With the state tournament beginning next week, here are the assessments of six games by staff writers Jim Paulsen (21-17) and David La Vaque (23-15) — games are at 7 p.m. Friday:
Osseo (6-3) at East Ridge (8-1)
Jim says: Before the season, East Ridge coach Mike Pendino emphasized the Raptors’ need to avoid postseason letdowns. They have the athleticism, physicality and motivation to handle Osseo.
Pick: East Ridge 21, Osseo 14
David says: The blueprint for beating East Ridge starts with a mobile, disciplined defense. Osseo fields such a unit, and the group will fuel an upset.
Pick: Osseo 21, East Ridge 17
Blaine (5-4) at Mounds View (8-1)
Jim says: Up and down Mounds View’s roster, no big names jump out. That’s why the Mustangs win. They thrive on smart, hard-working athletes who know their roles.
Pick: Mounds View 38, Blaine 16
David says: The Blaine defense struggled against the run last week, surrendering 357 yards at Centennial. Mounds View runs early and often and for big yards.
Pick: Mounds View 28, Blaine 14
Wayzata (3-6) at Rosemount (9-0)
Jim says: Wayzata is sneaky, with a record that says pushover but a team that certainly is not. Coming off an emotional victory at Minnetonka, the Trojans should look more like the horses of years past. But I still can’t see them winning.
Pick: Rosemount 32, Wayzata 20
David says: You remember Rosemount, right? The Irish quietly demolished a mediocre schedule. Wayzata will demand more but the Irish will answer, reintroducing themselves as one of the state’s best teams.
Pick: Rosemount 35, Wayzata 17
Stillwater (7-2) at Totino-Grace (8-1)
Jim says: Most would think Totino-Grace at home, in the chill, is a lock. Call me crazy, but I can see Stillwater hanging tough and coming through at the end on a big Zach Knox run.
Pick: Stillwater 21, Totino-Grace 20
David says: This game comes down to coaching, and picking against Jeff Ferguson and his staff in the playoffs is throwing your vote away. The Eagles seldom beat themselves.
Pick: Totino-Grace 21, Stillwater 14
Elk River (7-2) at St. Michael-Albertville (8-1)
Jim says: The weakness in Elk River’s churning wing-T offense is physical defenses. With a week to prepare, St. Michael-Albertville should win, but the Knights must stay disciplined.
Pick: St. Michael-Albertville 34, Elk River 21
David says: Can we stop discounting Elk River’s offense as gimmicky? Fact is, the Elks come off the ball well and run hard. That’s a perfect formula for a chilly section final.
Pick: Elk River 35, St. Michael-Albertville 28
Orono (7-2) at Becker (8-1)
Jim says: Becker is the second-best team in Class 4A, behind Hutchinson. Orono is formidable, but Becker, with a terrific QB/WR tandem in Michael Veldman (1,891 yards passing, 29 TDs) and Eric Blomgren (50 receptions, 18 TDs), is elite.
Pick: Becker 41, Orono 24
David says: Becker’s only loss should have been a victory against Class 6A Minnetonka. The Bulldogs have been on a mission since that Week 1 setback.
Pick: Becker 35, Orono 13