It is hard to believe another high school football season is upon us. Once again, I will try my hand at picking games around the Northern part of the state. Last year, I finished 295-88, which was good for 77 percent. This year, I am hoping to reach the 80 percent plateau. All games are Friday unless noted and indicate 2016 records.
NORTHERN INDIANA CONFERENCE
Boone Grove (2-8) at Glenn (1-9): This is the first meeting between the Wolves and Falcons. Both schools have new coaches with Dan Kukulski and Boone Grove and Austin Foust at Glenn. The Wolves were limited to nine or fewer points last season, while the Falcons allowed 31 or more points nine times. Matt’s pick: Glenn 27, Boone Grove 20.
Concord (6-4) at Saint Joseph (2-8): The Minutemen rolled to a 43-18 win over Saint Joseph last season. Concord tallied 25 or more points on six occasions a year ago, while the Indians surrendered 30 or more points eight times. Matt’s pick: Concord 29, Saint Joseph 26.
Jimtown (7-5) at NorthWood (14-1): The defending Class 4A state runner-up Panthers rallied for a 46-30 victory at Jimtown a year ago. NorthWood recorded a program-best for victories in 2016, while the Jimmies have not had a losing season since 1979. Matt’s pick: NorthWood 38, Jimtown 17.
Leo (7-3) at Riley (2-8) (Jackson Field): The Lions roared to a 53-21 win against Riley a season ago. Leo is going after its first sectional crown since 2011, while the Wildcats’ last title came in 1992. Matt’s pick: Leo 41, Riley 16.
Marian (11-2) at Clay (0-10): The Colonials are looking to make amends for a 35-0 loss at Marian last year. Will Porter is in his first season at Clay after spending the last three campaigns at South Vermillion. The Knights gave up eight or fewer points seven times in 2016, while the Colonials are looking to halt a 12-game losing skid. Matt’s pick: Marian 40, Clay 9.
New Prairie (9-3) at LaPorte (9-2): The Slicers hung on a for a 21-20 win over New Prairie last season. The Cougars are looking to halt a three-game losing streak to LaPorte. The Slicers are in pursuit of their fourth consecutive winning season. Matt’s pick: LaPorte 22, New Prairie 21.
Northridge (3-8) at Adams (6-4) (School Field): The Eagles soared to a 46-29 triumph at Northridge last year. The Raiders scored 20 or more points on six occasions a season ago, while Adams gave up 28 or more points five times. Matt’s pick: Adams 31, Northridge 23.
Penn (12-1) at Valparaiso (5-5): The Kingsmen posted a pair of wins over Valparaiso in 2016 by counts of 27-7 in the regular season and 35-7 in the playoffs. Penn’s last .500 or below season came in 1980, while the Vikings have dropped seven straight contests to Penn. Matt’s pick: Penn 36, Valparaiso 15.
Portage (6-4) at Mishawaka (10-3): The Cavemen earned a 21-7 victory against Portage in their last meeting. The Indians have suffered three consecutive season opening losses, while Mishawaka coach Bart Curtis needs just five wins to reach the 200-mark for his career. Matt’s pick: Mishawaka 24, Portage 20.
Tippecanoe Valley (3-7) at Bremen (8-4): The Lions were a 35-19 winner over Tippecanoe Valley in 2014. Steve Moriarty begins his first season at the helm of the Vikings. Tippy Valley has gone without a sectional title since 1992, while Bremen had its string of three straight championships snapped last fall. Matt’s pick: Bremen 33, Tippecanoe Valley 13.
Elkhart Memorial (2-8) at Elkhart Central (2-8): The Chargers claimed a 21-20 win against Elkhart Central in the annual battle for the Mangy Lion. After leading Seymour for the last four years, Josh Shattuck begins his first go-around with the Blazers. Elkhart Memorial’s last winning season came in 2010, while Elkhart Central’s lone sectional title came in 2014. Matt’s pick: Elkhart Central 30, Elkhart Memorial 25.
Hammond (3-7) at Washington (3-7) (School Field): This marks the first meeting since the Wildcats came away with a 21-20 victory against Washington in the 1948 campaign. Hammond was held to six or less points five times a season ago, while the Panthers are looking to end a five-game losing streak in season openers. Matt’s pick: Washington 22, Hammond 14.
NORTHERN LAKES CONFERENCE
Columbia City (3-7) at Warsaw (6-5): The Tigers clawed their way to a 30-7 win at Columbia City a season ago. The Eagles’ last winning season came in 2011, while Warsaw is still in pursuit of its first sectional title. Matt’s pick: Warsaw 32, Columbia City 23.
East Noble (8-3) at Plymouth (5-6): The Knights eliminated Plymouth from the 2016 Class 4A playoffs with a 40-22 win. East Noble has not experienced a losing season since 2001, while the Rockies allowed 22 or more points four times last season. Matt’s pick: East Noble 34, Plymouth 27.
Goshen (8-3) at Fairfield (1-9): The RedHawks earned a 28-14 win against Fairfield a year ago. Goshen is going after back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2001 and 2002. The Falcons are out to stop a seven-game losing streak. Matt’s pick: Goshen 35, Fairfield 20.
Lakeland (4-5) at Wawasee (4-6): The Lakers cruised to a 50-14 win over Wawasee in the 1996 season. Former Eastside boss Mike Eshbach is starting his first year with the Warriors. Lakeland scored 34 or more points on five occasions in 2016, while Wawasee gave up 33 or more points five times. Matt’s pick: Wawasee 37, Lakeland 14.
HOOSIER NORTH CONFERENCE
LaVille (10-2) at North Newton (8-3): The Lancers suffered an 18-7 loss to North Newton in the 1989 campaign. LaVille is going after its fourth consecutive winning season, while the Spartans are coming off their best finish since going 10-2 in 1993. Matt’s pick: LaVille 25, North Newton 23.
Lewis Cass (1-9) at Pioneer (14-1): The defending Class 1A state runner-up Panthers blanked Lewis Cass, 47-0, in their last matchup. The Kings were held to 14 or less points eight times a year ago, while Pioneer’s last losing season occurred in 1995. Matt’s pick: Pioneer 42, Lewis Cass 16.
North Judson (5-7) at Culver (6-5): The Cavaliers came away with a 36-20 victory against North Judson last season. The Bluejays have not celebrated a sectional championship since 2004, while Culver registered 32 or more points on five occasions. Matt’s pick: Culver 20, North Judson 18.
South Newton (1-9) at Triton (2-9): On their way to a Class 1A sectional crown in 2008, the Trojans claimed a 23-21 victory over South Newton. The Rebels were held to six or less points five times last season, while Triton is looking for its first winning season since 2008. Matt’s pick: Triton 14, South Newton 13.
West Central (1-9) at Caston (2-8): The Comets blasted past West Central, 20-0, last year. Tony Slocum is now in charge of the Caston program. The Trojans’ lone victory in each of the last two years has come against Frontier. The Comets ended last year on a seven-game losing streak. Matt’s pick: Caston 12, West Central 10.
Winamac (8-5) at Knox (9-3): The Redskins held on for a 14-12 win over Winamac a season ago. Craig Barr starts his first year with the Warriors, replacing Indiana Hall of Fame skipper Tim Roth. Winamac recorded 34 or more points six times a season ago, while Knox allowed seven or less points on six occasions. Matt’s pick: Knox 23, Winamac 22.
DUNELAND ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Andrean (5-6) at Merrillville (5-6): The Pirates downed Andrean, 35-7, last year. The 59ers have not had back-to-back losing seasons since 1994 and 1995, while Merrillville has not finished below .500 two times in a row since 1960 and 1961. Matt’s pick: Merrillville 33, Andrean 30.
Chesterton (2-8) at Hobart (10-3): The Trojans marched past Hobart, 33-13, in the 2002 season. Chesterton has never celebrated a sectional championship, while the Brickies claimed their first one in 2016 since 1997. Matt’s pick: Hobart 34, Chesterton 17.
Crown Point (6-6) at Lowell (9-5): The Bulldogs needed two overtimes to earn a 9-3 win over Lowell a year ago. Crown Point allowed 10 or fewer points six times last year, while the Red Devils tallied 33 or points on nine occasions. Matt’s pick: Lowell 36, Crown Point 28.
Griffith (8-4) at Michigan City (7-4): The Wolves were a 49-28 winner against Griffith last season. The Panthers have dropped four straight season-opening contests, while Michigan City has never registered back-to-back winning records. Matt’s pick: Michigan City 31, Griffith 27.
Lake Central (4-6) at Munster (6-6): The Indians marched past Munster, 35-7, a season ago. Lake Central allowed 24 or more points just four times a year ago, while the Mustangs racked up 20 or points on eight occasions. Matt’s pick: Lake Central 25, Munster 23.