David La Vaque, welcome back.
David and Jim Paulsen, staff writers for the Star Tribune, found nothing they could agree on when they tried to pick winners of three games in Week 5 of the high school football season. Turns out Jim would have been smarter to follow David to the window, to invoke the language of horse racing.
David was right in two of three cases, running his record to 11-7 this season. Jim was therefore wrong in exactly as many cases, and his record fell to 12-6. Yes, to invoke the language of horse racing again, it's a horse race.
Their picks and analysis for Week 6:
Stillwater Ponies (5-0) at Forest Lake Rangers (5-0), 7 p.m.
Jim says: Is Forest Lake the best story in Class 6A? After years of being a pushover, the Rangers are the ones doing the pushing with a defense giving up just 83.2 rushing yards per game. Their five victories is the program's highest single-season total in more than two decades. Stillwater, guided by Max Shikenjanski, the metro's top quarterback this season, is Forest Lake's biggest test yet. The pick: Stillwater 30, Forest Lake 23
David says: Forest Lake is the feel-good story of Class 6A, sure. Stillwater aims to end those warm and fuzzies — if the Ponies defense can stop QB Keagan Zeidler and RB Leyton Patzer. A dual threat, Zeidler (847 total yards and 10 touchdowns) can hurt teams with his arm and legs. Meanwhile, Patzer has rushed for 712 yards and nine scores. As for Shikenjanski, colder temperatures could ground him. The pick: Forest Lake 28, Stillwater 21
St. Thomas Academy Cadets (5-0) at Mahtomedi Zephyrs (5-0), 7 p.m.
Jim says: With all due respect to highly ranked Mankato West and Elk River, this is the game of the year in Class 5A. This is a typical St. Thomas Academy product: proficient at both running the ball and stopping the other guys from doing so. Thing is, no one has shut down Mahtomedi RB Corey Bohmert yet. He's averaging 220 yards and three touchdowns per game. The pick: Mahtomedi 22, St. Thomas Academy 21
David says: St. Thomas Academy's defense won't shy away from the Bohmert challenge. The Cadets have allowed 27 points all year and zero in the first half. Opponents have managed just 2.8 yards per carry. If STA can get ahead early and turn to its running game, Mahtomedi will be looking at its first loss. The pick: St. Thomas Academy 14, Mahtomedi 10
Providence Academy Lions (3-2) at Concordia Academy Beacons (5-0), 7 p.m.
Jim says: It must be frustrating at times to be a good small-school football team toiling in the overwhelming shadow of large-school programs. Concordia Academy is one of just 14 undefeated teams in the metro. Rugged defense has been Providence's style to date, but Concordia's strong fundamental style of play should pay off enough to keep its streak alive. The pick: Concordia Academy 20, Providence Academy 14
David says: Expect a better showing from Concordia Academy, which lost this matchup 35-3 last season. But the Beacons deserve to be the underdogs until proving otherwise. I'm betting they do just that Friday. Concordia Academy, located in Roseville, has scored at least five touchdowns in each of the past four games. The Beacons tame the Lions. The pick: Concordia Academy 31, Providence Academy 20