Prep Blog: Previewing Week 4, ‘The Big 4’
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It feels like the high school football season just started, but we’re already at the midway point of fall.
Conference titles are already on the line in some leagues, and some teams are still looking for their first win of the season. Whatever the situation, the games get bigger and bigger from here on out as teams chase championships and high seedings for the section playoffs.
There are once again a lot of big match-ups happening this Friday, and we’re going to highlight four of them. Here they are:
Washburn (2-1) at Southwest (1-1)
Washburn travels to Southwest in a Minneapolis City Conference match-up that will likely determine the conference champion. The team that wins the conference plays in the Twin Cities Championship in the final game of the year against the St. Paul City Conference champion. It’s also our featured “Game of the Week” for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.
The Millers are looking to rebound from a 59-28 non-conference loss to Waseca, but they’re still in a very good spot in conference play with a 2-0 record.
Southwest will be fresh coming off a week where it didn’t have a game, so they figure to present a tough challenge for Washburn. The Lakers put up big offensive numbers in a 76-8 season opening win over Edison, but followed it up with a 38-0 non-conference loss to Edina. The Lakers feature a dual quarterback passing attack, but are led by Max Roberts, who has three touchdown passes on the year. Dantavian Sanders and Maurice Alexander are the team’s top running backs.
Washburn is a perennial power in the Minneapolis City Conference even though Southwest gave them a tough battle last year. History will also be made Friday as the 7 p.m. game will be the first night game in history at Southwest.
I give the slight edge to the Millers as they have a few more athletes who are capable of big plays.
Lakeville North (3-0) at Rosemount (3-0)
Two top 10 teams will square off in Rosemount Friday night in one of the premiere match-ups in the Twin Cities. It’s also a battle of undefeated teams as No. 8-ranked Lakeville North takes on No. 7-ranked Rosemount in the South Suburban Conference.
The Panthers have yet to be really tested as their three wins have all been by double digits. They’re coming off a 27-14 non-conference win over Edina. Lakeville North is led by quarterback Troy Heid, who has 342 passing yards and five touchdowns in three wins. Junior Brandon Morgan leads the team in rushing with 139 yards and four touchdowns. The Panthers also have a talented receiving duo in Charlie Hayes and Joel Oxton, who each have two touchdowns.
The Irish are now slouch either. They have a balanced and talented running game and also feature an experience quarterback with a talented receiving corps. Rosemount, which is 3-0 and coming off a 13-6 win over Prior Lake, is also known for its stingy defense. The Irish haven’t allowed more than six points in a game yet this season.
It should be a great game that goes down to the wire. I give Rosemount a slight edge only because they’re so tough to beat at home.
Mahtomedi (2-1) at Totino-Grace (2-1)
It’s probably the most highly-anticipated match-up in the metro for Friday night. Totino-Grace is the defending Class 4A champions and Mahtomedi was a state semifinalist last year. Now in 5A, the Eagles host the Zephyrs, who are ranked No. 6 in 4A. Mahtomedi will be hungry for a win after squandering a double digit lead to St. Thomas Academy in a 21-13 loss last week.
The Zephyrs have a talented quarterback in junior Jordan Goodmanson and feature a slew of running backs, led by senior Dan Swanson. Mahtomedi is known for dominating at the line of scrimmage with a punishing offensive and defensive line.
The Eagles rely on playmakers at their skill positions, and this year is no different. They have a quarterback who is a threat to pass and run, punishing running backs a talented receiving duo. Totino-Grace thrives off making big plays and forcing turnovers.
It’s a match-up that’s turned into quite the rivalry. Totino-Grace gets the edge because they’re tough to beat at Jim Totino Stadium.
Pierz (3-0) at Eden Valley-Watkins (2-1)
A pair of Class 2A powers will hit the field Friday night as Pierz travels to Eden Valley-Watkins in Central Minnesota Conference action.
Pierz, ranked No. 5 in 2A, is 3-0 on the season and coming off a nail-biting 21-20 win over Kimball. Eden Valley-Watkins, a perennial state power, is 2-1 after being shut out in a loss at Holdingford.
Pierz can take firm control of the conference race with a victory Friday night. I give Pierz the edge because they’re a battle tested team.
Other notable match-ups: Blaine travels to Anoka for a Northwest Suburban Conference match-up featuring a battle of teams that are both 2-0 in conference play. Hopkins hosts Eden Prairie, the No. 1-ranked team in 5A Friday night where one of the top players in the state will be in action. Hopkins receiver Andre McDonald, a Vanderbilt recruit, will be a player to watch in the contest. In southern Minnesota, Faribault travels to Mankato West in a match-up of 3-0 teams in the Big Nine Conference. Phillip Nelson of Mankato West, a Gopher recruit, is one of the top quarterbacks in the state.
Tune into High School Sports Rally at about 10:20 p.m. Friday for highlights from several metro area games as Frank Vascellaro, Mike Max and John Lauritsen will have it all covered.