Staff writers David La Vaque and Jim Paulsen disagree on just about everything. David has won each of the past two weeks. Is there time to overcome Jim's big early lead? Jim 17, David 10.
David says: Maple Grove 21, St. Michael-Albertville 16
Hardened by a schedule of rugged Northwest Suburban Conference opponents and Eden Prairie, the Crimson will relish its chance to be giving the lumps. New coach Matt Lombardi built this team to compete at its best in late October and early November, so watch for Maple Grove to move on to the semifinals.
Jim says: St. Michael-Albertville 24, Maple Grove 17
St. Michael-Albertville broke out of an offensive funk with 42 points against Elk River on Wednesday. That bodes well for a team whose calling card has been defense all season. Maple Grove QB Brady Jacobs will not see the open passing lanes he saw against Centennial last week.
David says: Hopkins 35, Edina 31
Hopkins has struggled to stop teams in recent weeks, so the offense must deliver to prolong the second season. And it will. The Royals will force Edina to play firewagon football, a style that their strong skill players will use to their advantage.
Jim says: Edina 26, Hopkins 14
Edina might be the best .500 team in the metro. The Hornets' four losses have been to teams with a combined record of 29-3. After being bludgeoned by Wayzata and Eden Prairie in back-to-back games, the offense broke out with 46 points in a season-ending rout of North St. Paul. The Hornets held Hopkins to only one touchdown in a 14-7 on Sept. 30. Expect a similar result.
David says: Shakopee 21, Chanhassen 7
In terms of playoff football, Shakopee is made of the right stuff. Keeping the ball on the ground minimizes risks while maximizing time of possession and puts a hurt on the opposition's psyche. The Sabers rush for more than 350 yards a game and those numbers equal postseason success.
Jim says: Chanhassen 28, Shakopee 15
Which Chanhassen team will show up? The snake-bit group that lost its first four games by a total of 23 points? Or the team that has reeled off four victories in a row, finding a way to turn those close losses in their favor? It says here that the Storm, which lost to Shakopee on a last-second field goal in Week 2, will pull off the biggest upset of the first round.