Given high school sports reporter Jim Paulsen's dominance (16-5), David La Vaque (6-15) is looking forward to the fast-approaching playoffs as a chance to regroup and gain ground.


Jim says: Totino-Grace is back among the elite but faces its toughest test of the season. The expected wet and cold conditions favor a strong running game and Champlin Park not only runs it well, but also stops opponents from doing so. Champlin Park 17, Totino-Grace 10

David says: The Totino-Grace defense has allowed just one runner to surpass 100 yards this season. Meanwhile, Champlin Park junior running back Shawn Shipman has gained 179 yards or more three times. Shipman will do damage. Just not enough. Totino-Grace 24, Champlin Park 14

TARTAN (6-0) at SIMLEY (6-0), 7 p.m.

Jim says: Simley is a pleasant surprise at 6-0 and has the pieces to justify it — good team speed, strong defense and a star running back in Hope Adebayo. Thing is, everything the Spartans have, Tartan has as well. And more of it. Tartan 24, Simley 18

David says: You know what else Tartan has? Revenge on its mind. Simley blanked the Titans last year for one of its four victories all season. Speaking of shutouts, the Spartans have two this season. Stingy defense gets the nod. Simley 21, Tartan 14


Jim says: Four of St. Michael-Albertville's five victories were one-score games into the fourth quarter. That's living dangerously, particularly against a Centennial team that picks up yards in big chunks on the ground. If the Cougars avoid turnovers, they win. Centennial 22, St. Michael-Albertville 16.

David says: The key to defeating Centennial starts with limiting senior quarterback Connor "The Incredible" Zulk. His dual-threat capabilities earned him the nickname I just thought of. Edge to St. Michael-Albertville, however, for holding several quarterbacks in check this season. St. Michael-Albertville 28, Centennial 21