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This is the last Friday of the regular season. Next week’s games are on Wednesday because of Education Minnesota (formerly MEA) conferences. Playoffs begin Oct. 22. This week’s games feature teams trying to prove themselves. One is upstart Tartan. Two others — Wayzata and Chanhassen — started slowly but are starting to live up to preseason expectations.
Records so far: Jim Paulsen 15-9, David La Vaque 14-10.
Wayzata (4-1) at Eden Prairie (5-0), 7 p.m. Friday
David says: Wayzata as a decided underdog? Doesn’t happen often, but it shows how far Eden Prairie is ahead of the field. The Eagles took another step last week by dominating the fourth quarter against Minnetonka. Expect Wayzata to battle but count on Eden Prairie to prevail.
Pick: Eden Prairie 28, Wayzata 14
Jim says: No question Wayzata is a better team now than early on after eking out an overtime victory in Week 1 before losing in Week 2. But in terms of sheer ability on offense, Eden Prairie has a decided advantage. The Eagles have yet to unfurl a passing game that exists but hasn’t been needed.
Pick: Eden Prairie 24, Wayzata 14
Tartan (5-1) at Benilde-St. Margaret’s (4-2), 7 p.m. Friday
David says: An overtime victory against a good Mahtomedi team last week showed Tartan’s character. The Titans offense can hurt opponents in different ways and that means trouble for Benilde-St. Margaret’s inconsistent defense.
Pick: Tartan 30, Benilde-St. Margaret’s 21
Jim says: Which Benilde-St. Margaret’s team will show up? The one that throttled Albany in the season opener or the one that gave up 58 points at home to Fridley? QB Keaton Studsrud and the Red Knights want to show that homecoming debacle was a fluke.
Pick: Benilde-St. Margaret’s 42, Tartan 30
Shakopee (4-2) at Chanhassen (4-2), 7 p.m. Friday
David says: Chanhassen,which started the season 0-2, is rolling now. Four consecutive victories featured a rejuvenated running game (359.8 yards per game) and stingy defense (two shutouts). That’s a winning combination as the season winds down.
Pick: Chanhassen 24, Shakopee 14
Jim says: The best way to slow down a potent offense? Keep it on the sidelines. Shakopee’s ball-control offense will do just that, limiting Chanhassen’s possessions and shortening the game. Look for the Sabers to pull out a close one in a hard-hitting battle.
Pick: Shakopee 16, Chanhassen 14