MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s Week 1 in the Minnesota high school football season. For the state’s powerhouses, it’s hopefully just the start of another successful run to the state tournament and maybe even the Metrodome.
For others, it’s a chance to wipe the slate clean and forget about last year’s disappointing end.
Whatever situation your school is in, the first week is one of the most exciting of the season. Stadiums are packed, fans are rowdy and the bands and cheerleaders make the atmosphere what it is every Friday night of the season.
Here are previews of four big match-ups Friday night around the Twin Cities:
Eagan at Lakeville South: It’s the “Game of the Week” for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally. The game will actually be played at Lakeville North High School due to poor field conditions at Lakeville South. But if last year is any indication, it looks to be a great match-up. The Cougars edged the Wildcats 28-20 on the way to a 5-3 season and eventually a Section 1A championship. Eagan had a 4-4 regular season, reached the Section 4A title game and had its season end in a loss to Cretin-Derham Hall.
The Wildcats have to replace senior quarterback Jameson Parsons, who was also their top rusher, and Matt Hentges, a wide receiver who scored 13 touchdowns last year.
The Cougars bring back senior quarterback Mitchell Leidner, who threw for more than 2,000 yards and had 17 touchdowns as a junior. They graduated their top two running backs, but have a talented trio of receivers back. It should be a great game between a pair of South Suburban Conference rivals.
St. Thomas Academy at Simley: The Cadets start their Classic Suburban Conference season with a true test Friday night at Simley. St. Thomas Academy went 8-0 in the regular season last year, got to the state tournament and beat Northfield to get to the Metrodome. There, they fell to state champion Totino-Grace in a 28-21 nail-biter. They’ll have a new quarterback, new receivers and new running backs due to graduation, but the Cadets always seem to reload rather than replace. The Spartans are looking to rebound from a 1-7 regular season last year. St. Thomas beat Simley 57-6 in the opener for both squads last year.
Woodbury at Stillwater: The 2010 season was a grind for the Woodbury Royals, who finished 3-5 in the Suburban East Conference. They travel to Stillwater, a team that had a very successful campaign last year. The Ponies lost only two games last year, and they were both to Mounds View. The Ponies graduated their top quarterback, running back and top scoring receiver. The Royals bring back their top running back and two of their top receivers. It looks to be an interesting game between conference rivals.
Dassel-Cokato at Glencoe-Silver Lake: It’s one of the premiere small-school match-ups west of the Twin Cities as Dassel-Cokato and Glencoe-Silver Lake battle in their Wright County Conference opener Friday night. The Panthers beat the Chargers in last year’s Section 3A title game before losing to eventual state champion Rochester Lourdes. Glencoe-Silver Lake always features a dominant running game and a stifling defensive presence. The Chargers bring back two of their top receivers and their top running back. They only quarterback that wasn’t a senior last year completed just one pass, so Friday looks to be a very interesting match-up.
Check back next week for “4 Top Performances” and “The Big 4″ for Week 2. Also be sure to tune into High School Sports Rally at 10:20 p.m. Friday on WCCO-TV.