The final five Prep Bowl teams will be determined Saturday in semifinal games in Class 1A, 3A and 5A. The Star Tribune's David La Vaque and Jim Paulsen size up the matchups and offer their picks.
CLASS 1A BROWERVILLE/EAGLE VALLEY (10-1) vs. BOLD (12-0), 9 A.M.
David says: Quarterback Jordan Sagedahl and BOLD, ranked No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll, return to avenge a narrow Prep Bowl loss last season. Sagedahl challenges defenses with his ability to throw deep and on the money. BOLD 28, Browerville/EV 14
Jim says: BOLD has unfinished business after its heartbreaking loss to Mahnomen/Waubun in the 2018 final. Sagedahl's injured ankle is no longer a factor, giving the Warriors a run/pass balance that makes them difficult to stop. BOLD 33, Browerville/EV 20
CLASs 1A ADA-BORUP (10-1) vs. BLOOMING PRAIRIE (11-0), 11:30 A.M.
David says: No. 2 Blooming Prairie lived up to its Awesome Blossoms nickname as the highest-scoring team (49.5 points per game) in Class 1A. Ada-Borup, ranked fourth, has given up only 16 points in its past three games. Blooming Prairie 42, Ada-Borup 28
Jim says: Blooming Prairie QB Kaden Thomas has passed for more than 2,300 yards and 42 TDs, and completed more than 70-percent of his passes. Ada-Borup will have to lean on RB Verdis Barber to shorten the game and limit possessions for the high-scoring Awesome Blossoms. Blooming Prairie 46, Ada-Borup 26
CLASS 3A DASSEL-COKATO (9-3) vs. ANNANDALE (11-1), 2 P.M.
David says: Dassel-Cokato returns to the state tournament for the first time since 1973. Annandale qualified last year but didn't get to U.S. Bank Stadium. So experience is a wash. Dassel-Cokato's comeback last week impressed. Dassel-Cokato 21, Annandale 17
Jim says: Among Annandale's victories was a 28-20 decision over Dassel-Cokato in the regular-season finale. Love the Cardinals' spunky 5-3 RB Rogan Kuser, who makes up in tenacity what he lacks in height. Can D-C stop Annandale's running attack? Annandale 21, Dassel-Cokato 16
CLASs 3A JACKSON COUNTY CENTRAL (11-0) vs. PIERZ (12-0), 4:30 P.M.
David says: Jackson County Central was ranked No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll, right behind Pierz. The top-ranked Pioneers dispatched No. 3 Albany in the Section 6 final and won't be denied. Pierz 31, Jackson County Central 21
Jim says: Pierz running back Matthias Algarin's speed and elusiveness have earned him a walk-on spot with the University of Nebraska football and track teams. He and backfield mate Blake Kowalczyk juice the Pioneers' wishbone attack. Pierz 41, Jackson County Central 24
CLASs 5A ST. THOMAS ACADEMY (10-1) vs. ELK RIVER (11-1), 7 P.M.
David says: Elk River's defense can be had. But is St. Thomas Academy dynamic enough to pounce? Running back Danny McFadden (11.2 yards per carry, six touchdowns in the section playoffs) and Love Adebayo (9.7, three) are the big-play guys. Elk River 42, St. Thomas Academy 35
Jim says: Elk River has become the metro's most entertaining team despite rarely throwing the ball. The Elks are always a threat to break off a big play, even against the most disciplined of defenses. Can the Cadets score enough to keep up? Elk River 38, St. Thomas Academy 30