A victory this week means a trip to TCF Bank Stadium for Prep Bowl XXXIV, the last one many of us will ever see played outside. The semifinal matchups point to some great football regardless of who advances. Staff writers Jim Paulsen (31-15) and David La Vaque (28-18) hope they’ve picked the correct Class 6A winners.
Totino-Grace (9-2) vs. Osseo (8-3), 7 p.m. Thursday at Minnetonka
David says: This Osseo team is special. The Orioles boast the right mix of size and skill. And they aren’t afraid of Totino-Grace. Two years ago, a gutsy but failed two-point conversion attempt by Osseo allowed the Eagles to escape with a victory in the state tournament quarterfinals. An upset will require every fiber of its talent, but Osseo finishes the job this time.
Pick: Osseo 21, Totino-Grace 20
Jim says: Two interesting facts about this game: Both teams opt up to play in Class 6A. Enrollment numbers alone would put Totino-Grace in Class 4A, Osseo in 5A. Since 2009, Totino-Grace’s season has ended in just two different ways: a state tournament loss to Eden Prairie or a state championship. The Eagles already have ousted Eden Prairie, so …
Pick: Totino-Grace 28, Osseo 21
East Ridge (10-1) vs. Maple Grove (9-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Eden Prairie
David says: Picking against a team riding a 10-game winning streak seems a fool’s choice, but here goes. Maple Grove’s defense is capable of handling the East Ridge running game and hurry-up tempo. Forced to pass, the Raptors offense goes from dynamic to dicey. The undersized Crimson defense must swarm to the ball on every down.
Pick: Maple Grove 24, East Ridge 14
Jim says: Classic speed-vs.-size matchup. This game could help define football in Minnesota in November. Will the East Ridge’s traditional ground-attack continue to be successful? Or will Maple Grove’s speed-based lineup have the edge? Maple Grove coach Matt Lombardi is convinced his defense can handle the massive East Ridge line. I think he’s right.
Pick: Maple Grove 26, East Ridge 20