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Prep football predictions: A monster matchup in Class 6A

By David La Vaque and Jim Paulsen, Star Tribune, 10/19/21, 5:15PM CDT


Wayzata will play host to Farmington on Thursday night. (Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune)

After trailing in the picks competition all season, Jim Paulsen finally moved ahead of David La Vaque by going 5-0 last week. With one set of regular-season games left, Jim’s season record is 19-10; David sits at 17-12.

Five more picks this week as David looks to regain his touch.


Fridley (5-2) at Columbia Heights (5-2), 7 p.m.

Jim says: This is one of the bigger games in recent memory in this Hwy. 65 Showdown. These two sit 1-2 in Class 4A, Section 4, with the winner likely taking the No. 1 seed. Both defenses have shut out back-to-back opponents, but I don’t see Columbia Heights keeping Fridley QB M.J. Newton down. He’s a game-changer. The pick: Fridley 34, Columbia Heights 20

David says: A cold and wet Wednesday forecast means the focus shifts from quarterbacks to running backs. That’s good news for Columbia Heights, led by senior RB Jonathon Hackett (8.1 yards per carry and 14 touchdowns). Also, watch for Hylanders 6-7 tight end Spencer Alvarez, who committed to the Gophers. The pick: Columbia Heights 28, Fridley 21

Providence Academy (7-0) vs. SMB (5-2), at Blake, 7 p.m.

Jim says: How good has Providence Academy been this season? The Lions laid waste to seven previous opponents, with only one game decided by fewer than 20 points. The offense, wealthy with runners, rushes for more than 300 yards per game. The defense has been equally good, with 27 sacks and 18 forced turnovers. The pick: Providence Academy 28, SMB 18

David says: After failing midseason tests against Minneapolis North and Park Center, the Wolfpack are back on the hunt. Senior RB Sanjay Redd, already a standout, has gone to another level. He’s run for 445 yards and six TDs the past two weeks. SMB is eager to enter the playoffs with a quality victory. The pick: SMB 31, Providence Academy 24

Spectrum (5-2) at Mound Westonka (7-0), 7 p.m.

Jim says: Since their breakout year in 2015 , few metro teams have been more successful in the regular season than Mound Westonka. The White Hawks are 45-8 in regular-season games since then. It’s the postseason where they’ve struggled. This could be their best team, however. Talent is in abundance, led by QB Jake Gaylord. The pick: Mound Westonka 40, Spectrum 28

David says: Spectrum, located in Elk River, is enjoying its best season since 2018. And the Sting, a Class 3A program, is 2-0 against 4A programs this season. Punching up won’t end so well this time. Mound Westonka’s defense has allowed only one touchdown in the past two games. The pick: Mound Westonka 28, Spectrum 14


Farmington (4-3) at Wayzata (5-2), 6 p.m.

Jim says: Farmington is playing its best football of the season, with back-to-back victories over Rosemount and Lakeville North, the latter on a hook-and-lateral on the game’s final play. Which Wayzata team will show up: The one that was dominant through the season’s first four games or the one whose offense was nonexistent in losses to Centennial and Maple Grove? The pick: Wayzata 32, Farmington 27

David says: Farmington can relate to Wayzata’s identity crisis. The Tigers were 1-3 before those aforementioned victories got them rolling. Senior RB Rod Finley did his part, storming to 416 yards and seven touchdowns in the past three games. More good news for Finley and Farmington’s offensive line: Wayzata’s defense can be had. The pick: Farmington 30 Wayzata 21

Stillwater (7-0) at Eden Prairie (6-1), 7 p.m.

Jim says: This is the ultimate test for Stillwater. The Ponies have improved all year, but they’ve played a Class 6A Maroon schedule. Are the Ponies as good as their record indicates? They’re certainly talented, but can they stand up to the relentless heavy machinery of Eden Prairie on the road? Stillwater’s undefeated record is no fluke, but few teams can say they’ve won at Eden Prairie. The pick: Eden Prairie 26, Stillwater 14

David says: There’s a lot to like about Stillwater, including QB Max Shikenjanski and RB Edward O’Keefe. Trouble is, Eden Prairie’s junior-heavy defense has only gotten better this season. They haven’t allowed a touchdown in three of the past four games. And the Eagles are riding a streak of eight consecutive quarters without permitting a point. The pick: Eden Prairie 29, Stillwater 8

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Wayzata will play host to Farmington on Thursday night. (Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune)