MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There are just four weeks left in the regular season for high school football.
That’s right, four more chances to win a big game or four more chances to see the clock hit zero and wonder what went wrong. Now that we’re in the back stretch, conference titles and home playoff games are at stake with each passing week.
Having that home field advantage is especially pivotal when it comes to the “win or go home” scenario. There are several more big games this week, and we can only choose four of them to preview. We’ll start with a game in the west metro featuring two top five teams in Class 6A.
Wayzata (3-0) at Minnetonka (3-2)
There will be a ton of talent and athleticism on the field Friday night as Minnetonka hosts Wayzata in Lake Conference action. The Trojans are the No. 2 team in the state, while the Skippers are ranked No. 6 in Class 6A. It’s our featured Game of the Week for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.
Wayzata beat Minnetonka last year 35-7 and advanced to the Prep Bowl before falling to Eden Prairie the day after Thanksgiving. But it’s a new year and rosters have changed. Mitch Underhill, who missed last season with a knee injury, leads the Trojans with about 73 yards rushing a game and five TDs. Reid Pettersen has completed 60.5 percent of his passes for about 118 yards per game and three TDs. Jeff Borchardt, one of the top wideouts in the metro, has two TDs on the season.
The Trojans rely on a fast and athletic defense, and they’ll be tested against the Skippers. Minnetonka is coming off a crushing 27-20 loss to Edina in overtime last week. Nick Rooney leads the Skippers at quarterback as he’s averaging more than 143 yards per game through the air and has nine TDs. Ian Cote leads the team in rushing, averaging more than 97 yards per game with six TDs. George Buchner has six receiving touchdowns on the season.
Home teams usually have the advantage in big games like this, but I think Wayzata has too much depth and talent. I’ll pick the Trojans by 10 points or more.
Rogers (3-1) at Monticello (4-0)
It was all set to be a battle of undefeated teams in the Mississippi Eight Conference Friday night, but then St. Michael-Albertville beat Rogers 28-14 in rivalry game last week. Now Monticello holds control of its conference fate as the Royals pay a visit. The Magic feature a balanced run game and a solid defense, while Rogers likes to run it down your throat. I’ll pick Monticello to get a big home win, setting up what could be a conference title match-up with St. Michael-Albertville in the final week of the regular season.
Mahtomedi (2-2) at St. Thomas Academy (4-0)
It’s been an unusual year at Mahtomedi for the normally dominant Zephyrs, who have struggled to a 2-2 start with losses to Chisago Lakes South St. Paul. They’ll get a huge Classic Suburban Conference test when they travel to St. Thomas Academy, ranked No. 2 in Class 5A. The Cadets are balanced in each phase of the game, and they’re nearly impossible to beat at their Mendota Heights facility. I’ll take St. Thomas by a touchdown in a competitive game that will be closer than most think.
Owatonna (4-0) at Faribault (3-1)
There’s a fantastic, but often overlooked rivalry along Interstate 35 in southern Minnesota and it will take place Friday night as Faribault hosts Owatonna in Big 9 Conference action at Bruce Smith Field. The Falcons are 3-1 and ranked No. 10 in Class 4A, while the Huskies have run over opponents on the way to a 4-0 start and are ranked No. 6 in 5A. These two teams would love nothing more than to beat each other. When they faced off last year, Owatonna shut out Faribault 54-0. The Huskies have won three straight, and they’ll run their way to a fourth win in a row Friday. I’ll take Owatonna by 10 points or more.
Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally at about 10:20 p.m. Friday as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and John Lauritsen will have all the action covered.