Section football finals: Lots of picks to ponder

Are you good enough to get to state? In prep football that question is answered in the next several days.

Section championships are on the menu and they are always loads of fun. We have five games on tap involving area teams and all of them have something that make them interesting.

Here’s a look with some predictions:

Section 8-5A

* Sartell (7-2) vs. Moorhead (9-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Clemens Stadium, Collegeville — These two haven’t played since 2007, but have lots of common opponents. Moorhead plays a lot of Central Lakes Conference teams every year, so the comparisons are easier. The Spuds beat St. Cloud Tech, 48-40. Sartell beat Tech, 21-20. Moorhead beat Bemidji, 34-30. Sartell beat Bemidji 35-24. It goes on. Sartell beat Grand Rapids, 27-6. Moorhead beat Grand Rapids, 41-21. What I’m geting around to saying in a round-about way is that this should be a very good game. Sartell’s defense is good. Moorhead’s offense is good. Sartell has developed a nice mix offensively, with Parker Hagen leading the passing attack and Erik McAfee running rampant on the ground. I think this one could go either way, but I’m taking Moorhead to win. Moorhead wins 21-20.

Section 8-4A

* Rocori (6-3) vs. Detroit Lakes (9-0), 8 p.m. Thursday at the FargoDome, Fargo, N.D. — I believe Rocori is back on track and with Mac Mueller healthy enough to make this a very interesting game. Detroit Lakes runs a similar offense, is well-coached and probably hasn’t played as difficult a schedule as Rocori has. There are no common opponents. I’m taking Detroit Lakes, but just by a sliver. The Lakers win 21-20.

Section 5-4A

* Delano (7-3) at Becker (8-1), 7 p.m. Friday — Delano is the third seed and beat Becker 41-14 last year in the section semifinals. The Tigers play in a Wright County Conference that year in and year out is probably one of the best Class 3A/4A conferences in the state. Becker won the Granite Ridge Conference in its first season and will be a formidable opponent at Eppard Field, where the Bulldogs rarely lose. It has been a long time since Becker has been in the state playoffs, 2006. That’s also the last time Delano made it. I’m taking the home team, 26-21.

Section 5-3A

* Foley (7-2) vs. Annandale (8-1), 4 p.m. Saturday at St. Cloud State — Annandale is another Wright County team whose only loss is to Glencoe-Silver Lake (43-33 on Sept. 14). The Cardinals beat Mora 47-29 Saturday in the playoffs. They also beat Dassel-Cokato 47-26 on Sept. 21. Annandale also beat Milaca 40-26 on Sept. 28. Foley, meanwhile, lost 40-18 to Dassel-Cokato on Sept 14, beat Mora 12-0 on Sept. 21 and beat Milaca 45-18 on Oct. 12. My guess is the Dassel-Cokato games might be the best predictor of this game’s outcome. Take Annandale to repeat as section champion, beating the Falcons 26-18.

Section 6-2A

* Holdingford (9-1) vs. Upsala/Swanville Area (9-1), 3 p.m. Friday at the FargoDome — Bordering school districts travel two-plus hours to North Dakota to attempt to earn a Minnesota state playoff berth. I like Holdingford’s offensive balance and I think the Huskers have played a tougher schedule. They’ve won nine straight and the Central Minnesota Conference along the way after opening with a 14-6 loss to St. Cloud Cathedral, a Class 3A school. USA, however, is tough. While the Patriots’ schedule is dotted with Class 2A and 1A programs, they’ve averaged 34.1 points per game and allowed 10.7. Holdingford scores 27.4 and allows 10.3, the best in the section and the fourth best in the state among Class 2A schools. I’m taking Holdingford here, 21-16.

Well, that’s that for this week.

HOW I’VE DONE

I went 9-1 picking winners last week and 6-4 against my mythical, entirely made up point spread. That leaves me at 109-36 (75.2 percent) picking area winners this season and at 89-56 (61.4 percent) against the spread. I think I should hit that spread more often since I make it up, but that’s why I’m in Stearns County writing prep sports and not in Vegas.

Enjoy.

 

Tom Elliott

About Tom Elliott

Follow Tom Elliott at https://twitter.com/sctimestom Elliott is the prep sports coordinator of Times Media, which includes the St. Cloud Times newspaper. He has worked for the paper since the beginning of time, except for a three-plus-year stretch as the sports editor of The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., from 1994-97.
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