Week 7 Picks - 2021 NW Indiana High School Football

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

September 29, 2021


Merrillville boys get on the bus Friday to head for Porter County and the first place showdown with Valparaiso. The Pirates and Vikings will meet for the first time in two years and there will be only one leader in the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) by 10 p.m. Friday night. (Photo by Mark Smith)

'Mr. Picker' WEEK-6, 2021 Football Picks in Review:
Sept. 24-25, 2021

Wrong - 0, Right - 11 = 100.0%

The Pick The Result

Hammond 32, East Chicago 14  


River Forest 35, Bishop Noll 20  

River Forest 61-0

Highland 34, Munster 20  

Highland 28-0

New Prairie 42, Adams 14  

New Prairie 9-0

South Central 34, Lake Station 16  

South Central 49-14

Calumet 28, Griffith 21  

Calumet 14-10

Michigan City 42, Lake Central 21  

Michigan City 49-13

Lafayette Catholic 35, Rensselaer 21  

Lafayette Catholic 35-0

MERRILLVILLE 42, LaPorte 14  


LOWELL 21, Kankakee Valley 14  


Valparaiso 17, CROWN POINT 12  

Valpo 56-14

Andrean 42, Hobart 34  

Andrean 31-28

‘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%

WEEK FIVE (5): 8 of 12, 66.7%
WEEK SIX (6): 11 of 11, 100.0%

Regular season: 57 of 73, 79.4%

WEEK (6) Rewind: What can I say? 11 of 11. That’s why they call me ‘Mr. Picker.’ Check with me before you head to the casino.

But I picked Griffith to beat Hanover and Whiting to turn back River Forest and neither came close to happening. Okay, I know I picked Valpo to beat Crown Point 17-12 and the final score was 56-14.

Best pick of the week? Probably Merrillville by 28 and they won 54-19. Calumet by 7 and they won by 10.

But when you pick ‘em all right, they are all the ‘best pick.’ It was a good week.

'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 (7) SEVEN:

MERRILLVILLE (10-01-2021)
The big game this week is Valparaiso and Merrillville, but there are a dozen others of interest in Northwest Indiana and The fans will be in the stands. I wish everyone could see the Valpo-Merrillville game but this isn’t 1995 when two editions if the ‘Game of the Week’ were broadcast on tape at 10:30 at night.

When Class 4A No. 1 Hobart met Class 5A No. 1 Merrillville on October 11, 1991, it was the undisputed game of the year. Hobart was the defending semistate champ. The Brickies (6-0), the ‘89 state Class 4A champs, had won 13 in a row in 1990 before losing the title game 34-14 to Franklin Central. Merrillville (6-0) was clearly on the rise and they had already shut out Crown Point 27-0, Portage 20-0, Michigan City Rogers 16-0 and Andean 14-0. But were they ready for the kings of Northwest Indiana high school football?

Super coach Don Howell’s Brickies were 14-0 in 1987, 13-1 in 1989, 13-1 in 1990.

So what happened?. Over 7,000 people filled Demaree Stadium to watch the Pirates win 13-12. It was a great game. That’s why if you can go to Valparaiso this Friday, you should. It's worth it. Those were the days, my friend. We thought they’d never end. Now, some games are aired on the internet and I’m very grateful to be able to watch a variety of matchups from around the state. But not that many from Northwest Indiana.
All Munster games are on, but they are pay-per-view. All Lowell games are on. Some are pay-per-view. Some are not. I believe that if you can access the ‘IHSAA Champions Network’, you watch the Pirates and the Vikings.

Several TV stations around the state (Channel 46 in South Bend, WHME) still do carry a ‘game of the week’ with multiple pro-focused cameras, replays and high quality production values.

But not in Northwest Indiana. Don't et me wrong I love to be able to watch replays of the Lowell games deep into the night, but if Hanover Central or Rensselaer have been on TV this season, I’ve missed it.
The ultimate solution? I believe it's coming. The high schools produce the broadcasts themselves and promote them in their own communities. Local businesses will want to sponsor local kids producing TV broadcasts of local kids playing ball. There’s no ‘middle man’ (out of town salesperson) and there’s no downside.

Let’s leave a few games out again this week.

Boone Grove hasn't scored a point all season so ‘Mr. Picker’ does not feel right picking the Wolves’ game at Griffith Friday. Clay (0-6) is 6-69 in the last eight years so there’s no need to pick Clay vs. Calumet (5-1) this week. ‘The Picker Man’ will pass on the Calumet game as well. New Prairie vs. South Bend Adams has been cancelled due to Covid-19.

And Bishop Noll, which has won three games in seven years, lost 61-0 at home last week, so the king of Pickers does not need to be guessing how much they’ll lose by at Wheeler (3-1) this week.

Let's just pick 11 teams this week.

He was 11 off 11 last week but can ‘Mr. Picker’, as awesome as he is, pick the biggest game of the year?

Mr. Picker 2021 WEEK (7) Seven:

Portage (1-5) at Michigan City (3-3):

MICHIGAN CITY (10-01-2021)
I spend a lot of time talking about who a certain team LOST to by its front and center here. Michigan City has lost to Valparaiso (6-0), Merrillville (6-0) and Chesterton (5-1) . The point is: MC could be almost as good as Chesterton, which is pretty good. But using that logic, Portage losses are to Merrillville, Valparaiso, Chesterton, Lake Central (3-3) and Lowell (3-3). That simple-minded logic would make Portage no worse than a .500 team. So Michigan City is no worse than 6A No. 9 Chesterton and Portage is no worse than Lake Central. Okay.
Then this game isn't that close.


Benton Central (0-4) at Rensselaer (3-3):

RENSSELAER (10-01-2021)
I do not think that Rensselaer star Dylan Kidd (100 carries, 702 yards, 11 TDs) has played the last two weeks and the Bombers have lost, albeit to perennial powers West Lafayette and Lafayette Catholic 56-0 and 35-0. Is he back? Does it matter? Benton Central lost last week 62-16 to West Lafayette (6-0), which will be No. 1 in Class 3A when the new poll comes out this week. My guess? Kidd sits and Rensselaer wins anyway.

Rensselaer 26, Benton Central 14

North Judson (4-2) at Triton (3-3):

TRITON (10-01-2021)
I was all aboard the Judson ‘Love Train’ until they got side-tracked 26-10 against Tippecanoe Valley (6-0) and 42-21 by Culver Academy (4-2) the last two weeks. But those are bigger schools. Judson is 1A and the only place they’ll be seeing Class 4A Tippecanoe Valley again is on television. But Triton has been riding a hard trail this year, too. Check out their three losses: 7-0 in overtime to 1A sectional rival LaVille (4-1), 35-7 to Class 2A Bremen (3-3) and 26-6 to Class 2A trouble-maker Pioneer (3-3). This week? I think Judson is stronger in the lines and they will grab a low-scoring win.

North Judson 22, Triton 13

Hanover Central (5-1) at Whiting (2-4):

WHITING (10-01-2021)
When Hanover joined the Greater South Shore Conference (GSSC), I thought this would be one of the great annual matchup. Well, sometimes. HC beat Whiting 21-0 in 2016 but lost to the perennially tough Oilers 40-26 and 61-0 the next two years. Hanover won 40-0 in Whiting in 2019 and there’s just the feeling (maybe just my feeling) that Hanover (773 students) has quickly become too large a school for Whiting (476 kids) to compete successfully with in a ‘numbers sport’ like football. Anyway, Hanover is 20-8 the last three years and Whiting is 5-15. This is not a hard game to pick.

Hanover Central 42, Whiting 6.

Bowman Academy (0-5) at Lake Station (1-4):

LAKE STATION (10-01-2021)
Bowman has had no success. Their 26-14 loss to East Chicago is EC’s only win, but Lake Station’s only win was 34-8 over the Indiana School for the Deaf. I’m leaning into the fact that Bowman has scored just 52 points all season and that Lake Station averages 21 points a game.

Lake Station 28 Bowman 12

Kankakee Valley (3-3) at Hobart (3-3):

HOBART (10-01-2021)
I was very surprised how Lowell just rolled over KV last week in a rivalry game. Lowell is good, but they were on the road and the Devils were ahead by five touchdowns at halftime. KV didn't seem ready to play and I don't know why. Hobart rallied form 21 points down but still lost 31-28 at Andrean last Friday so they need to get back to winning. They will.

Hobart 35, Kankakee Valley 7.

Lake Central (3-3) at Chesterton (5-1):

CHESTERTON (10-01-2021)
Chesterton has allowed only 50 points all season and the Trojans’ 10-7 loss to Valparaiso (6-0) spoke highly of both teams. Lake Central was 3-0 and then the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) schedule began to lean on them. LC is still a little overmatched in the DAC.

Chesterton 35, Lake Central 14

Hammond Central (1-5) at Morton (1-5):

HAMMOND (10-01-2021)
I hope a lot of folks from Hammond ignore the won-loss records and show up to see the first matchup of the two consolidated Hammond schools. Both of these teams upgraded their schedules and paid the price because of it. ‘Central’, the old Hammond high, has allow 42 points as game against teams like Valparaiso (6-0), 3A power Western Boone (4-2) and 2A power Pioneer (4-2). Morton has scored only 50 points all season against a schedule that included Class 5A No. 1 Cathedral (6-0). I know that both teams probably have severe depth issues by this time of the year, but going solely on strength of schedule I like the Governors.

Morton 26, Hammond 20

LaPorte (2-4) at CROWN POINT (3-3):

CROWN POINT (10-01-2021)
CP has only lost to ranked teams so they’re looking to take down a LaPorte team that has been shorthanded without injured quarterback RJ Anglin since week two. But this is CP’s homecoming and LaPorte has only lost to Top-10 teams Merrillville (6-0), Valpo (67-0), Chesterton (5-1) and New Prairie (5-1).

Give me a couple of days to think about this one.

Highland (3-3) at LOWELL (3-3):

LOWELL (10-01-2021)
Highland heads down to the south end of Lake County looking for an upset, while the Devils try to kick up over the .500 mark for the first time this season. The Trojans' defense had to be pleased with a 28-0 shutout of Munster last week. But the Devils laid 250 yards rushing on Kankakee Valley last Friday in a 49-7 win.

Let me stir this one up a few days before I decide.

MERRILLVILLE (6-0) at Valparaiso (6-0):

VALPARAISO (10-01-2021)
It's time to walk the line. The two teams that have stood tall all season under all challenges meet in Porter County for first place in the Duneland Athletic Conference. Experienced quarterbacks, 1,000-yard running backs. Big offensive lines. Attacking play styles. I really don’t know here, but I think Merrillville has a slightly better quarterback and a slightly better secondary.

MERRILLVILLE 31, Valparaiso 21 

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Revised: September 30, 2021 .