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Prep Blog: Week 7, Previewing ‘The Big 4’

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Jeff Wald Jeff Wald
Jeff Wald started as a Web Producer at WCCO-TV in April of 2011....
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s yet another big week in high school football across the state.

It’s Week 7, which means the regular season is winding down and we’re getting ever so close to the playoffs. It’s also a key stretch for many teams as after Friday night’s games, most schools around the state will turn around quickly and play next Wednesday during the annual state teacher’s conferences.

This is that time when the elite players around the state emerge and take their teams to victory. It’s as important as anything to get momentum now before heading into the “win or go home” playoff scenario.

There are a lot of big games this week, but there’s one game that many around the state will be following on Friday. It’s our featured game for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally, and here’s a preview.

Edina (6-1) at Eden Prairie (6-0)

A pair of Class 6A powerhouses square off Friday night as Eden Prairie hosts Edina in the Lake Conference.  The winner takes control in the conference and will likely be the top seed for one of the four sections in the new class. It’s also a match-up of the top two teams in the state.

Edina’s only blemish on the season is a 15-12 road loss to Totino-Grace, the No. 1-ranked team in 5A. Eden Prairie is unbeaten at 6-0 and is outscoring opponents by an average of 44-11. Many prep experts believe this year’s state title is Eden Prairie’s to lose. When the two teams met last year, Eden Prairie cruised to a 35-7 victory.

The Eagles are led as always by a power running game and a stifling defense. Dan Fischer leads the team in rushing, and quarterback Grant Schaeffer is just as dangerous running as he is to throw. Eden Prairie loves to run the football, grind out yards and overpower their opponents.

The Hornets might have to beat them at their own game to have a chance. Their best defense will be an offense that sustains long drives and keeps Eden Prairie off the field.  The Hornets have a talented running backs in Kevin Placide and Colin Ritter. Quarterback Mark Handberg has more than 1,000 yards passing and nine touchdowns on the season.

There will be plenty of talented athletes on the field Friday night, but I just don’t see Eden Prairie losing at home. I’ll take the Eagles by a touchdown.

Detroit Lakes (6-0) at Perham (6-0)

A pair of ranked and undefeated teams will square off Friday night as Perham, the No. 2-ranked team in 3A, hosts Detroit Lakes, the No. 4-ranked team in 4A. It’s also for supremacy in the Heart O’Lakes North Conference. Detroit Lakes lost to Perham 35-28 last year, but hasn’t allowed more than 22 points in a game this season. The Yellojackets are coming off an emotional 20-19 win over Thief River Falls. I’ll take Perham in a close one.

Coon Rapids (0-6) at Maple Grove (6-0)

Coon Rapids has had an awfully tough year, but can at least start to make up for it if they can pull an upset at Maple Grove Friday in a Northwest Suburban Conference match-up.  The Crimson are undefeated and ranked No. 7 in Class 6A. The Cardinals have had trouble scoring this season with no more than 14 points in any game through six weeks. The beauty of football is that anyone can win on any given day, but I don’t see Maple Grove losing this one. I’ll take the Crimson by at least 10 points.

Osseo (4-2) at Elk River (2-4)

Osseo had to forfeit the first two games of its season after using an ineligible player, but the Orioles are otherwise undefeated as they travel to Elk River Friday night in non-conference action. The Elks have been more competitive than their 2-4 record suggests. Osseo is one of the top teams in 6A and they’re led big Bridge Tusler. I’ll take the Osseo to get a road win by at least a touchdown.

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.

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