Rick Good walked around Calumet's football locker room in July.

His words spoke volumes to a group of young men.

The first-year coach saw his seniors, who were playing for their third coach in four years. Good understood the revolving door in the coach's office wasn't good.

There was nothing he could do about that.

But he looked the freshmen in the eye and told them this.

"Whether we win a conference championship or a sectional championship, on your senior night I will be there shaking your hand."

Good said it took six weeks or so for his Warriors to buy in, but it all came together last Friday night when Calumet beat Wheeler 30-23, the second-ever win against the Bearcats.

Paris Hernandez had five catches for 105 yards and a score. AJ Fowler rushed for 106 yards and Cody Snook had two rushing touchdowns.

"When Paris shines our offense really gets going," Good said. "If you cover him 1 on 1, he catches everything in a five-block area."

In Week 7, the Warriors battled Whiting down to the wire before falling 20-12.

"I think that game got our guys to believe," Good said.

The new coach credits former Calumet players Andy Trevino, Shane Conover, Artty Fowler and Nathan Fowler for coming back to bring stability and hope to the program.

Tonight, Calumet travels to Twin Lakes for the Class 3A Sectional 25 opener. It will be a tough matchup. But this team has shown great improvement. And win or lose, the Warriors' future looks to be in Good hands.

"Calumet's always had the athletes," Good said. "We've just got to show these kids some consistency. Our record doesn't show it but we've made big strides in the program."

And now, drum roll please, here are my predictions for the 2017 IHSAA state tournament. I rarely miss, so you can take these picks to the Waffle House for a plate of pancakes and a friendly wager.

Class A, Sectional 41: South Central is our lone team in this tourney. A 4-1 start by the Satellites was followed by four straight losses. They can beat Winamac, but LaVille will win this trophy.

Class 2A, Sectional 33: Talk about wide open. Whiting's chances depends on whether Tommy "TD" Davenport plays at North Newton tonight. The Oilers and Spartans can win this, along with Boone Grove and Roosevelt on the other side. I'm going to pick Whiting by a hair. Been there. Done that.

Class 3A, Sectional 25: Chris Skinner's Andrean 59ers have had a very fine turnaround season. There are some serious players on this roster. But nobody is beating West Lafayette. The Red Devils are the best football team in West Lafayette.

Class 4A, Sectional 17: The question people have been asking since August will be answered in the next three weeks. Maybe. Can Griffith beat Lowell in the championship game? The Panthers will have a tough semifinal against Morton. But my money's on Red Devil Pride. The boys in black get it done.

Class 4A, Sectional 18: Hobart's Brickies broke a long drought a year ago and Ryan Turley has had a fine season for such a young and inexperienced group. Could they do it again? Yes. Maybe. But I'll take New Prairie in this one. Russ Radtke's team is on a roll now.

Class 5A, Sectional 9: Take the over. Over and over again. It will be Michigan City-LaPorte in the final. The Slicers won the regular season game 58-56. I'll take the Wolves at Ames, 60-59.

Class 6A, Sectional 1: Crown Point has a defense looking for some offensive help. Portage has an offensive star, Anthony Maceo, looking for some defensive help. I think the Bulldogs get a little revenge.

Class 6A, Sectional 2: Can Valparaiso beat Penn twice in one season? Yes, the Vikings can and will. Health is returning and at the right time.

State champs: And here are your state champions at Lucas Oil Stadium on Thanksgiving weekend — Pioneer will win Class A. Evansville Mater Dei wins 2A. West Lafayette gets 3A. Lowell grabs the 4A crown. Indianapolis Cathedral gets 5A. And Indianapolis Ben Davis wins 6A.

It's a great time of the year. Embrace the challenge and enjoy the journey.

This column solely represents the writer’s opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.


Sports reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.