Week 6 Picks - 2021 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

September 21, 2021


Valparaiso's CJ Opperman (13) and Jake Evans (4) display the traveling "County Seat Trophy" on 09-21-2018, following their victory that year in which they gained back the trophy from Crown Point.  The trophy has remained in the Vikings' possession the last four years. Valpo travels to CP again this Friday, 9-24-2021. (Photo by Mark Smith)

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-5, 2021 Football Picks in Review:
Sept. 17-18, 2021

Wrong - 4, Right - 8 = 66.7%

The Pick The Result

Griffith 42, Hanover Central 35  

(wrong) Hanover 57-14

Kankakee Valley 27, Munster 20  

Kankakee Valley 35-21

Morton 27, West Side 12  

Morton 20-14

Hammond 28, Pioneer 21  

(wrong) Pioneer 36-19

Andrean 42, Highland 20  

Andrean 38-14

Wheeler 34, Boone Grove 8  

Wheeler 63-0

Whiting 35, River Forest 30  

(wrong) River Forest 49-6

North Judson 21, Winamac 14  


LaPorte 24, Lake Central 14  

LaPorte 27-20 (OT)

CROWN POINT 31, Portage 14  


LOWELL 28 Hobart 24  

(wrong) Hobart 39-27

MERRILLVILLE 42, Michigan City 27  


Valparaiso 35, Chesterton 21  

Valparaiso 10-7

‘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%

WEEK FIVE (5): 8 of 12, 66.7%
Regular season: 46 of 62, 74.2%

WEEK (5) Rewind: Hobart is better than I thought. That’s a strong offensive team. They were just better than Lowell. And Hammond (1-4) is surprisingly bad. But losing 46-19 to Pioneer is no shame and the Wolves have three games left. they can win to finish the regular season at 4-4.

But I picked Griffith to beat Hanover and Whiting to turn back River Forest and neither came close to happening. ‘Mr. Picker’ needs to put in a little more time at the ‘picker desk’ figuring out some of the small schools he doesn’t see regularly, if at all.

Once again Judson vs. Winamac was cancelled. We all know I’d have picked Tippecanoe Valley to beat North Judson, which is what happened last Friday in the rescheduled game. But I can't take credit for what I would have done.

'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 (6) SIX:

MERRILLVILLE (09-24-2021)
One of the truisms of picking games is that you pick against teams with very young, inexperienced quarterbacks. Well, not anymore. Andrean sophomore Scott Ballentine is 3-2 as a starter. Hobart freshman QB Noah Ehrlich is 3-2 as a starter. Michigan City sophomore Tyler Bush is going to have a winning record as a starter before the season ends. Credit to the seniors on those teams because if I’d waited all my life to be a senior on the varsity (or the senior quarterback on the varsity) and the coach told me he’s playing a freshman at QB, I would go run cross country. But the older boys on those teams have accepted a much younger kid to be their leader. Again, much credit to them.

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Let’s leave a few games out this week. Boone Grove hasn’t scored all season so I think I’ll leave out Hanover-Boone. I’ll also pass on Wheeler vs. Whiting. Wheeler has been very good and Whiting, let's just say, hasn’t been. Also, while I understand why Morton, moving up to Class 5A wanted to schedule 5A No. 1 Cathedral (5-0), this matchup Friday night isn’t going to go well for the Governors (1-4). I hope they plan to get some good snacks for the drive home. So with that said, I’m only going to pick 12 games this week. I’m also not allowed to pick Indiana University, the Chicago Bears or Indianapolis Colts to beat anybody anywhere until further notice.

And like I said last week, if you feel you can pick this week’s 12 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 12 picks (with the final scores) before the games this week and let's see how you can do against the uncrowned ‘Pick Master’.

Mr. Picker 2021 WEEK (6) SIX:

Hammond (1-4) at East Chicago (1-4):

EAST CHICAGO (09-24-2021)
Hammond is allowing 41 points a game and East Chicago has scored a grand total of 40 points all season. Here’s how you have to look at it. Everybody gets 10 games so five games is the halfway mark. Both EC and Hammond have had bad seasons. Bad halves of a season. Hammond was without their starting QB last week at Pioneer. That’s over. There are some wins out there for both teams and one of them could be Friday. For Hammond, it will be.

Hammond 32, East Chicago 14

River Forest (2-2) at Bishop Noll (1-2):

HAMMOND (09-24-2021)
The River boys laid it on Whiting 49-7, but Noll hasn’t played in two weeks. What do they have? RF has Jose Alvarez who has run for 400 yards. Noll has wild Willie Feagin (6-0, 150) who has passed for two TDs and run for 200 yards in three games. Noll won't have many chances to win this year, but this game, at home, is one of them.

River Forest 35, Bishop Noll 20

Munster (2-3) at Highland (2-3):

HIGHLAND (09-24-2021)
Munster is improving. They’ve played well three weeks in a row even though they lost 35-21 to Kankakee Valley last week. Highland put up a good battle early, but Andrean overwhelmed them 38-14. Highland needs this game badly because Lowell and Hobart are next and those look like ‘hard times’ Friday nights. Highland has lost to Griffith and Knox, teams I think they would beat if they played them again now.

Highland 34, Munster 20

New Prairie (4-1) at (South Bend) Adams (3-2):

SOUTH BEND (09-24-2021)
Okay, I’d like to tell you how New Prairie beats a good Lowell team by 10 points in week three, losses by 33 and gets shut out by a good (Mishawaka) Marian team in week four and then shuts out St. Joseph’s 35-0 last week. Are they moody? Is Marian (3-2) that good? Do they have issues? I have no idea. But take this downtown and print it. There’s no way New Prairie loses to Adams at School Field Friday night. No chance, No how.

New Prairie 42, Adams 14

Lake Station (1-2) at South Central (0-3):

UNION MILLS (09-24-2021)
South Central’s schedule has been all jacked up due to Covid situations, but they played last week, losing to (Oceola) Grace 15-12. SC’s other losses are to Griffith, a larger school and Triton by the score of 18-16. What I’m trying to say is: The Satellites' record is misleading. What about Lake Station? Sure they beat Indian school for the Deaf 34-8 last week. But they lost 59-30 to South Newton (3-2). Obviously, both teams look at the others' record and they think this week they’re winning. Only one of them is right.

South Central 34, Lake Station 16

Calumet (4-1) at Griffith (2-3):
GRIFFITH (09-24-2021)
People who think they know stuff (Read: 'Mr. Picker') don't give Calumet a lot of credit for their record the last three years (18-5) because of the schedule, which doesn't include the Lake Centrals or the Hobarts or the Lowells. But the Warriors head to Griffith with a 4-1 start. Calumet has started the season 4-1 in each of the last four seasons. Griffith plays some of the teams that Calumet does and they head into play Friday with a three-game losing streak. If Calumet wins at Griffith, will Mr. Picker finally put some respect on their name? We’ll see.

Calumet 28, Griffith 21

Michigan City (2-3) at Lake Central (3-2):

ST. JOHN (09-24-2021)
Lake Central lost a tough one in overtime last week at LaPorte, but they’ll get no sympathy from the Wolves, who have faced (and lost to) ranked teams three weeks in a row. LC has some potential-filled offensive skill position players, but they are playing the wrong team at the wrong time this Friday. Michigan City gets back to the .500 mark.

Michigan City 42, Lake Central 21

Lafayette Catholic (2-3) at Rensselaer (3-2):

RENSSELAER (09-24-2021)
I don’t know here. Rensselaer lost big 56-0 last week at superpower West Lafayette (5-0) but the Bombers are not that bad. Lafayette Catholic got smoked out 42-28 by undefeated Tipton (5-0) after losing 43-7 to West Lafayette. Are they that bad? I don’t think so. I don't know if Rensselaer star Drew Kidd (100 carries, 702 yards, 11 TDs) played against West Lafayette. But can Rensselaer stop big quarterback Clark Barret (6-5, 200) of Lafayette Catholic even if they are at full strength?

Lafayette Catholic 35, Rensselaer 21

LaPorte (2-3) at MERRILLVILLE (5-0):

MERRILLVILLE (09-24-2021)
I love the way LaPorte has continued to battle without their starting quarterback RJ Anglin, who is out for the year. The 27-20 overtime win last week over Lake Central (3-2) sounded similar to their 21-14 overtime win over Penn on August 27. But all my thoughts and well wishes won't help the Slicers Friday when they get to Merrillville, where the Pirates have won all five games so far by 26 points or more.


LOWELL (2-3) at Kankakee Valley (3-2):

WHEATFIELD (09-24-2021)
Lots of teams have traveling trophies for rivalry games. But the ‘Old Milk Can’ is my favorite. The winner owns an old piece of outdated dairy equipment for 12 more months. Lowell needs this game. The Devils have played well against winning teams Like Crown Point (3-2), Hobart (3-2) and New Prairie (4-1), but they’ve lost all three. KV led Lowell 14-0 at the half in 2019 and lost 21-14. The Kougars led Lowell 21-0 at the half in 2020 in Lowell. And they lost 28-21.

I need time to make the prediction on this game. Don’t rush me.

Valparaiso (5-0) at CROWN POINT (3-2):

CROWN POINT (09-24-2021)
Crown Point has run for 500 yards the last two weeks on the road and the Bulldogs' defense has held Portage and Lake Central under 10 points. But Valparaiso has turned back Michigan City and Chesterton (4-1) the last two weeks, rushing for 250 yards in both games. Both teams feature the offensive line and ‘feature’ means they line up and run the ball until you show them you can stop it. This Porter County-Lake County collision is the battle for the ‘County Seat’ trophy and there will be some rough riders on the front lines.

I’m truly not sure who is going to win this one. Give me a few days.

Hobart (3-2) at ANDREAN (3-2):
MERRILLVILLE (09-24-2021)
Matchup of rookie QBs. Andrean soph Scott Ballentine (6-0, 175) has thrown for 1,000 yards in five games. But Hobart freshman QB Noah Ehrlich has thrown for 750 yards. Andrean all-stater Drayk Bowen and Hobart star running back Trey Gibson will meet (probably often) for the first time in a game. Andrean just puts so much pressure on the perimeter of your defense. On a cooler, football-friendly night, Hobart can score, but Andrean can score more. This will be fun to watch for everybody but the coaches.

Andrean 42, Hobart 34 

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