Saturday sees teams in Class 5A through Nine-Man taking the playoff spotlight — rushing, passing and tackling their way toward a section championship game appearance. Staff writers Jim Paulsen and David La Vaque break down three top 5A games.
St. Cloud tech (7-2) at Rogers (6-2), 2 p.m.
David says: Perhaps the metro area’s finest QB-receiver combo resides in Rogers. Cole Larson (1,411 yards, 13 touchdowns) and Eli Solberg (50 receptions, 996 yards, 10 TDs) find holes in coverages and stretch defenses. They make the difference in a shootout.
Pick: Rogers 41, St. Cloud Tech 38
Jim says: For a pass/catch combo, consider St. Cloud Tech QB Nate Trewick (1,698 yards passing, 23 TDs) and TE/WR hybrid Brevyn Spann-Ford, a future Gopher who, at 6-7 and 235 pounds, has 13 TD receptions and is a matchup nightmare. Defensive stops will be at a premium.
Pick: St. Cloud Tech 34, Rogers 31
St. Thomas acad. (5-4) at park of Cottage Grove (6-2), 7 p.m.
David says: Even with QB Grant Glazier battling some upper-body aches and pains, Park holds the edge with its passing game. Two weeks ago, Glazier threw for 222 yards passing and three touchdowns against these same Cadets.
Pick: Park 21, St. Thomas Academy 14
Jim says: Cold weather plays less havoc with a ground attack, which is St. Thomas Academy’s forte. Still, the Cadets had trouble scoring all year and will need to make the most of their chances. Park pulls out a closer-than-expected victory.
Pick: Park 20, St. Thomas Academt 12
Mound Westonka (8-1) at holy angels (7-1), 7 p.m.
David says: Kudos to Mound Westonka, which last week won its first playoff game in 30 years. Quarterback Brandon Hokkanen throws a nice ball and senior Bobby Sweet ran well all season. But an elite Class 5A team such as Holy Angels is a new and formidable challenge.
Pick: Holy Angels 42, Mound Westonka 24
Jim says: When LB/RB Jack Anderson was lost for the season with a knee injury, it looked damaging to the Stars’ postseason chances. Yet they finished the regular season by routing Waconia and Orono. QB Joe Heimbold has 546 yards of total offense in Anderson’s absence.
Pick: Holy Angels 37, Mound Westonka 16