Week 5 Picks - 2021 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

September 15, 2021


Lots of folks from Valparaiso will be making the short trip north to see some 'old friends' Friday. The Class 5A No. 2 Valparaiso Vikings visit Class 6A No. 9 Chesterton at 7 p.m. (Photo by Mark Smith)

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-4, 2021 Football Picks in Review:
Sept. 10-11, 2021

Wrong - 2, Right - 10 = 83.03%

The Pick The Result

Morton 32, Munster 21  

(wrong) Munster 21-16

Calumet 27, Whiting 14  

Calumet 39-14

Hobart 28, Culver Academy 27  

Hobart 49-6

Hanover 40, River Forest 16  

Hanover 48-14

Kankakee Valley 28, North Newton 14  

KV 34-0

Boone Grove 21, Bishop Noll 14  


Hammond 28, Highland 24  

(wrong) Highland 61-34

MERRILLVILLE 42, Portage 14  


Rensselaer 28, Twin Lakes 14  

Rensselaer 30-0

Chesterton 35, LaPorte 17  

Chesterton 42-6



LOWELL 31, Griffith 14  

LOWELL 42-20

Valparaiso 28, Michigan City 20  

Valparaiso 49-28

‘Mr. Picker’ (by the week)
WEEK ONE (1): 8 of 13, 61.5%
WEEK TWO (2): 11 of 13, 84.6%
WEEK THREE (3): 9 of 12, 75.0%
WEEK FOUR (4): 10 of 12, 83.3%

Regular season: 38 of 50, 76.0%

WEEK (4) Rewind: Again, I would like to take the Boone-Noll cancellation as a ‘win’ for me since, obviously, I would have picked it correctly, but the IHSAA says that my ‘picking license’ will be suspended if I do. So Boone-Noll counts as ‘no game,’ not a win or a loss either way.

The Highland-Hammond pick was a gamble and one that I lost. I sure didn’t see Highland dropping 61 points on the Wolves. Morton-Munster could have gone either way. More power to the Mustangs.

Best pick of the week? I did have Merrillville over Portage 42-14 when the final score was 45-13. But the best pick was Crown Point over undefeated Lake Central 27-14 before they won 42-7.

'Mr. Picker' (15 Years)
2020 (final) OVERALL: 122 of 156 = 78.1%
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 - WEEK (5) FIVE:

MERRILLVILLE (09-17-2021)
You never know from week-to-week.

After watching New Prairie beat Lowell 24-14, I was a little surprised to see them get shut out 33-0 by (Mishawaka) Marian. Marian’s 2-2 record is deceiving. They lost to Class 5 power and cross-town rival Mishawaka 43-16 and 27-14 to Culver Academy (3-1). But I didn't think anybody not in Class 6A could shut out New Prairie and their 300-yards per game ground attack.

Penn dropped to 0-4 with a 41-10 loss to St. Xavier high in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Kingsmen, a perennial power coming off a 5-5 season, are going to have trouble winning any games this season. Next week they face a talented Elkhart (2-2) team. In two weeks they face Marian (2-2). Then it's St. Joseph's (2-2), another rival.

The week eight foe is New Prairie (3-1) and week nine is (South Bend) Adams (3-1).

Penn’s Class 6A Sectional 2 assignment could see them match with undefeated Chesterton (4-0). Now, I don't want you to feel too sorry for Penn. From 1995 to 2018, Penn won 308 games and lost just 45. But, forgetting for a second how many Northwest Indiana teams Penn has eliminated over the last 30 years, don’t you feel just a little bit bad about what’s happening to them now? No?

And again, as many of you know, we have had to discontinue Internet radio game broadcasts during the Covid-19 year of 2020 and we no longer have sponsors. We appreciate the support of the Crown Point community over the years and we need it again now. USA-365.com does have a ‘Pay-Pal’ portal on our web site here and, if you would like to support us, it is easy to do.

Any amount would be welcome. Times are hard, but if you appreciate the effort that Dave Woodworth and I put into the USA-365 coverage down through the years and going forward, we would be grateful to hear from you. Donate and Support USA-365.com.

And like I said last week, if you feel you can pick this week’s 13 games better than a professional, experienced selector such a ‘Mr. Picker’, send your picks in before Friday and we’ll talk. Email your picks to usa365@ameritech.net. Not surprisingly, we’ve had no takers so far. Send in 13 picks (with the final scores) before the game this week and lets see how you can do against the uncrowned ‘Pick Master’. His record speaks for itself. Keep in mind. ‘Mr. Picker’ picked Ohio State to beat Oregon last Saturday, too.

Mr. Picker 2021 WEEK (5) FIVE:

Griffith (2-2) at Hanover Central (3-1):

CEDAR LAKE (09-17-2021)
The rough ride continues for Griffith, or does it? After taking hard hits from Hobart and Lowell the last two weeks, Griffith heads down to Cedar Lake to take on a Hanover team that should be 4-0. Hanover led Culver Academy (3-1) by three TDs before losing 35-34. Strength of schedule is a big factor in Griffith’s favor here and the Panthers won this game 35-8 last season.

Griffith 42, Hanover Central 35

Kankakee Valley (2-2) at Munster (2-2):

MUNSTER (09-17-2021)
Munster has bounced back from an 0-2 start with wins over East Chicago and Morton. KV has lost twice, but the defeats are to arch-rival Rensselaer (3-1) and 5A power Harrison (3-1). After going 3-27 the last three seasons, are we seeing a revival at Munster? We’re about to find out.

Kankakee Valley 27, Munster 20

Gary West Side (2-1) at Morton (0-4):

HAMMOND (09-17-2021)
Morton has major league foes Bloomington South (4-0) and Cathedral (4-0) still on the schedule and they gave up 61 points to Highland last week. They need a win here. Badly. But West Side roasted city rival Bowman 58-0 last Saturday. It's opportunity for West Side vs. hunger for Morton. Hunger wins.

Morton 27, West Side 12

Hammond Central (1-3) at Pioneer (2-2):

ROYAL CENTER (9-17-21)
Hammond takes a trip to God’s Country. Royal Center is not near anything and they listen to two kinds of music. Country and Western. The Pioneers, who were 50-4 the last four years, graduated a lot of skill. But they rejected Class 1A Caston 42-6 last Friday. Hammond has only defeated Clay (0-4) and they gave up 61 last week. Hammond has to be wary. Chesterton went to Royal Center and lost last season. Hammond ‘should’ win.

Hammond 28, Pioneer 21

Andrean (2-2) at Highland (2-2):

HIGHLAND (09-17-2021)
Highland did stop Hammond 61-34 last week. But Andrean has lost only to Merrillville (4-0) and defending Michigan big school state champ Grand Rapids Central Catholic (3-0). I’ve watched the 59ers play three times this year and I’m still surprised at how much better they are than I thought they were. Highland has absolutely nothing to lose Friday. Which will turn out to be a good thing.

Andrean 42, Highland 20

Wheeler (2-1) at Boone Grove (0-2):

VALPARAISO (9-17-21)
This game will be played at Valparaiso high school and Boone just hopes it gets played. Boone’s games have been cancelled the past two weeks. Wheeler beat Calumet (3-1) and then had their game cancelled last week. Wheeler junior Caden Brann (5-10, 175) gained 163 yards on 22 carries against Calumet. This isn’t that close.

Wheeler 35, Boone Grove 0

Whiting (2-2) at River Forest (1-2):

HOBART TOWNSHIP (09-17-2021)
The Oilers took a hurt bath 39-14 last week against Calumet (3-1), but I think the mood should be positive heading into this one. The River Forest Ingots also got beat up at home 38-14 by Hanover Central (3-1). These teams did not meet last year and River won the last meeting 40-14 in 2019. I like Whiting in a close one.

Whiting 35, River Forest 30

Winamac (3-0) at North Judson (4-0):

NORTH JUDSON (09-17-2021)
Big showdown in the little town. The 'Mac' is back, winning three games 35-14, 38-6 and 35-18. Actually Winamac won six in a row last year before losing a regional showdown with Lafayette Catholic. But the ’Judds’ were 9-2 last year when they lost the 1A Sectional 41 title game to Winamac 14-8 and line star Brennan Benson (6-3, 302) is a bad boy to handle. Judson survived a trip to Knox last week and I like them to win at home.

North Judson 21, Winamac 14

Lake Central (3-1) at LaPorte (1-3):

LaPORTE (09-17-2021)
Both teams took hard hits last week as LaPorte lost 42-6 and LC lost 42-7. Lake Central could not hold the line against Crown Point. They were overpowered and they're facing senior running back Collin Bergquist and his offensive line, which has sprung him for 500 yards in four games. But LC has lots of speed. LaPorte hasn’t been the same since they lost their quarterback in week two against Penn. Eventually you can recover from that. But is ‘eventually’ this Friday? Go with the home team.

LaPorte 24, Lake Central 14

CROWN POINT (2-2) at Portage (2-2):

PORTAGE (09-17-2021)
Portage has lost some close ones, 26-21 to Lowell (2-2) and 14-7 to Lake Central (3-1), but this might be that friendly looking big, brown bear coming out the woods. Crown Point got smoked 50-13 by Merrillville (4-0) two weeks ago, but they bounced back with a 400-yard attack at Lake Central last Friday. But Portage had Lowell beat. And they should have beat Lake Central. Why can't they beat Crown Point at home?

Give me a few days on this one, okay?

LOWELL (2-2) at Hobart (2-2):

HOBART (09-17-2021)
Heavy duty sectional rivals. Hobart has won 4A Sectional 17 the last two years. Lowell won it the five years straight before that. In last year’s sectional title game, Hobart won 10-7. You can't stop Hobart’s Trey Gibson. You can only hope to contain him. But Lowell scored 42 in the first half last week. Can't the Brickes stop them? There’s a lot involved in this game.

Give me a few days to think about this one, okay?

Michigan City (2-2) at MERRILLVILLE (4-0):

MERRILLVILLE (09-17-2021)
Merrillville’s Lavarian Logan has probably noticed the six rushing TDs against Michigan City last Friday. In a bold move last week, Michigan City inserted sophomore Tyler Bush, who completed 18 of 32 passes for 333 yards. Former QB Giovanni Laurent moved to wide receiver and caught 12 passes for 195 yards. Merrillville is looking at a different MC offense than they thought they were two weeks ago. But MC’s defense isn’t. The Pirates average 45 points a game. This will be entertaining.

MERRILLVILLE 42, Michigan City 27

Valparaiso (4-0) at Chesterton (4-0):

CHESTERTON (09-17-2021)
The feature game of the week sends 5A No. 3 Valparaiso to 6A No. 12 Chesterton. The Viking defense knows what to expect from Chesterton top gun Chris Mullin, who has thrown for 13 touchdowns in four games, because they barely beat the Trojans 30-21 last fall. But has Valpo running back Hayden Vinyard really scored 15 touchdowns in four games this season? Really? These defenses are good, too. But on a warm night, warm up the scoreboard.

Valparaiso 35, Chesterton 21 

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Revised: September 15, 2021 .