Not much drama this week as staff writers Jim Paulsen (13-5) and David La Vaque (11-7) agree on all three games. Look at it this way: It’s motivation for the underdogs.
Rogers (4-1) at Elk River (5-0), 7 p.m.
Jim says: Elk River has shown it can score with anybody, with an offense averaging more than 460 yards rushing and 45 points per game. Rogers’ defense has blanked Buffalo and St. Francis back-to-back. Thing is, Class 5A’s top-ranked Elks have a defense that’s equally as good. That balance will decide it.
Pick: Elk River 35, Rogers 24
David says: Yes, the Rogers defense has been a model of consistency. The same cannot be said about the Royals’ offense to this point. Winning this game will require executing plays and finishing drives. Those are things Rogers simply will be unable to do against Elk River’s defense.
Pick: Elk River 21, Rogers 14
Champlin Park (4-1) at Totino-Grace (5-0), 7 p.m.
Jim says: Call the Eagles’ 21-14 victory over a determined Blaine team last week a wake-up call for Totino-Grace. Ranked No. 1 in Class 6A, the Eagles never established the run and had a lack of speed on its defensive perimeter exposed. Coach Jeff Ferguson is a peerless defensive coach and a master motivator. Believe me, he’ll have the Eagles on point this week.
Pick: Totino-Grace 31, Champlin Park 14
David says: Running back Ivan Burlak, Totino-Grace’s leading rusher, lives near Champlin Park. Something tells me the lad makes a few big plays in this game. Kudos to the Rebels for fighting their way into the mix of attention-worthy teams but this season is all about Totino-Grace.
Pick: Totino-Grace 28, Champlin Park 16
Hutchinson (5-0) at Litchfield (5-0), 7 p.m.
Jim says: All seems right with the prep football world when Hutchinson is plying its freight-train running game and laying waste to everything in its path. The Tigers have thrown the ball just 29 times because they have controlled the clock and the game on the ground. Litchfield is more explosive on offense, but it won’t matter if the Dragons don’t have the ball.
Pick: Hutchinson 39, Litchfield 20
David says: QB Josh Prahl and receivers Brandon Nelson and Dylan Madsen make the Litchfield passing attack flourish. But as game temperatures drop into the 40s, Hutchinson RB Isaiah Nelson and the Tigers’ ground game take over. A Hutch victory pretty well wraps up the East Central South subdistrict title.
Pick: Hutchinson 35, Litchfield 14