By John Millea
It’s a pretty simple deal this week. Six games, six picks and then we all put away the pads for the year.
We’ll break a little from the usual format and discuss these games one at a time, at which point I will reveal my predictions. This week they come from a combination of sources: the Farmer’s Almanac, Nostradamus and Punxsutawney Phil. Gee, groundhogs are smelly.
But first, let’s reflect for a moment on my picks from last week’s state semifinals. It was a whiz-bang performance in the 5A, 4A and 3A games; I got every one of ‘em right. Yup, I went 6-0 in those games.
The story was a little different in 2A, 1A and Nine-Man. My hat is off to the Vikings of Minneota, who defeated the Awesome Blossoms of Blooming Prairie … which gave me exactly one correct prediction in the three smaller classes. Yes, that is correct. I went 1-5 in those games. I may have to turn in my Small Town USA ID card.
But enough of last week. This week is this week and it’s time to go to the picks.
John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/stribjohn
State semifinals record: 7-5
Season record: 180-66
Prep Bowl predictions
Cretin-Derham Hall (11-1) vs. Eden Prairie (12-0)
Until last Friday I was convinced, like most fans, that Eden Prairie stood head and shoulders above every other team in Minnesota … well, the Eagles only stood four points above Wayzata, their quarterfinal opponent. But then came Cretin-Derham Hall, rocking and rolling over Brainerd 45-19 in the semifinals. The Raiders have been as unsteady as a tipsy canoe at times this season but they put it all together in an impressive performance last week. Cretin is 1-5 in Prep Bowls and Eden Prairie is 6-0 in the Big Show. But history means less to Cretin this week than its ability to run the ball and protect QB Mark Alt. That’s what it will take to beat Eden Prairie, and that’s what I think will happen.
John’s pick: Cretin-Derham Hall 24, Eden Prairie 21
Sartell (13-0) vs. Totino-Grace (12-0)
Talk about two teams that have had tremendous seasons; Sartell and Totino-Grace have met every challenge and won every game. The Sabres pulled out a thrilling victory over St. Thomas Academy last week while Totino-Grace steamrolled defending state champ Mankato West. Totino has been to five previous Prep Bowls and owns four titles. I think this is the best team in Totino-Grace history, which means the Eagles are good enough to win another championship.
John’s pick: Totino-Grace 27, Sartell 17
Glencoe-Silver Lake (13-0) vs. New London-Spicer (13-0)
Glencoe is playing for its fourth consecutive state title, so we know the Panthers have all kinds of experience and tradition. New London-Spicer made its first trip to state last year and lost to DeLaSalle in the semifinals. This New London team is better than last year’s team, but are the Wildcats good enough to beat Glencoe-Silver Lake? I think they’re good enough to play with the Panthers and push them hard, but in the end Glencoe-Silver Lake is still the team to beat.
John’s pick: Glencoe-Silver Lake 28, New London-Spicer 21
Moose Lake-Willow River (13-0) vs. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (11-1)
As was made clear in last week’s games, I am now delving into dangerous predicting territory. Both teams have won close games in the state tournament, with Moose Lake-Willow River winning by six (in overtime) and six and W-E-M winning by seven and one (in overtime). It’s clear that both teams play with confidence in close games and do not wilt. This is maybe the toughest Prep Bowl game to figure, because part of the equation is the competition these teams have faced. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown’s last two opponents were two-time state champ Caledonia and Dome regular Eden Valley-Watkins. That’s enough reason for me to pick W-E-M.
John’s pick: Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 28, Moose Lake-Willow River 20
Adrian (11-2) vs. Minneota (13-0)
This is not only for a state championship, it will also decide the ultimate best team in the Little Sioux Conference in 2009. Minneota defeated Adrian 43-13 in a conference game that opened the season. A lot has happened since then and Adrian has won close games in putting together a terrific run to the Prep Bowl. These two teams have split their last six meetings but I see Minneota getting a sweep in 2009.
John’s pick: Minneota 27, Adrian 14
Stephen-Argyle (12-1) vs. Nicollet (10-2)
I predicted Nicollet losses in the last two rounds and was wrong both times. Thus, I have suspended my campaign to become the town dog catcher in Nicollet because I do not believe I can muster enough support to get elected. I also picked against Stephen-Argyle in two of the Storm’s last three games, proving how much I know. One of the most impressive victories of all the state semifinal games was Stephen-Argyle’s win over Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley. I am convinced.
John’s pick: Stephen-Argyle 32, Nicollet 30
More from Star Tribune
More From Sports
Digging into Minnesota's record fish: What's ready to be topped? What's arguably out of reach?
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr is not yet ready to return to the bench as the franchise prepares for its third straight trip to the NBA Finals.
Bud Grant's vision met resistance from the league, novelty-maker.
John Thomas grew up in Minneapolis, becoming a prep star at Roosevelt High School before playing at the University of Minnesota and bouncing around the NBA for five seasons.
Shrugging off fatigue from last week's victory, Bernhard Langer shot a 7-under 65 Thursday to take the early lead in the first round of the Senior PGA Championship.