Star Tribune high school sports writer Jim Paulsen (19-5) has emerged as the trusted voice in prep football prognostication. As for colleague David La Vaque (6-18), well, every court needs a jester.
ELK RIVER (7-0) AT ROGERS (6-1), 7 p.m.
Jim says: The question is always whether the opponent has an answer for the Elks’ quick-strike rushing attack. Rogers, on a six-game winning streak, has the look of a team that fits that bill. The defense is sound and the offense is balanced and efficient. Rogers 42, Elk River 36
David says: Rogers has battled Elk River well the past few seasons. But preparing for the Elks remains a bear, let alone on a short week. Running backs Joe Nordstrom (1,054 yards, 13 TDs) and Carter Otto (913, nine TDs) combine to do most of the damage. Elk River 28, Rogers 21
EDEN PRAIRIE (5-2) at ST. MICHAEL-ALBERTVILLE (5-2), 7 p.m.
Jim says: Did Eden Prairie fix what ailed it in routing Prior Lake last week? Expect St. Michael-Albertville to be ready, and a little salty, after getting shut out by Centennial. Thing is, Eden Prairie hasn’t lost three games in a season in at least 20 years, perhaps longer. Eden Prairie 22, St. Michael-Albertville 14
David says: Yes, football now competes in districts. But these teams are better known as Lake Conference members. St. Michael-Albertville, new to the Lake this year, has been touted as a coming Class 6A power. But Eden Prairie wins one for the old guard. Eden Prairie 17, St. Michael-Albertville 10
ST. THOMAS ACADEMY (7-0) AT CHASKA (6-1), 7 p.m.
Jim says: This is the toughest test of the season for St. Thomas, which has steamrolled its way to a perfect record. Both teams are physical and defensive-minded. The Cadets will know they’ve been in a war when the game is over, but they’ll pull it out. St. Thomas Academy 21, Chaska 12
David says: Chaska does a lot of things well on defense. Three shutouts and two games with one touchdown allowed says it all. The Hawks lost to Armstrong, which threw the ball well. That’s not how St. Thomas Academy makes its money. Chaska 28, St. Thomas Academy 14
MINNEAPOLIS SOUTHWEST (6-1) at FRIDLEY (7-0), 7 p.m.
Jim says: Southwest is in the midst of its best season in ages, thanks to talented running back TK Marshall. But the Lakers’ schedule hasn’t been much of a test and Fridley’s defense is fast and punishing. The Tigers will keep Marshall in check. Fridley 32, Minneapolis Southwest 16
David says: Fridley buries its opponents early. The Tigers have outscored teams by a remarkable 206-13 in the first half of games this season. If Southwest gets down in a similar fashion, no running back is going to bring them back. Fridley 48, Minneapolis Southwest 7
LAKEVILLE NORTH (6-1) AT FARMINGTON (5-2), 7 p.m.
Jim says: Farmington is still wondering if anyone got the name of that truck that flattened the Tigers last week when they lost 61-6 to Lakeville South. Farmington better than it looked, but Lakeville North is not a team to get well against. Lakeville North 28, Farmington 14
David says: Lakeville North QB RaJa Nelson is dealing with injury and missed last week’s victory as a precaution. Running back Logan Freeburg took over, running 30 times for 166 yards and three scores. Nelson is questionable for Wednesday but the Panthers have enough. Lakeville North 24, Farmington 17