David La Vaque emerged from Zero Week with an early lead in the picks standings, getting two of three correct while Jim Paulsen got just one right. They disagree twice this week.
East Ridge at Eden Prairie, 7 p.m.
David says: Eden Prairie’s offense is an unproven commodity, and the visiting Raptors boast a strong defense. Pick East Ridge in a tight game? It’s tempting. Until you consider the Eagles’ historically staunch defenses. The pressure is on East Ridge to prove its offensive mettle on the road. Pick: Eden Prairie 21, East Ridge 14
Jim says: Not the opponent East Ridge coach Dan Fritze would prefer to see as the Raptors break in a largely inexperienced offense. Eden Prairie is in the same boat, but the Eagles always have talent they can plug in and play. And at home, they’re pretty much a lock. Pick: Eden Prairie 23, East Ridge 7
Centennial at Stillwater, 7 p.m.
David says: Centennial’s winning formula for a season-opening road game calls for a solid defense to keep things close while the offense jells. Toward that end, Stillwater is the perfect opponent, considering the quarterback and running back positions feature newcomers. Pick: Centennial 28, Stillwater 21
Jim says: I’ve long been baffled by Stillwater. It’s a program that seems like it should be a perennial contender. Centennial has ended the Ponies’ season in the postseason two years running and always peaks near the end. If Stillwater is going to gain some payback, now is the time. Pick: Stillwater 21, Centennial 20
Spring Lake Park at Cretin-Derham Hall, 7 p.m. at Sea Foam Stadium
David says: A Class 5A state tournament preview? Cretin-Derham Hall joins the light-heavyweight division this fall, one in which Spring Lake Park has represented itself well for the past decade. Regardless of Thursday’s outcome, expect both programs to grow as the season progresses. Pick: Spring Lake Park 30, Cretin-Derham Hall 28
Jim says: I agree that CDH will find out quickly there’s scant difference in the level of play in 5A, but the Raiders will be ready. There’s been a lot of attention to their departure from Class 6A, and their 1-6 mark from a year ago still stings. And, they have Tre Holloman. Pick: Cretin-Derham Hall 34, Spring Lake Park 27