CLASS 5A Saturday, 4 p.m.
St. Thomas Academy Cadets (11-1) vs. St. Michael-Albertville Knights (11-1)
Jim says: On paper, St. Michael-Albertville looks beatable. Other than WR Isaiah Weston, a 6-foot-4 game-changer, the Knights don’t frighten anyone. But on the field, they become more than the sum of their parts. The offense is varied enough to sustain drives even when one aspect is shut down, which is what happened in a close semifinal victory over Mankato West. The defense rarely makes mistakes and doesn’t back down from a fight. Most important, the Knights have found ways to win, the mark of a good team. This is their year.
The pick: St. Michael-Albertville 24, St. Thomas Academy 14
David says: A Prep Bowl appearance in 1999 and community growth combined to brand St. Michael-Albertville as a growing metro-area program. Someday soon, the Knights will battle for a 6A state tournament appearance. For now, the focus is on cementing their rise to power with a state title. They must start well and sustain pressure against the Cadets, who trailed at halftime in three of four playoff games and rallied to win each time. Losses in the past two state semifinal games, however, taught the Knights that the opportunity at hand is precious.
The pick: St. Michael-Albertville 28, St. Thomas Academy 24