The regular season’s halfway point is upon us already. Several undefeated teams remain and those below will face perhaps their toughest tests. Meanwhile, back at Star Tribune world headquarters, David La Vaque and Jim Paulsen both sit 7-5 and are eager to get separation this week.
Park of Cottage Grove (2-1) at Apple Valley (3-0), 7 P.M.
Jim says: Park has been a different team at home than on the road. The Wolfpack has averaged 38.5 points in two home games but managed just 14 in a road loss to Mahtomedi. Valley’s stout defense will make life tough for the Park offense.
Pick: Apple Valley 27, Park 14
David says: Park pouted its way through the second half against Mahtomedi, then rebounded last week to rip Hastings 43-14. The Wolfpack will be ready for what’s becoming a great rivalry game.
Pick: Park 42, Apple Valley 38
Roseville (3-0) at East Ridge (2-1), 7 P.M.
Jim says: It’s too late in the season to wonder if Roseville is for real — the Raiders ended that argument when they walloped Stillwater 34-14 last week. But they’ve lost five straight to the Raptors by an average score of 39-13. Can they overcome history?
Pick: East Ridge 24, Roseville 21
David says: History is the best you’ve got, Jim? Let’s talk here and now. Roseville starts fast, having outscored opponents 35-7 in the first half. The Raiders fleet of capable running backs helps produce the team’s first signature victory.
Pick: Roseville 21, East Ridge 14
Breck (3-0) at Minneapolis North (3-0), 4:30 P.M.
Jim says: What a difference talent makes. Breck QB David Roddy has lifted the Mustangs to respectability and its first 3-0 start since 2010. But Minneapolis North is a defending state champ and presents a much greater challenge than anything Breck’s faced so far.
Pick: Minneapolis North 39, Breck 20
David says: Breck must keep the game close and make the Polars work all four quarters. That means having a reliable running game, however. For all the good things the Mustangs do, they average just 3.9 yards per carry. That won’t cut it.
Pick: Minneapolis North 28, Breck 14