And the comeback begins. Staff writer David La Vaque (18-22 overall) had the better of the picks last Friday, selecting four of five winners. Jim Paulsen (31-9), on the other hand, wilted in the postseason glare, getting just two of five right. Here are their takes on the state tournament games on Thursday:
ROSEMOUNT (7-3) VS. CHAMPLIN PARK (8-1), AT PARK CENTER, 7 p.m.
Jim says: Two gritty squads that play sore-loser defense but have playmakers to keep those defenses honest. Rosemount's last loss was Oct. 4, to Champlin Park. The Irish know what to expect from the Rebels. And defeating Eden Prairie last week is a confidence-booster. Rosemount 20, Champlin Park 10
David says: Champlin Park's defense, led by LBs Obi Evuleocha and Noah Link, showed no ill effects of a first-round bye. The offense was another matter in a 16-7 win over Prior Lake. Bet QB Jaice Miller and Co. will be back in rhythm. Champlin Park 24, Rosemount 17
SHAKOPEE (5-5) VS. LAKEVILLE NORTH (9-1), AT STILLWATER, 7 p.m.
Jim says: Getting this far is a huge achievement for Shakopee, which is making just its second state tournament appearance. But it gets defending champion Lakeville North, which knows what it takes to win at this time of year. Lakeville North 22, Shakopee 6
David says: Farmington exposed Shakopee's pass defense woes. Lakeville North QB RaJa Nelson and RB Logan Freeburg will test the Sabers' ability to stop the run. If strong safety Connor Raines and company are on their game, maybe Shakopee isn't done. Lakeville North 21, Shakopee 14