Tyler Julson: Area high school sports are about to be in full swing

Published 8:07 pm Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Notes from the Sports Desk by Tyler Julson

 

High school sports have officially started throughout the area. Albert Lea girls’ tennis played its first matches Tuesday night, the United South Central girls’ tennis team is off to a hot start — already 4-1 to start the season, and the Northwood-Kensett volleyball team won its first match on Tuesday.

Soon all sports will be in full swing and my nightly schedule will go back to being full of games. Just before the start of the season, I took a small trip to Chicago as one last getaway before everything gets a little more chaotic.

Myself and three of my friends spent Sunday through Tuesday staying in Chicago and caught the Pearl Jam concert Monday night. Despite the torrential downpour and waiting in line for over nine hours, it was easily the best concert experience I’ve ever had and I look forward to many more shows. 

Back to sports.

There’s not a lot happening in the professional world right now. What can I say about the Twins that hasn’t already been said? Climbing back into the division race with just 35 games left is next to impossible. It’s time to start dreaming of that clean slate next April. The Red Sox are looking phenomenal; I don’t see anyone beating them in a series come October. They’re my pick to win this year’s World Series.

The Tribune’s annual pick ‘em contest will be starting soon and the question remains, will anyone be able to dethrone Melissa? This will only be my second year at the Tribune, but I’ve been told Melissa is a master at the game and I witnessed it first hand last season.

For this week’s NFL predictions, I’m going to go through two divisions, only for the sake of finishing before the start of the regular season. So, each team’s analysis is going to be a little shorter than normal.

First, the AFC South. This division is one of the most unpredictable in the league. There are so many factors to throw in the mix. Can the Jaguars repeat their success of last year? How good will Deshaun Watson be after last year’s injury? And the biggest question, how will Andrew Luck look after taking last season off?

I think this division is the Jaguars’ to lose. I’m not in love with Blake Bortles at quarterback, but he proved me wrong all last season. The Texans will be right there in the mix for the division title, as well. They have a star-studded roster, especially on offense and, of course, JJ Watt is a big-time playmaker on the defense.

I see the Colts and the Titans battling for the third spot in the standings. I’ve been enamoured with Luck ever since his days at Stanford and I hope he comes back to play at his full potential. However, the pieces for him to do that just aren’t there.

 

AFC South final predictions

1. Jaguars 11-5 (No. 3 seed in AFC)

2. Texans 10-6 (No. 6 seed in AFC as wildcard)

3. Colts 7-9

4. Titans 7-9

 

Next, another division that I could see going in multiple ways: the AFC North. As usual, I see the Ravens and the Steelers battling for the top spot in the division. I am starting to get on board the bandwagon of the Browns. They’ve got so many weapons on offense; it’s going to end up falling into Baker Mayfield’s hands and I am excited to watch that play out.

I’m not sure what to make of the Steelers yet. Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are probably the best wide receiver/running back in the league, but I think Ben Roethlisberger is going to start showing his age much sooner rather than later.

The Bengals also have a good WR/RB combo in A.J. Green and Joe Mixon, but Andy Dalton is not an elite quarterback and the Bengals are going to struggle to win many games. I want so badly to make a bold prediction and say the Browns win the division, but I just can’t because they’re the Browns. Hopefully they prove me wrong; it would make for a great storyline this season.

 

AFC North final predictions

1. Steelers 10-6 (No. 4 seed in the AFC)

2. Ravens 10-6

3. Bengals 6-10

4. Browns 3-13

 

Tyler Julson is the Tribune sports reporter. Contact him at tyler.julson@albertleatribune.com.

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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