Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – This is one of the best times of the year to be a high school football fan.
With only three regular season games left, teams have that many more opportunities to win and get positive momentum going heading into the playoffs. It’s also that time of year where conference titles start to get locked up, and games get bigger and bigger.
And it’s that time of the year where it’s not freezing yet, but there’s usually the halftime rush to the concession stand for hot chocolate, apple cider or that fresh slice of pizza. It’s also homecoming for many schools, where alumni come back to catch up with old friends and watch some great football.
Our featured match-up this week takes us out to the Wright County Conference where the top spot in the league is on the line. Here’s a full preview, plus three other big games set for Friday night.
Hutchinson (5-0) at Delano (4-1)
A pair of Wright County Conference rivals square off in Delano Friday night with the top spot in the league on the line as Hutchinson, the No. 4-ranked team in 4A, comes to town. The two teams last met in 2010, with Delano prevailing 21-17. It’s our featured Game of the Week for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.
Hutchinson leaves no mystery to its game. The Tigers like to run the ball down your throat, and try to stop it. Their quarterback, McKinley Anderson, is one of their top rushers along with Tory Adams and Ahmad Brewton. Mitch Peterson is their top receiver. Hutchinson also features a stingy front seven on defense that’s physical and just doesn’t allow much. In five wins, Hutchinson has allowed 41 total points.
Delano is no slouch either. They’re 4-1 on the season with a lone loss to Annandale, the No. 3-ranked team in 3A. Quarterback Dalton Danielson has five passing touchdowns on the season and is averaging more than 205 yards per game through the air. His favorite target is Adam Kraft, who is averaging almost 27 yards per catch and has four TDs. Zach Checkal leads the run game with about 120 yards per game on the ground and six touchdowns.
This game might come down to the team that has the ball last. I’ll give Hutchinson the edge by a field goal or less because of its usually strong defense.
Becker (5-0) at Glencoe-Silver Lake (4-1)
It should be a great battle in non-conference play as unbeaten Becker travels to Glencoe-Silver Lake, which has a lone loss to Hutchinson on the season. The Bulldogs are scoring in bunches this season with at least 28 points in every win. The Panthers, meanwhile, have relied more on an all-around team defensive effort. A win would go a long way for Glencoe-Silver Lake the rest of the season, and they’re awfully tough to beat at home. I’ll take Glencoe-Silver Lake in a great game to hand Becker its first loss.
Eden Prairie (5-0) at Minnetonka (3-3)
It’s the biggest game in the Twin Cities metro Friday night as No. 1-ranked Eden Prairie travels to No. 9 ranked Minnetonka in Lake Conference action. The Eagles have been nothing short of dominant in their 5-0 start coming off a state championship. The Skippers might prove to be their toughest test yet as their 3-3 record doesn’t indicate their talent. Eden Prairie also tends to get their opponent’s best efforts, which is why this will be a closer game than most think. Eden Prairie is the favorite until somebody beats them, so I’ll take the Eagles by a touchdown.
Edina (5-1) at Wayzata (5-0)
Wayzata got a great test in a 14-0 win over Minnetonka last week, but it came at a cost as the Trojans lost their star running back Mitch Underhill to his second torn ACL in as many seasons. They still have plenty of weapons and that’s why they’re 5-0, but they host a tough Edina squad who beat Hopkins last week. The Hornets’ only loss this season was to Totino-Grace. It should be a high-scoring affair, and I’ll give Wayzata a one touchdown edge as they continue to gear up for a season-ending showdown with Eden Prairie.
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.