We're both short on time this morning, Phersy, so let's get right to it. The traveling trophy for the High School Picks winner is still buried on my desk -- where it belongs -- under mountains of notes about our area teams. I think the lost intern from four years ago is probably still buried under there, too. Maybe one day he'll be rescued. Here we go, the seven games we'll pick in Week 1 (How about the big showdown in the Three Rivers to open the season ... wish I could be at that one!). Phersy, I don't know about you, but I'd be happy if we both are a game over .500 after this week.
I'll pick the games this week, Phersy gets to make his picks first:
Austin at Red Wing
Rochester Mayo at Farmington
HIAWATHA VALLEY LEAGUE
Zumbrota-Mazeppa at Stewartville
Goodhue at Pine island
THREE RIVERS CONFERENCE
Plainview-Elgin-Millville at Caledonia
Rushford-Peterson at Lewiston-Altura
Mabel-Canton at Spring Grove
PHERSY: Ohhh Feldy ... you win the trophy one year and you get a big head? See all the times "PHERSY" is etched on that trophy? Yeah, enough said.
Anyway, you're right. We're short on time. Getting off to a good start is key, though. It's going to be a tall order with this slate of games.
Austin 21, Red Wing 6: Brett Vesel takes over at Austin, and he's going to run the spread. Sean Coffey will be at QB, but I want to see Ryan Synoground, too. The offense will struggle early in the season for sure. But Austin's defense is legit. They will give Big Nine teams trouble this season. Meanwhile, Red Wing lost almost everyone on defense, and on offense they lost three-year starter Joel Newman. So, there's work to do. That said, they have some great receivers, everyone back on the o-line and a great runner in Mr. Page. I'll go with the Pack, but it will be close.
Rochester Mayo 27, Farmington 23: Feldy, you know how I feel about Alex Proell. To me, when he's healthy, he's the best running back in SE Minnesota. The kid has great vision, he's shifty and he's smooth. I love his running style. That said, he has to stay strong because there are a couple guys waiting to take his carries. PS, Tommy Fjelsted...he's going to knock some heads off this year. Farmington, well, I don't know much. But they don't play in a great conference, so we'll give the Spartans the nod.
HIAWATHA VALLEY LEAGUE
Zumbrota-Mazeppa 13, Stewartville 12: I'll call this a mild upset, but the Cougars bring back 20 letter-winners off a team that came together at the end of last season. Nate Bennett is a beast on both sides of the ball for ZM, and I have a hunch Nate Rauen will have a big year for the Cougs. Stewartville has a few nice skill-position players back, but they also lost loads to graduation. I'd be shocked if it was more than a one-score game either way.
Goodhue 32, Pine Island 20: Pine Island is still in rebuilding mode. I think they have a good coaching staff in place now, and things will start turning around. But they still need time and athletes. Goodhue has some beef up front with guys like Tyson Dicke and Ryan Tipcke. They'll score some points behind that power running attack.
THREE RIVERS CONFERENCE
Caledonia 28, Plainview-Elgin-Millville 21: Whoa, two powerhouse teams in the same boat ... both are rebuilding after graduating massive senior classes. PEM lost all but two starters, and Caledonia is without the bulk of last year's top skill players. I'll take the Warriors, at home, though. They have a few more pieces in place right now.
Lewiston-Altura 30, Rushford-Peterson 19: L-A is coming off a solid 5-5 season. Meanwhile, R-P was winless in the conference last year. R-P returns several skill players, but they were on a team that didn't score many points, so it's tough to tell until they hit the field. L-A quarterback Nate Reps is a player to watch this season. If he improved in the offseason, he could be one of the area's best. He tossed 12 TDs last year.
Spring Grove 54, Mabel-Canton 24: Come on Feldy. Spring Grove is loaded again, with skill players like three-year starting QB Blaine Storlie and 1,000-yard rusher Josh Olerud, not to mention key pieces back on their line. Spring Grove and Grand Meadow will be chasing each other for that SEC title this year. Meanwhile, numbers are down at M-C. They can be competitive, but they must stay healthy.
FELDY: It's Week 1. We don't know much about most of these teams yet, so I'm relying on the guys who wrote our Pigskin Preview stories. That may not be a good thing to do.
Red Wing 28, Austin 21: The Wingers lost a lot of players to graduation. Austin has lost a lot of games in a row (19). I like the Packers new head coach, Brett Vesel, and I think he'll turn things around in SpamTown, but it'll take time. I'll take the Wingers at home.
Mayo 22, Farmington 21: Just because Mayo will be a different team offensively this season, doesn't mean they'll be a worse team. Like you said, Phersy, Alex Proell can be an outstanding back if he can stay healthy. Mayo will need to control the clock with its ground game and keep Farmington's third-year starting QB, Darren Beenken, off the field.
Stewartville 26, Z-M 23: Tigers coach Aaron Meyer seems to get the best out of his team each year. Yes, they lost some key players to graduation, but the returning kids remember the feeling of being a win away from a trip to state last year. That's pretty powerful motivation.
Goodhue 24, Pine Island 18: Gotta agree with Phersy here. Dicke and Tipcke will be to tough to contain, though I think this game will be closer than some may think. P.I.'s new head coach, John Stapleton, was an assistant at Goodhue last year. Think he wants to get his tenure at P.I. off to a nice start?
P-E-M 19, Caledonia 16: Both of these teams lost a lot of starters and are in as much of a rebuilding mode as these programs can be. P-E-M beat the Warriors in the season opener last year -- something Caledonia surely remembers. I like the 'Dogs here because of the beef they have up front, led by 6-4, 265-pound tackle Nolan Folkert.
L-A 34, R-P 23: L-A has 14 starters back and 30 upperclassmen (juniors, seniors). That's a good recipe for success. I'll take the Cards by two scores.
Spring Grove 43, Mabel-Canton 27: A third-year starting QB (Blaine Storlie) and a returning 1,000-yard running back (Josh Olerud) make Spring Grove not only a favorite in the SEC, but one of the favorites to return to the state tournament.