Playoff time has now hit for all Northwest Indiana prep football teams. This weekend, Halloween night will offer a number of intriguing match-ups of region teams looking to continue their run to the state championship.
The Region Sports Network has the best three match-ups of the weekend previewed, with all the others being rounded up in their "Around the Region" feature.
One of the best matchups involving a pair of Lake County stalwarts pits Lake Central (9-1) visiting Merrillville (5-5) in the IHSAA Class 6A Sectional #1 Championship at Demaree Stadium.
The Pirates responded to their first sub .500 regular season since 2002 with a stunning upset of rival Crown Point in the sectional opener last week. This week, the face a Lake Central team that beat them just a couple weeks ago.
"We’ve learned our lesson not to count Merrillville out until the game clock reads 0:00. The Pirates showed the kind of offensive explosiveness against Crown Point that had long been anticipated. The question is: can the Pirates bring it again versus Lake Central? The Indians have been as consistently good as any team in the area this season and we’re going to stick with them here," the RSN's Dennis Churilla wrote, selecting the Indians as a 17-14 winner. See full RSN preview here.
Churilla also previewed the match-up pitting Morton (9-1) and host Highland (6-4), who will play in the Sectional #17 semi-finals. While Highland has improved steadily over the last few years, Morton remains the favorite in this match-up thanks to explosive running back Mark Snorton, who ran for 127 yards and three touchdowns in last week's sectional opener win over Hammond rival Gavit.
"Highland has made some nice strides these past few seasons. This game wouldn’t have even merited a preview as recently as a few years ago, but the Trojans have closed the gap, though they still have some ground to make up on Morton. Highland might make a game of it, but Morton’s pedigree of late makes the Governors the pick here," Churilla wrote, picking the Governors to win at Highland, 35-21. See full RSN preview here.
The third game the RSN previewed will take place out of the region, but promises to be a good one as one of the area's best teams in Munster (7-2) takes on a Mishawaka Cavemen team sporting an 8-2 mark.
"Munster can’t find themselves in a situation where they need to throw consistently. Mishawaka has a pair of rush ends in Jared Mackowicz and Jacob Schmatz who each have 9.5 sacks and the secondary is dangerous with Devin Wakes leading the way with five interceptions. If the Mustangs are in obvious passing situations, Mackowicz and Schmatz can just pin their ears back and make life difficult for Ostoich and company – Munster MUST avoid these scenarios in order to win," the RSN staff wrote on this one, picking the Region's Mustangs to win 28-21. See full RSN preview here.
The RSN's "Around the Region" feature takes a quick look at all the other games involving Northwest Indiana teams in postseason football. Among the contests previewed here are La Porte at Michigan City, Kankakee Valley at New Prairie and Boone Grove at Wheeler.