Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s the third week of the high school football season, where it’s a crucial time for many teams across the state.
Some are positioning themselves for conference titles, while others are trying to recover from slow starts. It’s also the popular time of the season for rivals to face off and have great games that go down to the wire, keeping fans on the edge of their seat.
There are a lot of big games yet again this week, but we can only choose four to preview. Here’s a look at this week’s “Big 4.”
Lakeville North (2-0) at Eastview (1-1)
It’s a battle of ranked teams in Apple Valley Friday night as No. 3-ranked Lakeville North travels to No. 10 Eastview in South Suburban Conference action. It’s our featured Game of the Week for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.
The Panthers scored 35 points in the first quarter last week in a 70-25 win over Bloomington Kennedy. The Lightning is looking to bounce back from a 24-7 loss to Wayzata in a contest that was close for much of the game.
Lakeville North always seems to have a loaded offense, and this year the squad is led by quarterback Zach Creighton. He’s completed almost 71 percent of his passes so far for 174 yards and two touchdowns. He’s also the team’s second leading rusher. Jamiah Newell leads the Panthers in rushing with 144 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Morgan is the team’s top receiver with seven catches for 106 yards and two scores on the season.
The Lightning is led by running back Will Rains, who has 212 yards and three touchdowns on the season. Eastview also has depth at receiver with Henry McIsaac, Kenyon Phillips and Montrell Moore.
The two teams met in the season opener last year, with Lakeville North winning 42-17. The Panthers won the South Suburban Conference last year and advanced to the state tournament before losing to Cretin-Derham Hall. Eastview got to its section title game before losing to Prior Lake.
It should be a good team between conference rivals, but I think the Panthers have too many weapons. Lakeville North wins by 10 points or more.
Blaine (2-0) at Osseo (2-0)
There’s a great match-up of undefeated teams in the Northwest Suburban Conference Friday night as No. 8-ranked Blaine travels to No 6-ranked Osseo. Blaine beat Elk River in its opener 28-14 and Armstrong 41-7 last week. The Bengals have a talented quarterback in Alex Copa (285 yards, 6 TDs). Alex Copa (176 yards, 3 TDs) leads the team in rushing. Bridge Tusler is the standout for the Orioles as he leads them in rushing with 223 yards and four touchdowns. This one should go down to the wire, and the Bengals seem to have a few more weapons and a little more depth. I’ll give Blaine the edge by a touchdown.
DeLaSalle (2-0) at St. Croix Lutheran (2-0)
Top ranked teams in their perspective classes face off in Plymouth Friday night as St. Croix Lutheran, ranked No. 1 in 3A, hosts DeLaSalle, the No. 1-ranked team in 4A. Look for there to be plenty of running in this contest. Jackson Goplen should be a busy man for the Crusaders as he’s got 424 yards and five touchdowns on the season. Chris Williams leads the Islanders in rushing with 478 yards and six touchdowns. DeLaSalle also has a star quarterback in Reid Travis who could play football or basketball in college. It should be a very competitive game, but I’ll give the edge and the win to DeLaSalle.
Stillwater (2-0) at Cretin-Derham Hall (1-1)
Stillwater should get a stiff test when it travels to the University of St. Thomas Friday night to face Cretin-Derham Hall in Suburban East Conference action. The Ponies are 2-0 after wins over Woodbury and White Bear Lake. The Raiders are hungry after beating East Ridge 34-24, then suffering a stunning 17-16 loss to Mounds View last week. Quarterback Nate Ricci and running back Nick Anderson carry the Stillwater offense, while James Onwualu and Blake Banham look to lead the Raiders. I’ll pick Cretin-Derham Hall to win a close one after losing a tough game last week.
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.