Staff writers Jim Paulsen and David La Vaque offer their insights and make their picks for three of Friday’s season-opening football games.

HOLY ANGELS AT HILL-MURRAY, 7 P.M.

 

Jim says: Year2 of the Pete Bercich era at Hill-Murray. The Pioneers struggled to score in 2017 and are young again at the skill positions. Facing the defending Class 4A state champs in the season opener is a tough task.

Holy Angels 33, Hill-Murray 14

David says: The defending Class 4A state champs aren’t what they were courtesy of graduation, which took the wealth of the offense. A few remaining veterans combined with a champion’s pride should be enough.

Holy Angels 21, Hill-Murray 10

BRAINERD AT BUFFALO, 7 P.M.

Jim says: Buffalo certainly has the star power to give Brainerd, a Class 5A state tournament semifinalist a year ago, a battle. Aidan Bouman and Treyton Welch are as good a QB/WR combo as you’ll find in the metro. Bison win a wild one.

Buffalo 42, Brainerd 34

David says: Brainerd must find a new focus of its running game. The sense is the Warriors will run by committee, shorten the game and stick around longer than expected.

Buffalo 28, Brainerd 21

ST. CROIX LUTHERAN AT PROVIDENCE ACADEMY, 7 P.M.

Jim says: St. Croix Lutheran had its undefeated season ended by Pierz in the Prep Bowl and suffered significant losses to graduation. The disciplined Crusaders still get the nod, but it won’t be by four TDs like it was in the 2017 season opener.

St. Croix Lutheran 28, Providence 21

David says: Providence Academy is a team loaded with seniors who bring a wealth of experience and athletic ability at the skill positions. And six defensive starters return.

Throw in home-field advantage and it smells of an upset.

Providence 28, St. Croix Lutheran 21