Week 5 prep football picks

I went 13-3 last week picking winners, making me 49-13 for the season (79 percent). Not bad. I’m 39-23 against the mythical point spread I just make up. That’s 62.9 percent.

The three I got wrong were: Little Falls beating Princeton, Ottertail Central knocking off Royalton and Alexandria defeating St. Cloud Apollo. All were good games. I just went with the wrong winner.

Here’s a look at this week’s games:

* Becker at Albany — The Bulldogs are ranked fifth in Class 4A and completely blew away No. 9 Zimmerman 56-22 last Friday. Albany, receiving votes in the Class 3A state poll by The Associated Press, opened the season with a 37-22 loss to Zimmerman. The Huskies are playing better, but Becker has yet to play a close game. Let’s say it happens here, but Becker prevails 28-20.

* Milaca at Annandale — Annandale (3-1) is eighth in the state Class 3A poll and Milaca (0-4) is unlikely to get its first win on the road. Annandale wins, 35-14.

* Eden Valley-Watkins at Pierz — This has been one of the best rivalries in the Central Minnesota Conference for the past decade or so, with the teams annually contending for the conference title and state playoff berths. It’s a little different this season. It already has been a tough season for EVW (0-4), which hasn’t had a season like this in a long time. Pierz (3-1) is getting votes in the state Class 2A poll and should win handily. Take the Pioneers, 35-14.

* Foley at Zimmerman — Zimmerman should get back on the winning track against Foley, which beat Mora 12-0 last week. Take the Thunder, 28-16.

* Holdingford at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted — Holdingford is tied for first in the Central Minnesota Conference. The Huskers have won three straight since a season-opening loss to St. Cloud Cathedral. Among those victories is a win over Pierz. HLWW has lost three straight, including a 47-20 loss at Pierz in week three. Take Holdingfordl, 28-14.

* Maple Lake at Kimball — This is the Central Minnesota Conference game of the week. Maple Lake (4-0) is ranked fourth in the state in Class 2A. Kimball (3-1) is coming off a 22-6 loss to Pierz. The Irish average 41 points per game and allow 17.8. Kimball averages 30.5 points and allows 19.5. I’m expecting some points to be scored here. Maple Lake wins the shootout 31-28.

* Mora at Little Falls — The Flyers (1-3) won their first game of the season last Friday, beating Princeton 20-14 as Jalen Wuchko rushed for 204 yards. Mora (1-3) tries for win No. 2 after losing to Foley 12-0. The Mustangs’ victory was two weeks ago against winless Milaca, 20-7. I like the Flyers to make it two in a row. Little Falls wins 28-14.

* Plainview-Elgin-Millville at Melrose — It’s another unusual game for Melrose, the area’s only independent. Melrose (2-2) has won two straight, beating Martin County West 39-14 last week after defeating Ogilvie 39-0 the week before. PEM (2-2) also has won two straight, with victories over Wabasha-Kellogg (50-6) and Southland (28-21).  The Bulldogs’ losses are to Caledonia (19-0) and Chatfield (28-21). Caledonia is the No. 1-ranked team in Class 2A. PEM also beat Melrose 56-13 last year on its way to an 11-1 season that included a state playoff berth. Take PEM 28-26.

* Yellow Medicine East at Paynesville — Paynesville (1-30 lost a tough one to Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, 18-14, last week. YME (0-4) has allowed an average of 41 points per game and scores 9.5. The Bulldogs should put up some big points here. Take Paynesville, 35-14.

* Sauk Rapids at Rocori (1 p.m. Saturday) — Rocori (4-0) is ranked second in the state in Class 4A and has won 17 games in a row, but is lucky to still be unbeaten after needing a last-second TD to beat Willmar 22-1. Sauk Rapids (0-4) has lost eight in a row but plays everyone tough. This is a contrast of styles, with Sauk Rapids preferring a ball-control, smash-mouth style with tight formations compared to the Spartans’ no-huddle spread. Take Rocori, 28-7.

* Browerville at Royalton — Royalton (3-1) dropped out of the state poll after last week’s 36-20 loss to Ottertail Central. Browerville (2-2) has a 32-12 win over Ottertail in Week 3. Take Browerville here, 21-20.

* Brainerd at St. Cloud Apollo — Brainerd (3-1) is the only Class 6A school on Apollo’s schedule. The Eagles (0-4) have lost 21 in a row and the Warriors aren’t the kind of program that you end a streak like that against. Brainerd wins, 28-7.

* St. Cloud Cathedral at Princeton — Both teams are 2-2. Cathedral lost a 35-34 heartbreaker to Litchfield at SCSU. Princeton lost 20-14 at Little Falls. Cathedral beat the Tigers 20-6 last year. Take Cathedral here, 21-20.

* Moorhead at St. Cloud Tech — Moorhead (4-0) is ranked seventh in the state in Class 5A and has a very good offense that averages 37.5 points per game. The Dragons allow 17.5. Tech (3-1) needs this one, its homecoming game at SCSU, in order to have a crack at a top seed in Section 8-5A. There is one comparative score to contemplate: Tech beat Grand Rapids 47-35 in Week 3. Moorhead beat Grand Rapids 41-21 in Week 2. Take Tech here in a shootout, 31-30.

* Fergus Falls at Sartell — Here’s one for you: Sartell (4-0) has yet to play a team that has won a game this season. The Sabres have beaten 0-4 Apollo (6-0), 0-4 Big Lake (33-6), 0-4 Sauk Rapids (28-6) and 0-4 Grand Rapids (27-8). That, of course, should change Friday night. Fergus Falls (3-1) is averaging 29.3 points per game and allowing 30.5 points per game. The Otters beat Sauk Rapids 28-27 in Week 1 and were unbeaten until a 40-20 loss to Moorhead last week. Take Sartell to win, 30-19.

* Benson at Sauk Centre — Finally, the Mainstreeters get their first home game of the season, playing on their beautiful, new, artificial turf stadium in a West Central Conference matchup. Both teams are 2-2. Benson lost 24-7 last week to unbeaten Morris Area. Morris is ranked fifth in the state in Class 3A. Sauk Centre lost to unbeaten BOLD, 48-7. BOLD is ranked third in the state in Class 3A. Sauk Centre also lost to Morris in Week 3, 41-8. Benson spoils Sauk Centre’s home opener, 34-21.

That’s it for this week. Have fun, everybody.


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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