Prep Blog: Week 6, Previewing ‘The Big 4’
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It will be the Friday of unbeaten teams as we head into Week 6 of the high school football season.
With the way things have shaken out both across the Twin Cities metro and the entire state, this might be the one week all season where the most undefeated teams are facing each other. What does it mean? Winning streaks are on the line, playoff seeding implications are at stake and conference titles could be up for grabs.
With just three weeks left in regular season action, there’s just three more chances for players to give it everything they have for four quarters in the hopes of celebrating a win when it’s all over. There’s a lot of great match-ups and big games this week, but we can only choose four to preview. Here they are:
Holy Family Catholic (5-0) at St. Thomas Academy (5-0)
It looks to be a fantastic match-up in Mendota Heights Friday night as St. Thomas Academy, the No. 2-ranked team in Class 4A, hosts Holy Family Catholic, the No. 2 team in Class 3A. It’s a battle of unbeaten teams and two of the best in their perspective classes. It’s also our featured “Game of the Week” for WCCO’s High School Sports Rally.
Holy Family played in the 3A Prep Bowl last year, falling to Rochester Lourdes. The Cadets reached the 4A semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Totino-Grace.
St. Thomas thrives off playing dominant defense (they’ve shut out two opponents and allowed no more than 13 points in a game so far) and making big plays on offense. Junior QB John Gould has seven touchdown passes on the season, and the Cadets’ primary playmaker is receiver Hootie Hubble, who has a combined 15 touchdowns (4 rushing, 11 receiving) on the season. Nick Waldvogel and Kevin Gray are also threats to run the ball. Waldvogel is also one of their top receivers. Junior Mack Marrin leads the defensive line with 3.5 sacks, and Doug Vanasek leads the team with 38 tackles.
Holy Family has had no trouble itself scoring this season. The Fire have been on fire, scoring 40 points or more three times and allowing 14 or fewer in four of their five games. They are led by Michael Roane, who is their top passer (661 yards, 8 TDs) and top rusher (564 yards, 4 TDs). Tommy Hanson is their top receiver (240 yards, 3 TDs).
This one should go down to the wire, but I give St. Thomas Academy the edge. They’re tough to beat at home.
Minnetonka (4-1) at Eden Prairie (5-0)
Minnetonka fell to No. 9 in the Class 5A rankings after losing to Wayzata 35-7 last week. Can the Skippers rebound with what would be a big upset over Eden Prairie?
The Eagles showed they are human with a loss to Brainerd in the state tournament last year, but they aren’t showing many signs of weakness this season. They’re the No. 1 team in 5A and have outscored opponents 212-34 in five straight wins.
They’re led by RB Andrew Larson, who has 713 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground this season.
For the Skippers, QB Scott Benedict, RB Rashad Cohen and WR Malcom Moore will all need to have big games for Minnetonka to have any chance. That will be tough against Eden Prairie’s physical defense.
I give Eden Prairie the edge, and they should take care of business by double digits.
Lakeville North (5-0) at Lakeville South (5-0)
The battle of Lakeville takes place Friday night, and it might be the biggest game of the rivalry so far as the Panthers host the Cougars. Lakeville North is ranked No. 4 in 5A, while Lakeville South is No. 5 in 5A.
City bragging rights for the year are on the line, and more importantly, the South Suburban Conference title hangs in the balance with this match-up. Each team’s quarterback will also likely play a big factor in the outcome.
Lakeville South QB Mitch Leidner, a Gopher recruit, will have his hands full with a Panther defense that’s been pretty stingy all season. Lakeville North’s Troy Heid leads the team in passing (1,073 yards, 9 TDs) and is the Panthers’ second leading rusher. Brandon Morgan is their top running threat, while Charlie Hayes and Joel Broxton are the receiving threats with three touchdowns each.
Lakeville North has a lot of weapons, and if they use all of them to their advantage they have the edge in this rivalry game playing at home. North wins a close one.
Hutchinson (5-0) at Glencoe-Silver Lake (5-0)
It’s always been a great rivalry west of the Twin Cities, but now Hutchinson and Glencoe-Silver Lake face each other every year in the Wright County Conference. The two teams face off Friday night in Glencoe, with the winner still in contention to win the conference.
Hutchinson is ranked No. 7 in Class 4A and Glencoe-Silver Lake is ranked No. 1 in Class 3A. The Panthers have had the Tigers number lately, winning the last five contests.
The Panthers are led by freshman QB Keaton Anderson, the younger brother of former star Kyler Anderson. Hutchinson runs a ball control offense that specializes in disguising which player has the ball at all times.
It’s a great rivalry and should be a great game. Glencoe has the edge, they’re very tough to beat at home.
Other big match-ups: There were several other big games that didn’t quite make the cut for “The Big 4.” Chanhassen hosts Chaska in a battle of Missota Conference rivals. You’ll likely see a lot of pink as both teams are raising money for breast cancer awareness. It’ll be a great game for a worthy cause. Shakopee also travels to Holy Angels in a battle of 5-0 teams in the Missota Conference. Also in the Missota, Northfield travels to Farmington for the annual battle for the coveted “Tractor Trophy.”
Tune into WCCO’s High School Sports Rally for complete high school football coverage with Frank Vascellaro, Mike Max and John Lauritsen. We’ll have a full report from Mendota Heights on the St. Thomas Academy/Holy Family match-up.