Minnetonka quarterback Aaron Syverson (6), shown in last year's Prep Bowl, will lead the Skippers into a tough matchup with Rosemount. Photo: ANTHONY SOUFFLE * firstname.lastname@example.org
For the winners, dreams of playing in the state tournament quarterfinals are realized with a win Friday. For our prognosticators, reality has set in. Forget catching staff writer Jim Paulsen (23-12). His colleague David La Vaque (19-16) just hopes to stay above .500.
WAYZATA (5-4) AT WOODBURY (8-1), 7 P.M.
Jim says: Wayzata put it all together in a 45-0 romp over Centennial, but the Trojans have been maddeningly inconsistent. Woodbury and its staunch defense is riding a wave of confidence. Woodbury 27, Wayzata 21
David says: Woodbury changed quarterbacks four weeks ago because of an injury and hasn’t faltered. Still, this matchup makes the Royals the most vulnerable No. 1 seed. Wayzata 21, Woodbury 17
MINNETONKA (5-4) at ROSEMOUNT (7-2), 7 P.M.
Jim says: Tonka QB Aaron Syverson doesn’t have last year’s supporting cast, but he’s still dangerous. On turf, I’d give this to the Skippers. But Rosemount’s perpetually sloppy field will work to its advantage. Rosemount 21, Minnetonka 14
David says: Kudos to Rosemount for its seven-game winning streak. But the Irish defeated one team with a winning record during that stretch. If Minnetonka plays with the proper focus, the Skippers advance. Minnetonka 17, Rosemount 7
PRIOR LAKE (5-4) AT BLAINE (9-0), 7 P.M.
Jim says: Is Blaine due for a letdown? Did Prior Lake right its ship, scoring 52 against Buffalo? Can Prior Lake win? The answer to each question is quite possibly yes. The Lakers are due for good luck. Prior Lake 26, Blaine 16
David says: Two games against Totino-Grace, including last week, showed Blaine can grind out victories and play solid defense. Here’s a question: Can Prior Lake’s defense rise to the occasion? Blaine 28, Prior Lake 14
HASTINGS (8-1) AT ST. THOMAS ACADEMY (9-0), 7 P.M.
Jim says: Hastings gave St. Thomas Academy a battle earlier this season, trailing 10-6 after three quarters. But the Cadets have the look of a team that will finish its season at U.S. Bank Stadium. St. Thomas Academy 28, Hastings 14
David says: Hastings’ best team in forever must solve the classic St. Thomas Academy success formula: Run often, run well and play solid defense. Running back Brendan McFadden and company keep rolling. St. Thomas Academy 35, Hastings 20
SPRING LAKE PARK (7-2) AT COOPER (8-1), 7 P.M.
Jim says: Cooper, the most talented team in Class 5A, Section 5, can look like world-beaters when focused. The Hawks looked focused in routing St. Louis Park in the semifinals. Cooper 37, Spring Lake Park 28
David says: Cooper, stopped on the state tournament doorstep the past two seasons, needs this one. Badly. The good news: The Hawks won their past two games against Spring Lake Park. Cooper 28, Spring Lake Park 21
BENILDE-ST. MARGARET’S (7-3) VS. SMB (9-0) AT BLAKE, 7 P.M.
Jim says: How long can this Benilde-St. Margaret’s run last? The Red Knights, the section’s No. 6 seed, have momentum after defeating defending 4A champ Holy Angels and undefeated Providence Academy. Benilde-St. Margaret’s 24, SMB 20
David says: SMB showed a lot of grit in its fourth-quarter comeback victory against Orono last week. Add that to an advantage in athletic talent and you get a state tournament appearance. SMB 21, Benilde-St. Margaret’s 17