Why Orono will win

In his preseason prospectus, Spartans coach Jeff Weiland took caution against being too optimistic, but the anticipation for this season was obvious. Orono returned all of its skill-position players from 2014. It shows in how smoothly the offense, with QB Hank Seward conducting, has functioned. The Spartans have outscored opponents 50-6 in the first quarter, giving a young defense room to develop. And now that shifty slot back Blake Leischow is back in the mix after missing the first two games, Orono looks even more dangerous.

Why Holy Angels will win

Despite the departure of coach Ray Betton to Shakopee and the installation of a new offense by coach Jim Gunderson, the Stars have continued their winning ways. Holy Angels is 14-2 over its past 16 games, with both losses coming to Hutchinson in the Class 4A state tournament. WR/strong safety Danny Hoffman has been invaluable on both sides of the ball. Sophomore quarterback Joe Heimbold has played like a wily vet, running Gunderson’s veer offense smoothly.

JIM PAULSEN