“Welcome Back, Football” continues Friday. Staff writers Jim Paulsen and David La Vaque ponder which teams will shine brightest under the week’s second night of lights.
MINNEAPOLIS NORTH AT ST. PAUL JOHNSON, 4 P.M.
Jim says: How good has Minneapolis North been in recent years? In the past five seasons, North is 40-0 during the regular season and 58-4 overall. The Polars have not lost to a Minneapolis or St. Paul City Conference team since 2013. That streak will continue. Minneapolis North 36, Johnson 18
David says: Too bad this game, featuring the best the two big cities have to offer this fall, isn’t later in the season. Both teams return strong offensive lines, but the edge in playmakers goes to North, led by QB Zach Yeager. Minneapolis North 35, St. Paul Johnson 21
ORONO AT BENILDE-ST. MARGARET’S, 7 P.M.
David says: An Orono team focused on getting mentally tougher gets a strong first test in the Red Knights, a potential section opponent. Expect new Spartans coach Joe McPherson to lean on RB Nick Ruhland and a solid defense. Orono 21, Benilde-St. Margaret’s 17
Jim says: The Orono defense is tough and fast. Benilde-St. Margaret’s running back Isaiah Smith is also tough and fast. The Spartans’ defense will need to be gap-sound and tackle well as Smith can go the distance on any play. Orono 20, Benilde-St. Margaret’s 14
RICHFIELD AT ST. CROIX LUTHERAN, 7 P.M.
David says: After going 6-31 the past four seasons, Richfield has dropped from Class 4A to 3A in hopes of finding a better competitive fit. But the 0-19 slump continues against the Crusaders, Prep Bowl runner-up in two of the past three seasons. St. Croix Lutheran 31, Richfield 14
Jim says: Now-retired St. Croix Lutheran coach Carl Lemke built a high-performing program by leaning on a few stellar athletes and stressing discipline and precision. The hunch is those qualities remain in abundance for new coach Adam Frey. St. Croix Lutheran 34, Richfield 20