High school sports reporter Jim Paulsen went into Friday’s games with a big lead over colleague David La Vaque, but that was based on regular season results. And just as teams welcome the chance to go into the postseason with a clean slate, La Vaque sees playoff picks as a chance at redemption.
elk river (8-1) AT rogers (7-1), 3 p.m.
Jim says: A little more than a week ago, Rogers pulled out a thrilling 40-36 victory over the Elks in the regular-season finale. Expect an equally competitive matchup this time around. If these teams played 10 times, each would win five. This round goes to Elk River. Elk River 44, Rogers 34
David says: Both team excel at offensive fireworks and get by on making a few defensive stops. In other words, take the over in this game. Weather-wise, Saturday afternoon looks glorious for teams that can sling it. Rogers can, and that’s why the Royals win. Rogers 49, Elk River 42
holy angels (5-4) at benilde-st. margaret’s (8-0), 7 p.m.
Jim says: Benilde-St. Margaret’s reflects the gritty attitude of coach Jon Hanks, with a physical, no-nonsense style that wears down opponents. A perfect approach for this time of year. Consistent, no matter the circumstances. Benilde-St. Margaret’s 30, Holy Angels 18
David says: Benilde-St. Margaret’s raced to a three-touchdown lead in a 35-14 regular-season victory against the Stars’ patchwork defense. Holy Angels has rebuilt its defense but the physical Red Knights still have the edge. Benilde-St. Margaret’s 28 Holy Angels 20
minneapolis southwest (7-2) AT cooper (6-2), 5 p.m.
Jim says: Southwest and TK Marshall, the most explosive running back in the metro, have had a terrific season. But the swift Hawks, who are playing well and have something to prove. Cooper 39, Southwest 24
David says: Cooper brings too much to this game. Too much offense. Too much experience against top teams. Southwest and its elite running back will have trouble answering. Cooper 35, Southwest 14