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BLAST: Pigskin Pick 'ems is back for another exciting season

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WORTHINGTON -- Once again, summer flew by and here it is already the fourth week of the high school football season -- and the fourth week of another Daily Globe "Pigskin Pick'ems" contest.

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It's been amazing to me, to have heard lots of comments over the years about my picks -- which, other than my one winning year in 2008, have not always been so good.

Most of the comments, however, have been about how my son, Lucas, is always ahead of me.

Yes, indeed, he has been -- and is again now.

In fact, after just three weeks of the new season, Lucas already has a four-game lead on me and is up by two on both the fans (new this year) and perennial third-place finisher Ryan McGaughey, our managing editor -- who loves the New York Giants.

Ryan is the only non-Knutson to have won the "Pigskin Pickem's" over the past seven seasons, winning on the last weekend of the 2007 season by going a perfect 4-0 on the final week and edging Lucas by a single pick, 126-65 to 125-66.

I believe that the Giants beat the Eagles on that weekend, which featured four NFL playoff games. Lucas was leading and going for a three-peat, but was 2-2 on the final week in January of 2008 and finished second -- after winning in both 2005 (133-59) and 2006 (122-71) by margins of seven and five picks, respectively.

In that first season (of the seven which I researched this past summer) of 2005, Lucas compiled a correct percentage of .693 -- which is still the all-time best among the 35 pickers (five pickers each year times seven seasons).

Former managing editor Doug Wolter (who was the sports editor for many years) finished second in '05 with a mark of 126-66, followed by McGaughey (122-70), sports editor Nick Herman (116-78) and the totals of a rotating guest picker (115-79).

Lucas repeated in 2006, while sports reporter Kevin Kyle (117-76) edged McGaughey (116-77) by a single pick for second. Herman (112-81) and the guest picker (108-85) were fourth and fifth, respectively, that year.

I joined the contest the next year and placed third (120-71) behind the close dual between Lucas and Ryan. New full-time sports reporter Aaron Hagen, an Iowa native, finished fourth (116-75), while Kyle brought up the rear (113-78).

My one year of glory came in the fall of 2008 when I broke a tie with my son on the last week (3-1) and finished 125-69 (.672). Lucas was second for the second year in a row (124-70), while sports reporter Matt Huss (who never once picked the Minnesota Gophers to win) finished third (118-76).

Hagen, now the sports editor in '08, repeated his fourth-place performance (116-78), while McGaughey dropped from first to last (113-81).

Since then, Lucas has reeled off three consecutive victories in a row -- winning with identical 123-57 records in both 2009 and 2010.

He barely edged a fast-closing sports reporter Michael Brauer (Nebraska native) in '09, as Brauer was 9-1 on the final week and finished 122-58, just one pick from the top.

I was third (121-59), followed by McGaughey (115-65) and Hagen (112-68).

My picks became even cloudier the next year, as I dropped to fourth place in the standings.

Hagen moved up from fifth to second with a solid year (117-63), but ended up six picks behind Lucas who won big two years ago.

McGaughey (113-67) was six ahead of me (107-73), but new sports reporter Daniel Kerwin finished six picks behind with a mark of 101-79.

Then last year, I finished dead last.

The first four were close.

Lucas edged Hagen by a single pick, 118-62 to 117-63. McGaughey was right behind (115-65) and new sports reporter Jocelyn Syrstad (along with earlier picks from Kerwin) was also in contention, finishing up with a record of 115-65.

Only three picks separated first from fourth in 2011.

Then, there was me -- five picks behind the Kerwin-Syrstad combination -- ending the year with a mark of 110-70.

Yes, I picked against Luverne too many times!

But LHS head coach Todd Oye says that he likes it when I pick against the Cardinals -- claims it motivates his players and coaching staff.

Early this season, I picked Minneota to beat Adrian. My friend Randy (Strand) sends me a text following Adrian's victory which reads: "Thanks for picking against us."

As I mentioned, it's amazing how much attention the "Pick'ems" get. I do write game, match and meet stories for the Globe, too.

But I sure don't hear as much about that part of my job description, as I do about how I'm doing in my "picks" -- which I am, again, not off to the best of starts.

Lucas opened the season with a 10-0 week and followed it up by going 6-4 and 7-3 the next two, giving him a 23-7 record so far.

Ryan has been Mr Consistent, going 7-3 all three weeks and is 21-9.

Meanwhile, the fan vote has been 5-5 and 7-3 after former sports editor Chris Murphy opened with a stellar 9-1 record in his only week as a picker. Combining those totals, gives the fans a 21-9 record going into Week 4.

New sports reporter Jordan Willi (7-3, 6-4, 6-4) is tied with me (8-2, 5-5, 6-4) at the bottom with identical 19-11 marks.

A few years ago, I had the week's only correct pick when I tagged North Dakota State to beat the Gophers. I sure had positive recognition that week!

To sum it all up, Lucas has won five of the seven years and finished second twice. Aaron had two straight second-place finishes before leaving the sports' department to become the Globe's community content coordinator and Ryan has finished third four times.

Only Lucas and Ryan have picked all seven years, while Aaron and I both picked in five of the seasons.

Nobody else has picked in more than two years, so maybe -- just maybe -- my "experience" will keep me out of the cellar this year?

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