What’s this? For most, Thursday night football has come to be associated with a marginally competitive NFL game. So why is there a spate of high school games — 11 to be exact, all in the metropolitan area — scheduled for tonight?
The reason is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which begins at sundown Friday evening. The holiest day of the year for Jews, Yom Kippur is traditionally observed by 25 hours of prayer and fasting. Jews often spend much of the day in synagogue.
Not all schools shifted their games to Thursday. At least a dozen games have been scheduled for an earlier start Friday in the hope they end before sundown. And many schools have chosen not to alter their traditional Friday game time.
DAVID AND JIM’S THURSDAY PICKS
After a perfect 3-0 week, Jim Paulsen (10-5) is feeling a little fat and sassy, taking a two-game lead over compadre David La Vaque (8-7). They agree on all three games this week but a season of unpredictability could throw them both for a loss.
st. paul highland park (3-1) AT SMB Wolfpack (3-1), 7 P.M.
Jim says: For my money, the best single individual performance this season was by Highland Park’s Josh Aune. The future Gopher rushed for 334 yards and six TDs, made 12 tackles, had two sacks and recovered a fumble in a victory over Fridley on Sept. 8. Not sure even the Scots’ superman is enough to hold off Jalen Suggs and the Wolfpack, however.
Pick: SMB 38, St. Paul Highland Park 28
David says: Suggs, the fine sophomore quarterback, gets the ball most often to Alexey Koeckeritz (11 catches, 279 yards) and Terry Lockett Jr. (19-308). Both receivers have three TD catches. SMB ranks seventh in Class 5A with 184.2 passing yards per game and is tied for third with 10 touchdowns. I’ll “air” on the side of the Wolfpack.
Pick: SMB 31, St. Paul Highland Park 21
eden prairie (4-0) AT maple grove (3-1), 7 P.M.
Jim says: Last time these two met, the Eagles hung 63 points on the Crimson in the quarterfinals of the 2016 playoffs. Maple Grove’s current defense is far stingier, but it might not matter. Not even the loss of athletic freak Benny Sapp III to a knee injury has been able to slow down the Eden Prairie juggernaut.
Pick: Eden Prairie 35, Maple Grove 14
David says: Maple Grove running back Evan Hull enjoyed a career night at Burnsville last week with 239 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers will nose-dive against Eden Prairie’s defense. The first unit, led by linebacker Antonio Montero, has not yielded a point in the first half this season.
Pick: Eden Prairie 42, Maple Grove 7
lakeville north (3-1) AT wayzata (1-3), 7 P.M.
Jim says: If not for its loss to Eden Prairie in Week 2 (a big if, I admit) Lakeville North’s already stellar defensive stats would be phenomenal. In their three victories, the Panthers have picked off six passes and held opponents to 379 total yards. Wayzata has struggled to move the ball since losing QB Keaton Heide in Week 1. They’ll struggle again.
Pick: Lakeville North 34, Wayzata 14
David says: Injuries have reduced this season, Wayzata’s first under head coach Lambert Brown, from tantalizing to just transitional. Better days are ahead for the Trojans. At the same time, they aren’t quitting. Expect them to battle Lakeville North, a team that could afford to coast the past few weeks.
Pick: Lakeville North 35, Wayzata 21