Star Tribune prep sports reporters David La Vaque and Jim Paulsen offer their takes on three of the metro area’s finest matchups:
CHASKA (4-0) at Apple Valley (4-0), 7 P.M.
Jim says: After defeating Chanhassen in an intense rivalry game two weeks ago, Chaska fought off a week-after letdown and rallied past Orono last week. Do the Hawks have enough to go on the road and defeat an Apple Valley team that has steamrolled all four opponents? That’s a lot to ask.
Pick: Apple Valley 27, Chaska 20
David says: I picked Chaska to beat Chanhassen. And while I still like the Hawks, watching Apple Valley last week has me riding shotgun on the Eagles’ bandwagon. Jackhammer offensive line. Athletes at key offensive positions. Oh, and senior LB/RB Kellan McKeag, who better be on the list of Mr. Football finalists.
Pick: Apple Valley 21, Chaska 10
totino-grace (3-1) AT st. michael-albertville (4-0), 7 P.M.
Jim says: This is a chance for St. Michael-Albertville to make a definitive statement about its postseason legitimacy, on homecoming, by defeating the defending Class 6A champs. Totino-Grace is battle-weary after four meat-grinders and the Knights are the best team the Eagles will face all season.
Pick: St. Michael-Albertville 24, Totino-Grace 17
David says: Hey, wait a second. Totino-Grace is a team of solid athletes who work with the metro area’s best coaching staff. Better believe Jeff Ferguson and his assistants devise a defensive game plan to keep the Eagles competitive well into this game. But I can’t bring myself to predict an upset.
Pick: St. Michael-Albertville 20, Totino-Grace 14
mahtomedi (4-0) AT south st. paul (3-1), 7 P.M.
Jim says: Mahtomedi shows the signs of a young team gaining confidence, buoyed by a string of victories. Running back Brandon Anderson has become the Zephyrs’ leading rusher, averaging 142 yards per game. Ettinger Field is never a welcoming place for opponents, but Mahtomedi survives.
Pick: Mahtomedi 20,
South St. Paul 12
David says: A great midseason checkpoint for teams aspiring to make deep playoff runs. Both run often and well but also throw for more yards than typically expected. Offensively, Mahtomedi grades out a bit better than the Packers. But playing at home gives South St. Paul an edge in this one.
Pick: South St. Paul 28,