Staff picks: Saturday's semifinal football games

  • Updated: November 16, 2012 - 7:02 PM

They agree on two of Saturday's games, so staff writer David La Vaque has three chances to gain ground on frontrunning colleague Jim Paulsen in their season-long battle picking winners. Jim started this week's semifinals with a four-game edge.

CLASS 1A

Dawson-Boyd (11-1) vs. Bethlehem Academy (10-2), 9 a.m.

Jim says: The defending champion Blackjacks have a great nickname, a punishing defense and an offense that moves the ball on the ground and in the air, and they are comfortable playing in the Metrodome. That's a winning hand. Pick: Dawson-Boyd 21, Bethlehem Academy 12

David says: The Cardinals are state semifinals first-timers but packed accordingly for the trip. The offense scored a combined 99 points in the past two games while the defense hasn't allowed more than 14 points in a game all season. Pick: Bethlehem Academy 28, Dawson-Boyd 20

Mahnomen (12-0) vs. Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (9-2), 11:30 a.m.

Jim says: No team among the 28 semifinalists has been as dominant at Mahnomen. The Indians have given up just six touchdowns all season and shut out six opponents. Scoring on Mahnomen is tough enough. Pick: Mahnomen 24, ACGC 0

David says: I'll only add this: Mahnomen is hungry to finish the job after going home as the runner-up last season. And with all those other attributes, it's hard to pick against Mahnomen. Pick: Mahnomen 28, ACGC 7

CLASS 3A

Annandale (10-1) vs. Rochester Lourdes (12-0), 2 p.m.

Jim says: Annandale quarterback John Kalthoff is a senior leader who can carry his team when needed, as he did with a game-winning TD run in the final minute of a quarterfinals victory over New London-Spicer. He makes the difference. Pick: Annandale 24, Rochester Lourdes 21

David says: Several seniors return from the Eagles team that won the 2010 title. They have that look again thanks to four running backs near or beyond the 800-yard rushing mark. The quartet has combined for 56 touchdowns. Pick: Rochester Lourdes 20, Annandale 14

Perham (10-1) vs. Blue Earth (11-0), 4:30 p.m.

Jim says: The state's best player you've never heard of -- but college recruiters have -- is Perham QB Jordan Hein, a dual threat who has accounted for more than 2,500 total yards. In the postseason, Perham is averaging more than 40 points per game. Pick: Perham 28, Blue Earth 23

David says: Having held typically explosive St. Croix Lutheran to a season-low 12 points last week, Blue Earth's defense will answer the bell again. If the Buccaneers can be a little more crisp in the passing game, they can put real pressure on Perham. Pick: Blue Earth 30, Perham 21

CLASS 5A

Bemidji (9-3) vs. Totino-Grace (11-0), 7 p.m.

Jim says: In coach Jeff Ferguson's 11 seasons, the Eagles have won six state championships and compiled a 21-2 state tournament record. That history, plus a defense that adjusts better than any in the state, is difficult to pick against. Pick: Totino-Grace 28, Bemidji 14

David says: Bemidji made a memorable title game run last season with a semifinal shocker against No. 1 Mankato West. But Totino-Grace, from its Class 6A-heavy schedule to its playoff experience to its stout defense, is virtually upset-proof. Pick: Totino-Grace 27, Bemidji 7

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