Two reporters for the Star Tribune have made a tradition of seeing who can predict the most winners of high school football games.
Maybe you don't give a darn who David La Vaque and Jim Paulsen think will win. No problem. But stay for the expertise. You'll want to know about the new quarterback at Stillwater, the big numbers St. Agnes is putting up, the clash of old-school and on-the-rise in the game at Eden Prairie.
Oh, you'll want to know this, too: David is 8-4 this season, Jim 6-6.
Their picks and analysis for three Friday night games:
Shakopee Sabers (3-0) at Eden Prairie Eagles (3-0), 7 p.m.
Jim says: Shakopee has been winning games the old-fashioned way: with ball control offense and shut-'em-down defense. Thing is, no team is more accustomed to playing that style of football than Eden Prairie, which has old-fashioned its way to 11 state titles since 1997. The Eagles are patient enough to take what is given and not force the issue. They win a tight one. The pick: Eden Prairie 14, Shakopee 12
David says: Shakopee offers a great deal to like, sure. The question is whether it will be enough. Teams think they can beat Eden Prairie. But the Eagles, with their tradition and athletes, know they can beat any foe. Shakopee's strengths should keep this game close, yes. But Eden Prairie will be ready to pounce on even the slightest mistake. The pick: Eden Prairie 21, Shakopee 17
Stillwater Ponies (2-1) at Mounds View Mustangs (2-1), 7 p.m.
Jim says: Mounds View will need to revisit what worked in its first two games of the season, when the Mustangs held opponents to a single touchdown each in a pair of victories, to defeat Stillwater and its versatile offense. The Ponies appear to have found a suitable replacement for graduated quarterback Max Shikenjanski in sophomore Nick Kinsey, who has thrown for eight TDs in three games. The pick: Stillwater 34, Mounds View 16
David says: Mounds View junior quarterback Jacob Sampson made plays as the Mustangs started the season 2-0. Then Forest Lake beat the Mustangs. Stillwater, meanwhile, overcame a Week 1 loss with two quality victories on the road and has no desire to go backward. Ponies sophomore running back Emilio Rosario Matias emerged last week with 21 carries for 114 yards. The pick: Stillwater 28, Mounds View 14
St. Agnes Aggies (3-0) at Holy Family Fire (2-1), 7 p.m.
Jim says: St. Agnes might be the least heralded top-10 team in the metro. The Aggies are ranked No. 7 in Class 2A, led by senior quarterback Landen Mickelson, who's completing passes at more than a 70% clip (31 completions, 44 attempts) for almost 500 yards and five touchdowns. This begins a two-week test against ranked teams for Holy Family, which hosts Byron, No. 4 in 4A, next week. The pick: St. Agnes 35, Holy Family 32
David says: True or false: current Holy Family head coach Dan O'Brien is a former St. Agnes assistant coach? True. He worked with the Aggies program in 2017. Then he left to maintain St. Thomas Academy's place as a 5A power. And now he is trying to jump-start the Fire. Senior quarterback Gavin Frye and junior running back Tanner Davis will lead the Holy Family upset. The pick: Holy Family 31, St. Agnes 28