Here we go again …
This, I think, is my third (or fourth?) year of picking prep football games on my blog. It’s purely for fun and done because I have loads of people ask me what I think as we head into each prep football week. I have no fabulous inside information about any of these teams. It’s just based on the common knowledge a sports writer may accumulate in his work.
Please don’t take these picks too seriously.
If I pick your team to lose, it’s not because I hate you or am trying to be disrespectful. That’s not how I operate. I’m just trying to give you an honest evaluation. I get quite a few games right. But I also get a lot of games wrong. I’m hoping everybody has a successful year, quite honestly. Don’t get too worked up about what some dumb sportswriter thinks.
With that disclaimer, here goes nothing:
Games Thursday, Aug. 30
* Milaca at Becker — I like the Bulldogs in this one. Head coach Dwight Lundeen goes for his 300th career victory in Becker’s first game in the Granite Ridge Conference. Take the Bulldogs, 28-7.
* Mayer Lutheran at Eden Valley-Watkins — This should be a good matchup. Mayer Lutheran was 6-4 last year and should be evenly matched with EVW. I’ll take EVW just because it’s a home game. EVW wins 14-13.
* Royalton at Long Prairie-Grey Eagle — This is a matchup of Prairie Conference teams. This should be a close game. I like Royalton here, 14-12.
Friday, Aug. 31
* Zimmerman at Albany — Zimmerman was 9-2 last year and won the inaugural Granite Ridge Conference title. Neither Albany nor Becker were in the conference last year and both are traditional state powers. Zimmerman returns six starters on offense and six on defense. Albany is younger than that, but it’s Albany. I’m taking the Huskies here, 20-18. (Disclaimer: My son plays for Albany).
* Annandale at Waconia — Annandale was one of the surprise teams in the area and maybe even the state, making the state tournament with a 7-5 record. The Cardinals have an excellent quarterback in John Kalthoff and this should be a good matchup in the brutally tough Wright County Conference. Annandale won 26-14 last year at home. Let’s take the Cardinals again, 21-20.
* Foley at International Falls — These teams played last year in the season-opener at Foley and the Falcons won 49-0. Take Foley again, 35-14.
* St. Cloud Cathedral at Holdingford — This is new head coach Luke Mitchell’s first game for Holdingford. Cathedral’s coach, Dean Taylor, has been coaching since 1968, so he’s been through this before. Cathedral won a close game last year. Take Cathedral, 16-14.
* Spectrum at Kimball — Spectrum, located in Elk River, is a new varsity program. Kimball wins here, 28-13.
* Hutchinson at Little Falls — Jay DeCann makes his debut as Little Falls’ head coach against Hutchinson, a traditional state power now in the Wright County Conference. Little Falls might have the biggest line in the area and should be interesting this season. Take Hutchinson, 34-28.
* Pierz at Melrose — Pierz has one of the area’s best running backs in Josh Lanners. Melrose has one of the area’s best quarterbacks in Isaac Sawyer. The Pioneers also have a large offensive line and this one might be determined by the play in the trenches. Take Pierz, 28-20.
* Rocori at Brainerd — Brainerd’s young, but shoot, it’s Brainerd. The Warriors rarely lose at home. Rocori is the defending state Class 4A champion and has enough weapons to make a run at another title. But, Brainerd’s a tough Class 6A squad. Take Brainerd, 26-20.
* St. Cloud Apollo vs. Sartell at St. Cloud State — This one was moved to SCSU because Sartell’s home field isn’t quite ready. Apollo should be improved, but I’m taking Sartell, which should have a very good team. Sartell wins 28-13.
* Sauk Centre at Yellow Medicine East — Take the Mainstreeters to win at Granite Falls, with a healed Roosevelt Austin leading the way. Sauk Centre wins, 34-28.
* Fergus Falls at Sauk Rapids — I like the Storm, who should have a variety of weapons to throw at the Otters. Sauk Rapids wins its home-opener, 21-7.