Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s hard to believe that we’re almost already halfway through the high school football season. Just when we get comfortable pacing the sidelines and watching some of the state’s best athletes, the regular season is almost over and it’s playoff time.
We’re not quite there yet, but the halfway point is pivotal. Teams who are off to a good start are looking to keep the momentum going. For those who have struggled, it’s not too late to turn things around before the post-season comes around.
There are some great games on tap for Friday night, several including ranked teams that will face off with more than just bragging rights on the line. We can only preview four match-ups, and we lead off with a key game in the Minneapolis City Conference.
Minneapolis Southwest (3-0) at Minneapolis Washburn (2-1)
They officially christened a new field in their second game, but the Washburn Millers will host Minneapolis Southwest in a big conference match-up on their new Fieldturf Friday night. The Millers, ranked No. 6 in 4A, are 1-0 at the new facility and are coming off a 27-26 loss at Waseca. Southwest is 3-0 overall, including conference wins over North and Roosevelt. It’s our featured Game of the Week for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.
The Lakers have allowed just eight points on the season. They’re led by Darin Richardson at quarterback, who has 258 yards passing and five touchdowns. He’s also the team’s second-leading rusher with about 70 yards per game and six scores on the season. DeAnthony McKinley is averaging 117 yards a game on the ground and has three touchdowns. Israel Jamison and Graham Fritz have also combined on defense for 62 tackles to lead Southwest.
They’ll have their hands full with Washburn, who is loaded with talent. Their biggest offensive threat is running back Jeffrey Jones, who is averaging 154 yards a game on the ground and has one touchdown. Raymont Maynard is also averaging 105 yards a game on the ground and has three scores. The Millers like to throw when they can, and quarterback Morley Mathewson is averaging 113 yards a game and has 8 passing touchdowns on the season.
When the two teams met last season, Washburn came away with a 24-12 win. The Millers are tough to beat at home. They win this one by a touchdown.
St. Michael-Albertville (2-1) at Rogers (3-0)
A huge rivalry game takes place in the northwest metro Friday night as St. Michael-Albertville travels to Rogers in Mississippi 8 Conference action. The Knights have won two straight since losing to Cambridge-Isanti in the season opener. The Royals, ranked No. 6 in Clas 5A, have beaten Big Lake, St. Cloud Apollo and Buffalo to start the season. Rogers beat STMA 35-21 last season and has won three of the last four meetings. The Knights will keep it close, but Rogers will make enough plays to win this game. The Royals win it by a touchdown or less.
Eden Prairie (3-0) at Hopkins (4-0)
In arguably the biggest game around the metro Friday night, No. 9-ranked Hopkins hosts No. 1-ranked Eden Prairie in Lake Conference play. The Eagles have cruised in three victories to start the season, outscoring opponents by a combined 138-39 in the process. The Royals got a test two weeks ago in a 37-32 win over Champlin Park and are coming off a 49-0 win over a Wisconsin team. When the two teams met last year, Eden Prairie coasted to a 56-7 victory. The Eagles are No. 1 for a reason, and they’ll show why Friday. I’ll take Eden Prairie by at least 10 points.
Wheaton/Herman-Norcross (3-0) at Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (3-0)
There’s a classic 9-man football game on tap in far western Minnesota Friday night featuring No. 2 versus No. 3 in the class. Wheaton/Herman-Norcross, a Prep Bowl participant last year, hosts Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley in Pheasant South Conference action. When the two teams met last year, Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley came out on the winning end of a close 20-16 game. The Wolverines have also scored at least 64 points in three wins so far. Both teams can score in bunches, but I’ll take Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley by a touchdown with the home field advantage.
Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally at 10:20 p.m. Friday as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and John Lauritsen will have all the action covered.