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The second half of the regular season begins Friday night. The evenings get cooler and the games get bigger as teams jockey for conference honors and postseason seeds. Here are picks for three games with significant conference implications.
Records so far: Jim Paulsen 13-5, David La Vaque 9-9.
Andover (4-0) at Osseo (3-1), 7 p.m. Friday
David says: Osseo players gathered after Tuesday’s practice and yelled at me in unison, “David, pick us!” How can I not? Matt Miedtke gets the better of Connor Wilkie in a great quarterback matchup.
Pick: Osseo 28, Andover 24
Jim says: These two teams are so evenly matched, with quality quarterbacks and explosive offenses, that I’m expecting one of the season’s best games. Edge to Andover’s quick-strike capabilities — a late TD, perhaps?
Pick: Andover 34, Osseo 31
Farmington (4-0) at Chaska (4-0), 7 p.m. Friday
David says: Chaska roared back to win its first game this season and has shown no signs of letting up. The Hawks’ option offense, keyed by QB Justin Arnold and RB Kolby Seiffert, will be too much to handle.
Pick: Chaska 28, Farmington?14
Jim says: On paper, a lock for Chaska as Farmington has taken advantage of a relatively easy schedule. Yet winning has boosted the Tigers’ confidence and there’s no better motivator than being underestimated.
Pick: Farmington 30, Chaska?28
Stillwater (3-1) at Mounds View (3-1), 7 p.m. Friday
David says: Two teams coming off a loss with something to prove. Stillwater stole Cretin-Derham Hall’s ESPN thunder, then collapsed late against Hastings. The Ponies should be ornery and ready to battle.
Pick: Stillwater 21, Mounds View 17
Jim says: Mounds View lost at home to Cretin-Derham Hall last week. It’s been eight years since the Mustangs have lost two home games in the same season. A wounded Mustang is something to fear.
Pick: Mounds View 20, Stillwater 14