-6) at Bishop Noll (0-2):

HAMMOND (10-11-2019)
To review... Noll didn't play last year because they reportedly only had 17 boys come out for football. This fall, on the comeback trail, they played some junior varsity games in August and September. In the last two weeks, Noll has returned to the varsity level, losing to Lake Station 50-41 and Wheeler 63-13. In their final home game, can the Warriors pull the upset of a South Central team that has lived at the intersection of hard luck hard times all season? Probably not.

South Central 35, Bishop Noll 28

Wheeler (4-3) at HANOVER CENTRAL (4-3):

CEDAR LAKE (10-11-2019)
Boone is going to win the South Division of the Greater South Shore Conference (GSSC), but Hanover can finish in second place with a win Friday. Wheeler finishes second if they win their last two games. Wheeler has won this matchup the last two seasons, but this is Hanover’s Homecoming and the seniors would probably like to take down the Bearcats just one time.

HANOVER CENTRAL 28, Wheeler 20

Highland (3-4) at Kankakee Valley (2-5):

WHEATFIELD (10-11-2019)
The Kougars have lost three in a row and KV has scored more than 20 points only once all season. They’re better than that. Highland has lost the last two weeks at home to Lowell (5-2) and Hobart (5-2). They need a win here to get back to the .500 mark. All four Highland losses are to teams with winning records. I don't have a feel for this one.

Kankakee Valley 16, Highland 14

Merrillville (6-1) at Lake Central (3-4):

ST. JOHN (10-11-2019)
Lake Central is unpredictable, at best. They have been shut out three times, but LC does have wins over Michigan City and Portage. Merrillville has to get over the 29-28 loss last week to Valparaiso, a game they led by 18 in the third quarter. The Pirates lost at LC two years ago, but that won't happen again.

Merrillville 35, Lake Central 7

Michigan City (3-4) at LaPorte (1-6):

LaPORTE (10-11-2019)
This is a tough one. Michigan City ended a three-game losing streak with a 28-0 shutout over Portage last week. At the start of the year, they win this game by 30. But LaPorte is getting better. The Slicers shorten the game with their option running attack and, not coincidentally, they have allowed just 56 points (18.6 per game) in the last three weeks. On top of that, this is the "Battle of LaPorte County."  These are arch rivals.

Michigan City 20, LaPorte 13

ANDREAN (4-3) at LOWELL (5-2):

LOWELL (10-11-2019)
We have reached the hour of decision in the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC). This is an elimination game with the defending league champion 59ers (4-3, 2-1 NCC) in a must-win situation regarding the conference, taking on Lowell (5-2, 3-0 NCC). Andrean has lost only to Hobart (5-2), Merrillville (6-1) and New Prairie (7-0) and they are led by 1,000-yard rusher Ryan Walsh. Lowell is home for just the third time in eight weeks and they’ve allowed an uncomfortable 21 points a game. I need more time to pick this one.

Check back with me Thursday.

CROWN POINT (4-3) at Chesterton (5-2):

CHESTERTON (10-11-2019)
Crown Point’s defense tries to slow down Chesterton sophomore quarterback Chris Mullen, who has completed 88 of 171 passes for 1,579 yards and 15 touchdowns in seven games. This might be good practice in case CP draws Lafayette Jefferson and star QB Max Grimes (95 of 146, 1,641 yards, 17 TDs) in Class 6A Sectional 1. Let me think a spell on this one, too.

I’ll make the pick on Thursday.

Whiting (2-5) at Griffith (0-6):

GRIFFITH (10-11-2019)
Whiting has lost four in a row, the Oilers longest losing streak in 18 years. But Griffith has allowed 278 points (46.3 per game) in six games and the Panthers are tying to avoid the school’s first winless season since 1940. Somebody is going to get happy about 9 p.m. Friday night.

Griffith 27, Whiting 14

Morton (6-1) at East Chicago (5-2):

EAST CHICAGO (10-11-2019)
The Cardinals have won three in a row, but the moment of truth is here. Morton defeated East Chicago 56-9 last season and 42-10 the year before. Is there any chance that the Cardinals will fly high and soar to victory over the Class 4A No. 13 Governors? The answer is "no."

Morton 42, East Chicago 14

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Revised: October 06, 2019 .