Finally, some controversy this season. With a 3-0 week, Jim Paulsen (13-8) moved to within one game of David La Vaque (14-7). But wait! St. Paul Central was forced to vacate its last-minute victory over Minneapolis North on Sept. 18 because of an ineligible player. David, who picked Central, refuses to give up the victory. Jim, who picked North, says a victory is a victory, regardless of how it happened. That would flip-flop the standings, with Jim taking a one-game lead. Who’s right?
Maple Grove (4-2) at Prior Lake (4-2), 7 p.m.
Jim says: Without knowing the behind-the-scenes dirt, this is about as even as it gets. Both lost to Eden Prairie. Maple Grove defeated Wayzata, Prior Lake did not. The Lakers remember Maple Grove ending their season in the 2014 Class 6A quarterfinals. I’m going with the home team.
Pick: Prior Lake 17, Maple Grove 14
David says: One of these teams must settle for being the state’s best three-loss team. Maple Grove has impressed of late, handling Wayzata and getting stronger as the Minnetonka game wore on. Winning teams tend to stay in motion.
Pick: Maple Grove 24, Prior Lake 21
Rosemount (6-0) at Burnsville (5-1), 7 p.m.
Jim says: Rosemount, despite losing 20 starters from 2014, has fine-tuned itself for tough finishing games. Its defense is strong, as usual. Burnsville’s defense may be even better. The Blaze would love to show they are a serious state championship contender with a victory over a traditional power in front of the home crowd.
Pick: Burnsville 24, Rosemount 20
David says: Jim wrote a great feature on Rosemount last week and now picks against the Irish? No sweat. Rosemount has answered all doubters with a 6-0 start. The read-option offense and a tough defense keeps the Irish unbeaten.
Pick: Rosemount 28, Burnsville 14
Orono (6-0) at Chaska (5-1), 7 p.m.
Jim says: If Orono’s players were just a little bigger, I’d have the talented Spartans among the top teams in the metro, regardless of class. QB Hank Seward, WR Blake Leischow and RB David McCuskey — none taller than 5-10 — are as dynamic an offensive trio as you’ll find in the metro.
Pick: Orono 37, Chaska 33
David says: In five consecutive victories, Chaska has outscored opponents 179-26. Quarterback Alex Strazzanti has made the correct reads often. Those playmaking and game-breaking skills will lock up a share of the Suburban White subdistrict title.
Pick: Chaska 35, Orono 24