Prep Blog: Week 2, Previewing ‘The Big 4’
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s Week 2 in the Minnesota high school football season, which is typically one of the favorites for coaches. They have something on tape to show their players where they need to improve, and conference play starts.
Week 2 is where the race to the conference championship begins. It’s also where most team’s seasons begin to take shape. Programs will know after two games where things are headed the rest of the year.
There are a lot of big games this week featuring several undefeated teams, but we can only choose four to preview every week. Here they are.
Mounds View (1-0) at Cretin-Derham Hall (1-0) (University of St. Thomas)
Two traditionally strong Suburban East Conference teams square off Friday night as Cretin-Derham Hall hosts Mounds View at the University of St. Thomas. Both were top 10 teams all season last year, with the Raiders beating the Mustangs 21-9 in their regular season meeting that decided the Suburban East Conference title. It’s also our featured Game of the Week for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally Friday night.
The Raiders were Class 5A state semifinalists before falling to Wayzata last season. Cretin-Derham Hall will ride the arm of Conor Rhoda, who passed for 90 yards and two touchdowns in an opening win last week, and the speedy legs of James Onwualu (62 yards, 1 TD last week) and Blake Banham (43 yards, 1 TD last week) this season. The Raiders opened the season with a 34-24 win over East Ridge last week. While all the talk is of their offense, the Raiders also feature a fast and physical defense that makes big plays.
Mounds View routed Hastings 40-6 last week in a game where quarterback Mitch Fredrickson passed for 107 yards and a touchdown, and T.J. Horn ran for two touchdowns. Look for Horn, Fredrickson and Jeremy Redmond to carry the load for the Mustangs on offense this year. Mounds View got to the section final last year before losing a close game to Totino-Grace.
The Mustangs also feature a physical defense that prides itself on getting pressure up front. The Raiders are tough to beat at home, so I’ll give them a one-touchdown edge Friday night.
Glencoe-Silver Lake (1-0) at Hutchinson (1-0)
A great Minnesota rivalry will be renewed Friday night when the Hutchinson Tigers host Glencoe-Silver Lake in Wright County Conference action. The two teams are like brothers who trade punches, and you never know which one will be the last standing.
The Tigers are coming off a 49-0 win over Little Falls and thrive with a punishing, yet deceptive run game. They typically feature two or three players who can run the ball, including the quarterback, and run you over when they don’t fake you out.
The Panthers are coming off a 46-21 win over Holy Family Catholic, a state tournament team last year. They have plenty of threats of their own as sophomore quarterback Keaton Anderson threw for two touchdowns last week, both to Ryan Kuester, who also ran for a score.
Glencoe-Silver Lake has won two of the past three meetings between the two rivals, but Hutchinson prevailed 20-16 last season on the way to the Wright County Conference title.
This game will be won at the line of scrimmage, which in this game the edge goes to Hutchinson. I’ll take the Tigers in a game decided by seven points or less.
Edina (2-0) at Totino-Grace (1-0)
It should be a great match-up in Fridley Friday night as Totino-Grace hosts Edina in non-conference action. The Hornets are already 2-0 after a Zero Week win over Holy Angels and a win over Andover last week. The Eagles, new members of the Northwest Suburban Conference, are coming off a state semifinal appearance in 5A last year and a 48-6 win over Coon Rapids in their season opener. A.J. LaPanta has emerged for Totino-Grace at quarterback, while Kai Barber and Mason Kaliszewski lead a strong running backs corps. It should go down to the wire, but I’ll give Jeff Ferguson and the Eagles the edge as they have a knack for winning close games.
Osseo (1-0) at Maple Grove (1-0)
There’s not a much better Northwest Suburban Conference rivalry than Osseo and Maple Grove, and the two squads will meet Friday night in Maple Grove. The Crimson beat Armstrong 54-28 in their first game, and the Orioles topped Centennial 37-21. Osseo won last year’s meeting between the two rivals 13-2. Maple Grove has two talented running backs and a skilled passer that will keep Osseo busy on defense. I’ll take the Crimson in a close rivalry game.
Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally Friday night as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and John Lauritsen will have all the action covered.